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U.S. Supreme Court Justice
    (September 18, 1779-September 10, 1845)
    Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts
    Served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1805-08,1810-12) and the US House of Representatives (1808-09)
    Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court (1811-45)
    Youngest ever Supreme Court Justice (age 32 at confirmation)
    Notable opinions included Martin v Hunter's Lessee (1816) establishing the authority of the Supreme Court over state courts in civil cases, and United States v The Amistad (1841) ruling that Joseph Cinque and his fellow mutineers had been enslaved illegally and were therefore entitled to freedom
    Professor of Law at Harvard (1829-45)
    Wrote 'Commentaries on the Constitution' (1833)
    In the Steven Spielberg film 'Amistad' (1997), was portrayed by Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun
    He had no judicial experience before being nominated for the Supreme Court.
    He was President James Madison's fourth choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court: John Quincy Adams and Levi Lincoln declined to have their names submitted, while Alexander Wolcott was rejected by the US Senate.
    Madison had hoped he would counter Chief Justice John Marshall's expansion of the power of the federal courts, but he soon became Marshall's main ally.
    He graduated Harvard second in his class (behind William Ellery Channing).
    His first wife died after just six months of marriage.
    Five of the seven children he had with his second wife died before reaching adulthood.
    He was a prolific author, earning more than twice as much from book royalties as he did from his salary as Associate Justice.
    In a 1971 survey of legal scholars ranking the Supreme Court Justices from 'great' to 'failure,' he was one of twelve Justices named 'great.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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