West Hughes Humphreys

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West Hughes Humphreys (August 26, 1806 - October 16, 1882) was a United States District Court judge, and a judge of the Confederate States of America. It was for the latter office that he was removed from his position in the former.


Humphreys was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee and studied Law at Transylvania University (in Lexington, Kentucky) and obtained a licence to practice in 1828. He was in private practice of law in Clarksville, Tennessee from 1828 to 1829 and in private practice of law in Somerville, Tennessee from 1829 to 1839. Humphreys later served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1835 to 1838, and as State Attorney General from 1839 to 1851 and he was a Reporter of the Supreme Court of Tennessee from 1839 to 1851.

On March 24, 1853, Humphreys was appointed by President Franklin Pierce to preside over all three of the Federal District Courts for Tennessee, the seats having been vacated by Morgan W. Brown. Two days later, Humphreys was confirmed by the United States Senate and received his commission. Humphreys supported the secessionist movement that led to the Civil War and accepted an appointment to the Confederate District Court of Tennessee on which he served from 1861 to 1865.

On May 19, 1862 the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Humphreys on the following charges: Publicly calling for secession; Giving aid to an armed rebellion; Conspiring with Jefferson Davis; Serving as a Confederate Judge; Confiscating the property of Military Governor Andrew Johnson and Supreme Court Justice John Catron; And imprisoning a Union sympathiser with "intent to injure him".

On June 26, 1862, the United States Senate began the trial of the impeachment in his absence and later that day unanimously convicted him of all charges presented, except that of confiscating the property of Andrew Johnson. He was removed from office and barred from holding office under the United States for life. He held his Confederate Judgeship until the end of the Civil War.

In later life he argued for the prohibition of alcohol and wrote several books as well as engaging in the private practice of law in Nashville, Tennessee from 1866 to 1882.

He died in Nashville, Tennessee.


  • Robinson, William M., Justice in Grey: A History of the Judicial System of the Confederate States (Cambridge (MA), 1941)

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