John Lowell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Lowell
OldJudgeLowell.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit
In office
February 20, 1801 – May 6, 1802
Appointed byJohn Adams
Preceded bySeat established by 2 Stat. 89
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
September 26, 1789 – February 20, 1801
Appointed byGeorge Washington
Preceded bySeat established by 1 Stat. 73
Succeeded byJohn Davis
Delegate from Massachusetts to the Congress of the Confederation
In office
1782–1783
Preceded byJames Lovell
Succeeded byStephen Higginson
Personal details
Born
John Lowell

(1743-06-17)June 17, 1743
Newburyport,
Province of Massachusetts Bay,
British America
DiedMay 6, 1802(1802-05-06) (aged 58)
Roxbury, Massachusetts
ChildrenJohn Lowell Jr.
Francis Cabot Lowell
Charles Russell Lowell Sr.
FatherJohn Lowell
EducationHarvard University
read law
Signature

John Lowell (June 17, 1743 – May 6, 1802) was a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation, a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture under the Articles of Confederation, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit.

Education and career[edit]

Born on June 17, 1743, in Newburyport, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America,[1][2] Lowell graduated from Harvard University in 1760 and read law in 1763.[2] He entered private practice in Newburyport from 1763 to 1771, 1773, and 1775.[2] He was a selectman for Newburyport from 1771 to 1772, in 1774, and in 1776.[2] In the spring of 1774, he signed addresses complimenting royal governors Thomas Hutchinson and Thomas Gage, but made a public apology for doing so at the end of the year.[3] He served in the Massachusetts militia as a major in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.[2] He continued private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1777 to 1778, and from 1779 to 1781.[2] After moving to Boston, Lowell became the leading attorney in Massachusetts representing privateer claims before the Admiralty Court, which formed the basis of his fortune.[4] Of the 1100 privateering claims handled in Boston, Lowell was lead counsel in approximately 700, and assistant counsel in half the rest[4]. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1778, and from 1780 to 1782.[2] He was a delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention in 1780.[2] He was a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (Continental Congress) from 1782 to 1783.[2] He was a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture under the Articles of Confederation starting in 1783.[5][2] He was a member of a commission on the boundary between Massachusetts and New York in 1784.[2] He was a member of the Massachusetts Senate from 1784 to 1785.[2]

Influence on abolition of slavery in Massachusetts[edit]

As a member of the Massachusetts constitutional convention of 1780, Lowell is best remembered for authoring Article I and his insistence upon its adoption into the Bill of Rights, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties..."

Lowell's son, the Rev. Charles Lowell, D.D., wrote in a personal letter eight decades later, "My father introduced into the Bill of Rights the clause by which Slavery was abolished in Massachusetts... and when it was adopted, exclaimed: 'Now there is no longer Slavery in Massachusetts, it is abolished and I will render my services as a lawyer gratis to any slave suing for his freedom if it is withheld from him...' and he did so defend the negro slave against his master under this clause of the constitution which was declared valid by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1783, and since that time Slavery in Mass. has had no legal standing."[6]

Highlights of his congressional service[edit]

During Lowell's service, the Congress of the Confederation met in the library of Nassau Hall at Princeton University and "congratulated George Washington on his successful termination of the war, received the news of the signing of the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, and welcomed the first foreign minister—from the Netherlands—accredited to the United States."[7]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Lowell was nominated by President George Washington on September 24, 1789, to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73.[2] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission on September 26, 1789.[2] His service terminated on February 20, 1801, due to his elevation to the First Circuit.[2]

Lowell was nominated by President John Adams on February 18, 1801, to the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit, to the new Chief Judge seat authorized by 2 Stat. 89.[2] He was confirmed by the Senate on February 20, 1801, and received his commission the same day.[2] His service terminated on May 6, 1802, due to his death in Roxbury, Massachusetts.[2]

Membership[edit]

Lowell was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[8]

Family[edit]

Lowell's ancestor, Percival, a merchant, came from Bristol, England, to Newbury, Province of Massachusetts Bay, in 1639, and his father, John, was the first minister of Newburyport, where he officiated from 1726 to 1767.[9]

Lowell married his first wife, Sarah (January 14, 1745 – May 5, 1772), sister of Stephen Higginson, on January 8, 1767.[citation needed] They had three children, including John Lowell Jr. (1769–1840).[citation needed] John Lowell Jr.'s descendants include businessmen John Amory Lowell, Augustus Lowell, and Ralph Lowell; federal judges John Lowell and James Arnold Lowell; and siblings author and innovator Percival Lowell, Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell, and poet Amy Lowell.[citation needed] Lowell's wife Sarah died on May 5, 1772.[citation needed]

Lowell married his second wife, Susanna (1754–1777), on May 31, 1774.[citation needed] Together they had two children, including Francis Cabot Lowell (1775–1817), a businessman and namesake of Lowell, Massachusetts.[citation needed] Descendants of Francis Cabot include businessman and philanthropist John Lowell Jr., federal judge Francis Cabot Lowell, and architect Guy Lowell.[citation needed] Susanna died on March 30, 1777.[citation needed]

On December 25, 1778, Lowell married his third wife, Rebecca (1747–1816).[citation needed] They had four children, including Charles Russell Lowell Sr. (1782–1861).[citation needed] Charles Russell's son was the American poet James Russell Lowell;[citation needed] his grandsons included the American Civil War figure Charles Russell Lowell[citation needed] and Boston banker and family lawyer William Lowell Putnam.[10] His great-great-grandson was the poet Robert Lowell.[citation needed]

Other notable children of the daughters and granddaughters of John Lowell include mathematician Julian Coolidge, and writer and biographer Ferris Greenslet.[citation needed]

Publications[edit]

  • Pietas et Gratulatio, a poem (1761)
  • Oration on James Bowdoin the elder (delivered January 26, 1795), Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, v. 2 (prefix)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Greenslet, Ferris. (1946) The Lowells and Their Seven Worlds, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-89760-263-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r John Lowell at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ Ferris Greenslet,The Lowells and Their Seven Worlds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1946), 56-7.
  4. ^ a b Adams, Russell B., (1977) The Boston Money Tree, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., p. 36
  5. ^ "Journals of the Continental Congress --THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1782". memory.loc.gov.
  6. ^ Lowell, Delmar. (1899) The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899, Rutland VT: The Tuttle Company, pp 34–35. ISBN 978-0-7884-1567-8.
  7. ^ Leitch, Alexander. (1978) A Princeton Companion, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04654-9
  8. ^ "Charter of Incorporation". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  9. ^ Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Lowell, John" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  10. ^ [William Lowell Putnam was a cousin several times removed to General Israel Putnam. See [A History of the Putnam Family in England and America. Recording ..., Volume 1 .p.87 {Israel Putnam} and p.523 Rev George Putnam {William Lowell Putnam's grandfather)]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Assembly seats
Preceded by
James Lovell
Delegate from Massachusetts to the Congress of the Confederation
1782–1783
Succeeded by
Stephen Higginson
Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 1 Stat. 73
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
1789–1801
Succeeded by
John Davis
Preceded by
Seat established by 2 Stat. 89
Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit
1801–1802
Succeeded by
Seat abolished