|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States|
May 9, 1826 – August 25, 1828
|Nominated by||John Quincy Adams|
|Preceded by||Thomas Todd|
|Succeeded by||John McLean|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky|
January 31, 1817 – May 9, 1826
|Nominated by||James Madison|
|Preceded by||Harry Innes|
|Succeeded by||John Boyle|
November 17, 1776|
Berkeley County, Virginia, U.S.
(now West Virginia)
August 25, 1828 (aged 51)|
Paris, Kentucky, U.S.
Robert Trimble (November 17, 1776 – August 25, 1828) was an attorney, judge, and a justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Early life and family
Trimble was born in Berkeley County, Virginia, to William Trimble and Mary McMillan. His family moved to Kentucky when he was three years old. They settled in the area outside Boonesboro (now Clark County).
Trimble's opportunities for early education were sparse, but he studied what material was available and taught school for a few years. He studied law at a new law school in Lebanon, Ohio. He also read law under George Nicholas until Nicholas' death in 1799, then continued his studies under future Louisiana Senator James Brown. He was licensed to practice law by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1803 and commenced practice in Paris, Kentucky.
Trimble married Nancy Timberlake and the two had at least six children.
In 1803, Trimble was elected to represent Bourbon County in the Kentucky House of Representatives. During his single term in the legislature, he found that he disliked the life of a politician, and thereafter refused election to any public office, including two nominations to the U.S. Senate.
In 1808, Trimble was commissioned as an associate justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where he was a colleague of future U.S. Attorney General Felix Grundy. He was offered elevation to chief justice of the court in 1810, but declined because his financial situation dictated that he return to his legal practice.
President James Madison appointed Trimble U.S. Attorney for the District of Kentucky in 1813. On January 28, 1817, Madison nominated Trimble to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky vacated by the death of Harry Innes. Trimble was quickly confirmed by the United States Senate on January 31, 1817, and received his commission the same day.
On April 11, 1826, President John Quincy Adams nominated Trimble to a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States vacated by the death of Justice Thomas Todd. Trimble was Adams' only appointment to the Supreme Court and the first U.S. District Judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Adams is said to have appointed Trimble because of the "Kentucky" vacancy created by the death of Thomas Todd and on the advice of Henry Clay, who was Secretary of State. Trimble was again confirmed by the United States Senate on May 9, 1826, and received his commission the same day.
As a member of the court, Trimble generally agreed with the opinions of Chief Justice John Marshall. In a notable departure, he wrote the majority opinion in the case of Ogden v. Saunders; Marshall wrote the dissenting opinion in the case. Trimble served on the Court until his sudden death from a "malignant bilious fever" on August 25, 1828. He died in Paris, Kentucky and was buried in the Paris Cemetery. Trimble County, Kentucky is named in his honor.
Legacy and honors
- Biographical Cyclopedia, p. 270
- "Robert Trimble". History of the Sixth Circuit
- Biographical Cyclopedia, p. 271
- "Trimble, Robert". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
- The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 37.
- Williams, Greg H. (25 July 2014). The Liberty Ships of World War II: A Record of the 2,710 Vessels and Their Builders, Operators and Namesakes, with a History of the Jeremiah O’Brien. McFarland. ISBN 1476617546. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Chicago, Illinois: J.M. Gresham Company. 1896.
- "Robert Trimble (1776-1828)". History of the Sixth Circuit. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- Robert Trimble at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
| Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky
| Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States