Bushrod Washington

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Bushrod Washington
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
In office
December 20, 1798 – November 26, 1829
Nominated by John Adams
Preceded by James Wilson
Succeeded by Henry Baldwin
Personal details
Born (1762-06-05)June 5, 1762
Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died November 26, 1829(1829-11-26) (aged 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alma mater College of William and Mary
Religion Episcopalian

Bushrod Washington (June 5, 1762 – November 26, 1829) was a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice for over thirty years. He was the nephew of American founding father George Washington.

Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and was the son of John Augustine Washington, brother of the first president. Washington attended Delamere, an academy administered by the Rev. Bartholomew Booth and attended the Chapel in the Woods. He graduated from the College of William and Mary, where he was one of the first members of Phi Beta Kappa. His uncle sponsored Washington's legal studies with fellow Founder James Wilson. Encouraged by his family, Washington dabbled in politics, serving two terms in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1787-91 and participating in a state constitutional convention. Washington lived in Richmond, Virginia, at William Byrd III's estate, Belvidere, until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1798. He inherited Mount Vernon from George Washington after the latter died in 1799.[1]

Washington received a recess appointment to the seat vacated by James Wilson on September 29, 1798,[2] after another Federalist, John Marshall, turned John Adams down and endorsed Washington. Formally nominated on December 18, 1798, he was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 1798, and received his commission the same day. He became an associate justice on February 4, 1799, at the age of 36. After Marshall became Chief Justice two years later, he voted with Marshall on all but three occasions (one being Ogden v. Saunders).

While serving on the Marshall Court, he authored the opinion of Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. 546 (C.C.E.D. Penn. 1823), while riding circuit as an Associate Justice.[3] In Corfield, Washington listed several rights traditionally viewed to be "fundamental." This list of fundamental rights has profoundly influenced later Constitutional jurisprudence, particularly with respect to the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

Washington was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[4]

In 1816, he helped create the American Colonization Society and held the position as its first president for the remainder of his life. Washington was an owner (and seller) of slaves.[5]

Washington died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[2] and was buried at Mount Vernon, along with his wife, who died two days later.[6]


  1. ^ Lossing, Benson J. (1871). The Home of Washington; Or, Mount Vernon and Its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial (Hartford, Conn.: A.S. Hale & Company), p. 350.
  2. ^ a b Bushrod Washington at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ Thayer, James Bradley (1894). Cases on constitutional law: With notes, Part 2. C.W. Sever. pp. 453–56. 
  4. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  5. ^ Dunne, Gerald. Bushrod Washington and The Mount Vernon Slaves, Supreme Court Historical Society 1980 Yearbook. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  6. ^ Christensen, George A. (1983) Here Lies the Supreme Court: Gravesites of the Justices, Yearbook. Supreme Court Historical Society. Bushrod Washington memorial at Find a Grave.

Further reading[edit]

  • Abraham, Henry J. (1992). Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506557-3. 
  • Cushman, Clare (2001). The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–1995 (2nd ed.). (Supreme Court Historical Society, Congressional Quarterly Books). ISBN 1-56802-126-7. 
  • Flanders, Henry. The Lives and Times of the Chief Justices of the United States Supreme Court. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1874 at Google Books.
  • Frank, John P. (1995). Friedman, Leon; Israel, Fred L., eds. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions. Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 0-7910-1377-4. 
  • Hall, Kermit L., ed. (1992). The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505835-6. 
  • Martin, Fenton S.; Goehlert, Robert U. (1990). The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Books. ISBN 0-87187-554-3. 
  • Urofsky, Melvin I. (1994). The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Garland Publishing. p. 590. ISBN 0-8153-1176-1. 
  • White, G. Edward. The Marshall Court & Cultural Change, 1815-35. Published in an abridged edition, 1991.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James Wilson
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
December 20, 1798 – November 26, 1829
Succeeded by
Henry Baldwin