Howell Edmunds Jackson

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Howell Edmunds Jackson
Justice Howell Jackson2.jpg
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
In office
February 18, 1893[1] – August 8, 1895
Nominated by Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Succeeded by Rufus Wheeler Peckham
Born (1832-04-08)April 8, 1832
Paris, Tennessee,
United States
Died August 8, 1895(1895-08-08) (aged 63)
Nashville, Tennessee
Cause of death
Tuberculosis
Resting place
Mount Olivet Cemetery
Residence Nashville, Tennessee
Education West Tennessee College, University of Virginia, Cumberland University
Occupation Lawyer, judge, politician, businessman, racehorse owner/breeder
Political party
Democratic
Religion Baptist [1]
Spouse(s) 1) Sophia Molloy (d. 1873)
2) Mary Elizabeth Harding
Children Children with Sophia:
Henry, Mary, William H. (1864–1938), Howell E., Jr.

Children with Mary:
Elizabeth, Louise, Harding A.
Parents Alexander Jackson & Mary Hurt

Howell Edmunds Jackson (April 8, 1832 – August 8, 1895) was an American jurist and politician. He served on the United States Supreme Court, in the U.S. Senate, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the Tennessee House of Representatives. He authored notable opinions on the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. His secretary on the Supreme Court was James Clark McReynolds, who later also became a Supreme Court Justice.

Early life[edit]

Jackson was born in Paris, Tennessee to Alexander Jackson, a doctor, and Mary Hurt Jackson, the daughter of a Baptist minister, both natives of Virginia. He moved to Jackson, Tennessee, with his parents at the age of eight where his father would be elected as a Whig to the state legislature and subsequently as Jackson's mayor.

Howell graduated from West Tennessee College in 1849, where he studied Greek and Latin, then attended the University of Virginia for two years and then earned a law degree from Cumberland University. He then returned to Tennessee and clerked for Judge A. W. O. Totten of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and Milton Brown, a former U.S. Representative. The next year Howell attended Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, Tennessee and graduated in 1856. Upon admission to the bar, he practiced first in Jackson, but was unable to establish a successful practice, so he relocated to Memphis and partnered with David M. Currin, a prominent Democrat. In Memphis he married Sophia Malloy, the daughter of a local client.

Civil War[edit]

Although opposed to secession, Jackson served the Confederacy as a receiver of property confiscated from Unionists during the Civil War. His brother William Hicks Jackson was a Confederate brigadier-general.

After the fall of Memphis in 1862, he and his family spent the remainder of the war in LaGrange, Georgia.

Career in Memphis[edit]

After the war, Jackson took an oath of allegiance to the Union, which allowed him to return to the practice of law in Memphis. He took a new partner, Bedford M. Estes, and their practice grew to represent prominent businesses, including banks, railroads and some northern business interests. In 1873 he lost his wife during a yellow fever outbreak, leaving him to care for their children. He subsequently married Mary E. Harding, who was the daughter of William G. Harding, a wealthy Nashville landowner. This marriage put him in contact with numerous prominent citizens and the estate her father gave them provided his family with the appearance of wealth. However, Howell's family was not wealthy, in part, because of the trouble he had collecting payments from clients. He returned to Jackson in 1874 and served on the Court of Arbitration for West Tennessee on two occasions.

Later career[edit]

Jackson was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1880. After taking his seat, a bitter fight ensued over the election of a U.S. Senator in the Tennessee General Assembly. Jackson was promoted as a compromise candidate and with the support of both Democrats and Republicans, succeeded on the first ballot.

Jackson took office on March 4, 1881 and served for five years, during which time he supported issues such as civil service reforms, creation of an Interstate Commerce Commission, and restrictions of Chinese immigration.

While in the Senate, Jackson employed as his secretary James Clark McReynolds, also a future Supreme Court justice.[2]

Jackson resigned from the Senate on April 14, 1886 to accept appointment by President Grover Cleveland to the United States Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit, which then became the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He served with distinction and wrote notable opinions on the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

U.S. Supreme Court[edit]

Jackson served on the Sixth Circuit until 1893, when President Benjamin Harrison, despite the difference in their respective political parties, nominated him to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States upon the death of Lucius Q. C. Lamar. His nomination was non-partisan, and was announced on February 2, 1893. He was confirmed only 16 days later by a unanimous Senate vote at the age of 60.

Jackson wrote 46 opinions and four dissents. His experience in patent law served the Court well since it was clogged with patent cases at that time.

Jackson contracted tuberculosis one year after joining the Court. His brother William asked Congress to pass a retirement bill for him, but Jackson recovered sufficiently to return to the Court. There he cast one final vote on a case brought over the constitutionality of the national income tax passed in August 1894, which levied a 2% tax on income over $4,000. Jackson's return sparked attention, and one reporter commented that:

He interested the crowd more than all the rest of the bench; that his life can last but a short time and that it will probably be shortened by the effort which he has made to attend the hearing.

Jackson, however, did not cast a tie-breaking vote. The Court held that the tax was unconstitutional but Jackson voted with the minority. In a stinging dissent he lambasted the Court's ruling stating that it "was the most disastrous blow ever struck at the Constitutional power of Congress."

Three months later Jackson died in Nashville. Eighteen years later the Sixteenth Amendment was passed, giving Congress power to enact the disputed tax.

Howell Jackson is buried in Nashville's Mount Olivet Cemetery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Federal Judicial Center: Howell Edmunds Jackson". 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  2. ^ "James C. McReynolds". Supreme Court Historical Society. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
United States Senate
Preceded by
James E. Bailey
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
1881–1886
Served alongside: Isham G. Harris
Succeeded by
Washington C. Whitthorne
Legal offices
Preceded by
New seat
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
1891–1893
Succeeded by
Horace Harmon Lurton
Preceded by
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
February 18, 1893 – August 8, 1895
Succeeded by
Rufus Wheeler Peckham