West Hughes Humphreys

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West Hughes Humphreys
West Hughes Humphreys.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
In office
March 26, 1853 – June 26, 1862
Appointed byFranklin Pierce
Preceded byMorgan Welles Brown
Succeeded byConnally Findlay Trigg
3rd Attorney General of Tennessee
In office
1839–1851
GovernorJames K. Polk
James C. Jones
Aaron V. Brown
Neill S. Brown
William Trousdale
Preceded byReturn J. Meigs III
Succeeded byWilliam Graham Swan
Personal details
Born
West Hughes Humphreys

(1806-08-26)August 26, 1806
Montgomery County, Tennessee
DiedOctober 16, 1882(1882-10-16) (aged 76)
Nashville, Tennessee
RelationsJohn W. Morton
FatherParry Wayne Humphreys
EducationTransylvania University
read law

West Hughes Humphreys (August 26, 1806 – October 16, 1882) was the 3rd Attorney General of Tennessee and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. He was ultimately impeached by the United States House of Representatives and convicted and removed from office by the United States Senate for supporting the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Education and career[edit]

Born on August 26, 1806, in Montgomery County, Tennessee,[1] Humphreys attended the law department of Transylvania University,[1] failing to graduate due to ill health,[2] and read law in 1828.[1] He entered private practice in Clarksville, Tennessee from 1828 to 1829.[1] He continued private practice in Somerville, Tennessee from 1829 to 1839.[1] He was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1835 to 1838.[1] He was the 3rd Attorney General of Tennessee from 1839 to 1851.[1] He was reporter for the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1839 to 1851.[1] He resumed private practice in Nashville, Tennessee from 1851 to 1853.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Humphreys was nominated by President Franklin Pierce on March 24, 1853, to a joint seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee vacated by Judge Morgan Welles Brown.[3][1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 26, 1853, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on June 26, 1862, due to impeachment, conviction. and removal from office.[1]

Impeachment, conviction and removal from office[edit]

Humphreys served as a Judge of the Confederate District Court for the District of Tennessee from 1861 to 1865.[1]

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 United States Supreme Court Justice John Catron; and imprisoning a Union sympathizer with "intent to injure him."[2][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.[2] 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]

Later career and death[edit]

Following the end of the American Civil War, Humphreys resumed private practice in Nashville from 1866 to 1882.[1] In later life, Humphreys argued for the prohibition of alcohol and wrote several books.[2] He died on October 16, 1882, in Nashville.[1]

Family[edit]

Humphreys' father, Parry Wayne Humphreys, was a United States Representative from Tennessee.[2] 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]

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 k l m n o p "Humphreys, West Hughes - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Judge West Hughes Humphreys". United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. 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.
  7. ^ "John W. Morton Passes Away in Shelby". The Tennessean. November 21, 1914. pp. 1–2. Retrieved September 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. 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
3rd 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
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee

1853–1862
Succeeded by
Connally Findlay Trigg