Thomas Drummond (judge)

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Thomas Drummond
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Seventh Circuit
In office
December 22, 1869 – July 18, 1884
Appointed by Ulysses Grant
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Walter Gresham
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
February 13, 1855 – December 22, 1869
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Henry Blodgett
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Illinois
In office
February 19, 1850 – February 13, 1855
Appointed by Zachary Taylor
Preceded by Nathaniel Pope
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Personal details
Born (1809-10-16)October 16, 1809
Bristol Mills, Maine, U.S.
Died May 15, 1890(1890-05-15) (aged 80)
Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Whig (Before 1854)
Republican (1854–1890)
Education Bowdoin College (BA)

Thomas Drummond (October 16, 1809 – May 15, 1890) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Bristol Mills, Maine, Drummond graduated from Bowdoin College in 1830, and read law to enter the Bar in Philadelphia in 1833. He had a private practice in Galena, Illinois, from 1835 to 1850. In addition to practicing law, he served as a member of the Illinois General Assembly from 1840-1841 as a Whig; during this time he became acquainted with fellow Whig Assemblyman Abraham Lincoln. Drummond served as a judge for the Circuit Court of Illinois from about 1841 to about 1850.

On January 31, 1850, President Zachary Taylor, a Whig like Drummond, nominated Drummond to the United States District Court for the District of Illinois (which at that time had only one seat); he replaced Nathaniel Pope, who had died recently. Drummond was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission, on February 19, 1850.

On February 13, 1855, Illinois was subdivided into two judicial districts, with one judge assigned to each district; Drummond was assigned to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which sat in Chicago. Chicago in the 1850s had a bustling port on Lake Michigan and as the only federal judge in Chicago, Drummond had jurisdiction to hear cases in admiralty law, a field in which he possessed considerable expertise. The federal court also had jurisdiction over patent law, and Drummond heard several major patent cases, including one involving Cyrus McCormick.

In 1860, Drummond presided over the trial of abolitionist John Hossack, who was accused of violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 for helping a fugitive slave escape from slave catchers; a jury found Hossack guilty, but recommended mercy, and Drummond sentenced him to only ten days in prison.

During his time at the Northern District, Drummond presided over approximately a dozen cases tried by Abraham Lincoln, who was renowned as one of the greatest lawyers of his day. Shortly before the United States presidential election, 1860, Drummond and several prominent Chicago lawyers hosted a dinner attended by both Lincoln and one of his rivals, Stephen A. Douglas. After Lincoln's election, Drummond was mentioned as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States, but Lincoln ultimately opted to appoint David Davis, who had served as Lincoln's campaign manager.

Like Lincoln, Drummond became a supporter of the Republican Party in the course of the 1850s. At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Drummond was an outspoken supporter of the Union. When the Union instituted a draft in 1863, Drummond presided over trials of draft dodgers. He also issued an injunction against the Chicago and Moline Water Power Company, ordering them to dismantle a dam built across the Mississippi River that interfered with the Rock Island Arsenal.

In 1863, Union Army General Ambrose Burnside ordered the Chicago Times closed because it had run articles highly critical of President Lincoln and his cabinet. The case was brought to Drummond, who ruled that the paper could continue publishing until the case was decided. When Union troops stopped the presses anyway, Drummond was outraged, and met with prominent Chicago citizens to organize an enormous meeting of 20,000 people in front of the Cook County Courthouse to protest Burnside's heavihandedness and insisting on freedom of speech and civilian control of the military. Two days later, the city learned that Lincoln had rescinded Burnside's order.

On December 8, 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Drummond to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to a new seat created by 16 Stat. 44. Drummond was confirmed by the Senate, and received his commission, on December 22, 1869.

In the wake of the Panic of 1873, nearly all midwestern railroads went into receivership and Drummond oversaw their reorganization. During the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Drummond argued that railroads were analogous to public highways and therefore deserved the protection of the courts. At his request, federal troops were sent in to prevent railroad strikes - strikers who defied his order were imprisoned for contempt of court.

Drummond retired on July 18, 1884. He died in Wheaton, Illinois.

Sources[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel Pope
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Illinois
1850–1855
Seat abolished
New seat Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
1855–1869
Succeeded by
Henry Blodgett
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Seventh Circuit
1869–1884
Succeeded by
Walter Gresham