Silas Sanderson

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Silas Woodruff Sanderson
7th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court
In office
January 2, 1864 – January 1866
Appointed by Elected
Preceded by Warner Cope
Succeeded by John Currey
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
In office
January 1866 – January 4, 1870
Appointed by Elected
Preceded by Elections under 1862 amendment to California constitution and 1863 enabling law
Succeeded by Jackson Temple
Personal details
Born (1824-04-16)April 16, 1824
Sandgate, Vermont, U.S.
Died June 24, 1886(1886-06-24) (aged 62)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Margaret Beatty Ormsby (m. 1858)
Alma mater Williams College
Union College

Silas Woodruff Sanderson (April 16, 1824 – June 24, 1886) was the seventh Chief Justice of California.

Biography[edit]

Born in Sandgate, Vermont, Sanderson attended Burr Seminary, Williams College, and Union College, graduating from the last in 1846; he was soon admitted to the bar in New York state.[1][2][3][4] He then moved to Florida where he went into practice with his older brother, John, in Jacksonville. In December 1847, Sanderson was named assistant secretary to the president of the Florida Senate.[5] In August 1850, he visited Washington, D.C.[6] Later in 1850, he sailed to California via the Strait of Magellan and settled in Coloma.

As a Democrat, Sanderson was elected district attorney in El Dorado County. In June 1861, during the American Civil War, he spoke against the secessionist sentiment at the Breckenridge Democratic Party convention.[7] He became a Republican and backed Leland Stanford for Governor of California in the November 1861 election, serving on a committee to organize the inaugural ball.[8] In November 1862, Sanderson ran on the Union branch of the Democratic Party ticket and was elected to the California State Assembly from El Dorado.[9][10]

The following year, under a constitutional amendment reorganizing the courts, all of the seats of the Supreme Court of California were open for election.[11] In June 1863, Sanderson was nominated by the Republicans.[12] In October 1863, he was elected, and by the drawing of lots among the new justices he received the short, two-year term.[13][11] Under the rules of the court, the justice with the shortest term served as Chief Justice, and so he held the position from January 2, 1864, to January 1866, when his term expired.[11] In November 1865, he beat Democrat H. H. Hartley, and was re-elected to the Court as an Associate Justice, serving from January 1866 to January 4, 1870.[14][15][16][17]

In 1870, he resigned from the court to head the legal department at the Southern Pacific Railroad, a post he held for the next 16 years.[18][19][20][21]

Sanderson died June 24, 1886, at his home in San Francisco.[22]

Personal life[edit]

On March 3, 1858, Sanderson married Margaret Beatty Ormsby (c. 1839 – October 21, 1913) of Sacramento, California.[23][22] They had four daughters, including Sibyl Sanderson, a notable operatic soprano.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, J. Edward (1963). History of the California Supreme Court: The Justices 1850-1900, vol 1 (PDF). San Francisco, CA: Bender Moss Co. pp. 89–91. Retrieved August 14, 2017. 
  2. ^ "The News in Vermont". Burlington weekly free press. Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. July 9, 1886. p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2017. Silas W. Sanderson, a native of Sunderland and a graduate of the old Burr Seminary 
  3. ^ Williams College Catalogue. Williamstown, MA: Williams College. 1843. p. 12. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ Catalogue of the Chi Psi Society, Union College. 1852. p. 69. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Florida Legislature". Wilmington journal. Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. December 10, 1847. p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Arrivals at the Hotels, National Hotel". The Republic (Washington, D.C.). Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. August 20, 1850. p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2017. S. W. Sanderson, Fla. 
  7. ^ "By Telegraph, The Breckenridge State Convention-Succession Resolutions". Daily Alta California. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 13 June 1861. p. 1. Retrieved October 5, 2017. A minority report was submitted by S. W. Sanderson 
  8. ^ "Inaugural Ball". Sacramento Daily Union (22 (3338)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 9 December 1861. p. 3. Retrieved October 5, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Union County Convention In El Dorado". Sacramento Daily Union. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 31 July 1862. p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2017. S. W. Sanderson was nominated for Assembly. 
  10. ^ "The Legislature, Assembly". Sacramento Daily Union (24 (3619)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 3 November 1862. p. 8. Retrieved October 5, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c "The Supreme Court". San Francisco Call. Library of Congress, Chronicling America. June 22, 1895. p. 5. Retrieved July 18, 2017. Under the constitutional provision, on October 21, 1863, Oscar L. Shafter, Lorenzo Sawyer, Silas W. Sanderson, John Curry and A. L. Rhodes were elected Supreme Court Justices. The new court organized January 2, 1864, and in accordance with law, the Judges drew lots to determine the tenure of their official terms, with the following result: Shafter drew for ten years, Rhodes for eight. Sawyer for six, Curry for four and Sanderson for two. 
  12. ^ "From California". Evening star. (Washington, D.C.). Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. June 22, 1863. p. 1. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  13. ^ "State Government, Judicial Department, Supreme Court". Sacramento Daily Union (26 (3988)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 January 1864. p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2017. 
  14. ^ "The Parties and the Candidates". Sacramento Daily Union (30 (4547)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 18 October 1865. p. 2. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Supreme Court". Sacramento Daily Union (36 (5544)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. January 1, 1868. p. 3. Retrieved July 7, 2017. Silas W. Sanderson, Associate Justice 
  16. ^ Angel, Myron (2002). History of San Luis Obispo County, California; with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers. p. 151. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Recent Elections". Staunton spectator. (Staunton, Va.). Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. September 17, 1867. p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  18. ^ Levy, Daniel W. (Summer–Fall 1996). "Classical Lawyers and the Southern Pacific Railroad" (PDF). Western Legal History, a publication of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society. 9 (2): 177–226, 182. ISSN 0896-2189. Retrieved July 7, 2017. On the other hand, Sanderson, a former justice on the California Supreme Court, left the bench in 1870 to head the legal department of the corporation until his death, and never worked for another employer. 
  19. ^ "Pacific Coast, On the first of the year Colonel Creed Hammond". Santa Cruz Sentinel (6 (69)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 5 January 1887. Retrieved July 18, 2017. This is the place made vacant by the recent death of Judge Silas Sanderson, and is the highest position in the Law Department of the allied railroads of this coast. 
  20. ^ "The Late Judge Sanderson". Daily Alta California (41). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 9 July 1886. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Lawyers' Fees in San Francisco". Fayette County herald (Fayette County, OH). Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. July 25, 1878. p. 1. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  22. ^ a b "Silas W. Sanderson, Death of a Great Jurist and Able Attorney". Daily Alta California (40 (13451)). 25 June 1886. p. 1. Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Married". Sacramento Daily Union (14 (2165)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 5 March 1858. p. 2. Retrieved July 7, 2017. In Sacramento, March 3d, at the Orleans Hotel, by the Rev. Wm. H. Hill, Silas W. Sanderson, of Placerville, to Maggie B., daughter of John S. Ormsby, of Sonoma county. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Warner Cope
Chief Justice of California
1864–1866
Succeeded by
John Currey
Preceded by
Elections under 1862 amendment to California constitution and 1863 enabling law
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
1866–1870
Succeeded by
Jackson Temple