Ward Hunt

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Ward Hunt
Ward Hunt - Brady-Handy.jpg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
December 11, 1872 – January 27, 1882
Nominated byUlysses S. Grant
Preceded bySamuel Nelson
Succeeded bySamuel Blatchford
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
January 12, 1868 – December 31, 1869
Preceded byWilliam Wright
Succeeded byRobert Earl
Personal details
Born(1810-06-14)June 14, 1810
Utica, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 24, 1886(1886-03-24) (aged 75)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Before 1848)
Free Soil (1848–1854)
Republican (1868–1886)
Mary Ann Savage
(m. 1837; died 1846)

Maria Taylor
(m. 1853; died 1866)
EducationUnion College (BA)
Litchfield Law School

Ward Hunt (June 14, 1810 – March 24, 1886) was an American jurist and politician. He was Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1868 to 1869, and an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1872 to 1882.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hunt was the son of Montgomery James Hunt (d. 1871), long-time cashier of the Bank of Utica, and Elizabeth (née Stringham) Hunt.[2] He was a classmate of Horatio Seymour at the Oxford and Geneva Academies, and graduated from Union College in 1828, where he was an early member of the Kappa Alpha Society. Then he studied law with Juge James Gould at Litchfield Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut and with Hiram Denio in Utica, and was admitted to the bar in 1831.[2][3]


He was a Democratic member from Oneida County of the New York State Assembly in 1839, and was Mayor of Utica in 1844.[4] In 1848, he joined the Free Soil Party, and in 1855 he was among the founders of the New York Republican Party.[4]

Hunt remained in private practice until 1865, when he was elected to an eight-year term on the New York Court of Appeals on the Republican ticket, to succeed to the seat held by his former law teacher and partner Hiram Denio. Hunt became Chief Judge in 1868 after the sudden death of Chief Judge William B. Wright. In 1870, he was legislated out of office but was appointed one of the Commissioners of Appeals.[2]

U.S. Supreme Court[edit]

Hunt was a friend and patron of political boss Roscoe Conkling, who was an associate of President Ulysses S. Grant. When Samuel Nelson retired from the Supreme Court, Conkling asked Grant to nominate Hunt for the vacancy. Hunt was nominated on December 3, 1872, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 11,[5] and took his seat in January 1873.[6]

Hunt had little impact on the court, siding with the majority in all but 22 cases in his ten years on the job and writing only four dissenting opinions.[7] His most notable contribution came while riding circuit in New York, where he presided over The United States v. Susan B. Anthony. Citing the 14th Amendment, Susan B. Anthony argued that she was constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote and had not broken the law when she voted in the 1872 election.[7] Justice Hunt refused to allow Anthony to testify on her own behalf, allowed statements given by her at the time of her arrest to be allowed as "testimony," explicitly ordered the jury to return a guilty verdict, refused to poll the jury afterwards, and read an opinion he had written before the trial even started. Hunt found that Anthony had indeed broken the law and fined Anthony $100 (which she refused to pay).[8]

In 1878, Hunt suffered a severe paralyzing stroke, which prevented him from attending court sessions or rendering opinions. Nonetheless he did not retire, because at the time in order to retire with a full pension a person had to put in at least ten years of government service and a minimum age of 70.[7] To encourage him to retire, Congress passed a special provision under which he could receive a pension if he would retire within 30 days.[9] Hunt did so on January 27, 1882, and enjoyed his pension until his death in Washington, D.C., four years later.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1837,[10] Hunt was married to Mary Ann Savage (1819–1846), the daughter of U.S. Representative and Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court John Savage, with whom he had three children,[1] one of whom died in childhood.[7] Together they were the parents of:[11]

  • Elizabeth Stringham "Eliza" Hunt, who married Arthur Breese Johnson (1829–1883).[11]

After his wife's death, he remained a widower for eight years until 1853 when he married the daughter of James Taylor, the former Cashier of the Commercial Bank of Albany.[1]

Hunt died on March 24, 1886 in Washington, D.C.[1] He was buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary. Ex-Judge Ward Hunt". The New York Times. March 25, 1886. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Ward E. Hunt | Litchfield Ledger – Student". www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  3. ^ "The Supreme Court Historical Society – Timeline of the Court – Ward Hunt". supremecourthistory.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b Hough, A.M., M.D., Franklin Benjamin (1858). The New York Civil List: Containing the Names and Origin of the Civil Divisions, and the Names and Dates of Election or Appointment of the Principal State and County Officers from the Revolution to the Present Time. Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Co., Publishers. Retrieved 6 April 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "WASHINGTON NOTES.; Judge Hunt Confirmed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The Attempt to Steal the Alabama Legislature. Attitude of Democrats Toward the Indian Peace Policy. Opposition to the Soldiers and Sailors' Land-Bounty Bill. More Cavalry Ordered to the Valley of the Rio Grande". The New York Times. 12 December 1872. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ Lurie, Jonathan; Chase, Salmon Portland (2004). The Chase Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. ABC-CLIO. p. 52. ISBN 9781576078211. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cushman, Clare (2012). The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–2012. CQ Press. pp. 185–188. ISBN 9781452235349. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  8. ^ Famous American Trials: The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, University of Missouri (Kansas City) Law School Archived 2011-01-23 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Ward Hunt | American jurist". britannica.com. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Litchfield Ledger - Student". www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b Daughters of the American Revolution (1900). Lineage Book – National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Daughters of the American Revolution. p. 247. Retrieved 6 April 2018.


  • [1] Supreme Court Historical Society
  • [2] Oyez

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Wright
Chief Judge of the
New York Court of Appeals

Succeeded by
Robert Earl
Preceded by
Samuel Nelson
Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States

Succeeded by
Samuel Blatchford