Happy Birthday, My Dear Chief Justice: Three Letters from Samuel Blatchford to Morrison R. Waite
Green Bag Almanac & Reader, pp. 106-120, 2020
15 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 11, 2020
Much has been written on the legacy of Morrison R. Waite, the seventh Chief Justice of the United States, including his ability to preside over the Associate Justices who served during his tenure. With a bench full of forceful characters like Samuel F. Miller, Stephen J. Field, Joseph P. Bradley, and John Marshall Harlan, Waite’s relationships with the other Justices who served beside him have received less attention. One of his more obscure relationships was with Samuel Blatchford, a wealthy New Yorker who possessed “grace and courtesy and strict[ly] observ[ed] the first principles of amenity.” It is perhaps due to these characteristics that a small peek into their relationship exists today. Found among Waite’s personal papers were three letters that Blatchford sent to him while they served together on the Supreme Court from 1882 to 1888. Addressed to “My dear Chief Justice” on the occasion of Waite’s birthday, the letters reveal a warm and collegial friendship during the final years of Waite’s life.
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