West Hughes Humphreys

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West Hughes Humphreys
West Hughes Humphreys.jpg
3rd Attorney General of Tennessee
In office
1839–1851
Preceded byReturn J. Meigs III
Succeeded byWilliam Graham Swan
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
In office
1853–1862
Preceded byMorgan Welles Brown
Succeeded byConnally Findlay Trigg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
In office
1853–1862
Preceded byMorgan Welles Brown
Succeeded byConnally Findlay Trigg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
In office
1853–1862
Preceded byMorgan Welles Brown
Succeeded byConnally Findlay Trigg
Personal details
Born(1806-08-26)August 26, 1806
Montgomery County, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedOctober 16, 1882(1882-10-16) (aged 76)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
ParentsParry Wayne Humphreys
RelativesJohn W. Morton (son-in-law)
Alma materTransylvania University

West Hughes Humphreys (August 26, 1806 – October 16, 1882) was a United States district court judge and a judge of the Confederate States of America. It was for the latter office that he was removed from his position in the former.

Early life[edit]

Humphreys was born on August 26, 1806 in Montgomery County, Tennessee.[1][2] His father, Parry Wayne Humphreys, was a Congressman from Tennessee.[3]

Humphreys studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky,[1][2] but failed to graduate due to ill health, and received a law licence in 1828.[3]

Career[edit]

Humphreys was in private practice of law in Clarksville, Tennessee from 1828 to 1829 and in private practice of law in Somerville, Tennessee from 1829 to 1839.[1][2] Humphreys later served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1835 to 1838, and as state attorney general from 1839 to 1851 and he was a reporter of the Supreme Court of Tennessee from 1839 to 1851.[1][2]

On March 24, 1853, Humphreys was appointed by President Franklin Pierce to preside over all three of the Federal District Courts for Tennessee, the seats having been vacated by Morgan W. Brown.[1] Two days later, Humphreys was confirmed by the United States Senate and received his commission.[1][2] Humphreys supported the secessionist movement that led to the Civil War and accepted an appointment to the Confederate District Court of Tennessee on which he served from 1861 to 1865.[1][2]

On May 19, 1862 the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Humphreys on the following charges: Publicly calling for secession; Giving aid to an armed rebellion; conspiring with Jefferson Davis; serving as a Confederate judge; confiscating the property of Military Governor Andrew Johnson and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Catron; and imprisoning a Union sympathizer with "intent to injure him."[3][4][5]

On June 26, 1862, the United States Senate began the trial of the impeachment in his absence and later that day unanimously convicted him of all charges presented, except that of confiscating the property of Andrew Johnson.[3] He was removed from office and barred from holding office under the United States for life. He held his Confederate judgeship until the end of the Civil War.[1]

In later life, Humphreys argued for the prohibition of alcohol and wrote several books.[3] He was also engaged in the private practice of law in Nashville, Tennessee from 1866 to 1882.[1][2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Humphreys was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.[6] He had a daughter, Annie Humphreys, who married John W. Morton, a captain in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War and later the founder of the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.[7]

Humphreys died on October 16, 1882 in Nashville, Tennessee.[1][2]

Works[edit]

  • Suggestions on the Subject of Bank Charters (1859)
  • Some Suggestions on the Subject of Monopolies and Special Charters (1859)
  • An Address on the Use of Alcoholic Liquors and the Consequences (1879)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Humphreys, West Hughes". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Judge West Hughes Humphreys". United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sturgis, Amy H. "West H. Humphreys". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society and the University of Tennessee Press. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Aynes, Richard L. (1993). "The Impeachment and Removal of Tennessee Judge West Humphreys". Georgia Journal of Southern Legal History. 2: 71–98.
  5. ^ Hall, Kermit L. (1975). "West H. Humphreys and the Crisis of the Union". Tennessee Historical Quarterly. 34: 48–69.
  6. ^ "The Late Judge Humphreys". The Tennessean. October 19, 1882. p. 8. Retrieved September 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  7. ^ "John W. Morton Passes Away in Shelby". The Tennessean. November 21, 1914. pp. 1–2. Retrieved September 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)). To Captain Morton came the peculiar distinction of having organized that branch of the Ku Klux Klan which operated in Nashville and the adjacent territory, but a more signal honor was his when he performed the ceremonies which initiated Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest into the mysterious ranks of the Ku Klux Klan.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robinson, William M., Justice in Grey: A History of the Judicial System of the Confederate States (Cambridge (MA), 1941)
Legal offices
Preceded by
Return J. Meigs III
Attorney General of Tennessee
1839–1851
Succeeded by
William Graham Swan
Preceded by
Morgan Welles Brown
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
1853–1862
Succeeded by
Connally Findlay Trigg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
1853–1862
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
1853–1862