Woodbury, Levi


Rare Court-related ALS while Associate Justice, offering to present an opinion in Newport


Autograph ID: 3867
Condition: Very good, folds with light age staining
Description: “(1789-1851) New Hampshire US Senator & Governor, Jackson Navy Secretary and Jackson-Van Buren Treasury Secretary. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 1st Justice to have attended law school(Tapping Reeve Law School in Connecticut). Admitted to New Hampshire Bar 1812, clerk of the State Senate 1816-17, state supreme court justice 1817-23. Governor 1823-24, Speaker of the State House of Representatives 1825, US Senator 1825-31. Jackson’s Navy Secretary 1831-34. As Treasury Secretary 1834-41 (Jackson-Van Buren), successfully worked to end Second Bank of the United States; like Jackson, favored an “independent” treasury system and “hard money” over paper money. The Panic of 1837 and the collapse of speculative land prices were legacies of his tenure. After the Panic, Woodbury backed the act for an “Independent Treasury System” passed by Congress in 1840, largely repealed by the new administration in 1841, but the foundation was laid for an independent US Treasury. In the 1844 presidential election, Woodbury supported Polk. On Sept. 20, 1845, Polk gave him a recess appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for the seat vacated by Joseph Story. Formally nominated Dec. 23, 1845, confirmed Jan. 3, 1846, served 1845-51. He was one of few individuals to serve in all 3 branches of the US Government, one of 3 to have served as a state governor (S. P. Chase & Jas. F. Byrnes). A conservative who saw the Constitution as a limitation of federal power, to be closely read and applied, he was in harmony with the southern states’ rights position. In his opinion for the Court in Jones v. Van Zandt (1847), he upheld federal law permitting slave owners to reclaim their runaway slaves. Some slaves escaped their owners on their own, others sometimes received assistance from sympathetic Northerners, such as Van Zandt. Van Zandt was forced to compensate Jones for assisting in the escape of his slaves.

Rare Court-related ALS while Associate Justice, Boston, June 8 1847, on 10 x 8 blue-grey colored folded paper addressed to John Whipple, Esq., Providence, Rhode Island. It will give Justice Woodbury pleasure to bring his opinion to Newport in a case, but as to other cases of interest to Whipple, as arguments in one are not finished, he does not want to give an opinion in the other until the argument in the first one is finished. He hopes to be able to dispose of both at the coming term. Docketed address leaf attached. Whipple was an accomplished litigant before the Supreme Court. With Daniel Webster, represented appellee Luther M. Borden in Luther v. Borden (1849) which held that the Court did not have power to decide a “political question”, that a state government was not legitimate; Woodbury dissented.”
Type: Letter

Product Search

Product categories

Quick Links