William B. Hornblower

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William Hornblower
Personal details
Born (1851-05-13)May 13, 1851
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Died June 16, 1914(1914-06-16) (aged 63)
Litchfield, Connecticut, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Princeton University (BA)
Columbia University (LLB)

William Butler Hornblower (May 13, 1851 – June 16, 1914) was a New York jurist who was unsuccessfully nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Grover Cleveland in 1893.

Early life and education[edit]

William Butler Hownblower was born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1851.[1] He was the son of William Henry Hornblower, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Mathilda Butler.[1] Hornblower was the descendant of an old American family; his great-grandfather, Josiah Hornblower, was a member of the Continental Congress.[1] In 1882 he married Sandra C. Sanford, with whom he had three children.[1] After Sandra died, Hornblower married her sister, Emily Sanford Nelson, who was herself a widow.[1] Hornblower graduated from Princeton University in 1871 and the law school of Columbia College in 1875.[1]

Legal and political career[edit]

After graduating from Columbia, he practiced law with the New York bankruptcy law firm of Carter & Eaton until 1888, when he and two partners formed their own firm.[2] A lifelong Democrat, in 1890 he was appointed by New York governor David B. Hill to a commission on state constitutional amendments.[2]

Hornblower worked to defeat Isaac H. Maynard, Hill's preferred candidate for a seat on the New York Court of Appeals, in 1891, earning Hill's enmity.[3] Hornblower was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Cleveland in 1893.[2] New York's U.S. Senators, one of whom was Hill, opposed the nomination, as did several pro-silver Democratic Senators.[3] The nomination was referred to committee and rejected after several months' delay by a 24-30 vote.[2]

Following his defeat, Hornblower returned to his successful New York law practice. In 1904, he was elected President of the New York State Bar Association.[2] That same year, Hornblower served on a committee charged with consolidating the state's laws.[4] In 1907 he formed a new law firm, Hornblower, Miller and Potter, a predecessor to the modern firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher.[5] In 1913, he was appointed president of the New York City Bar Association. Shortly before his death, Hornblower was appointed to a seat on the New York Court of Appeals, but served for just ten weeks.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Harrison, Mitchell C. (1902). Prominent and Progressive Americans: An Encyclopædia of Contemporaneous Biography. New York: New York Tribune. pp. 170–171. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Judge Hornblower Dies in 64th Year" (PDF). The New York Times. 1914-06-17. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  3. ^ a b Brodsky, Alyn (2000). Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character. St. Martin's Press. pp. 326–327. ISBN 0-312-26883-1. 
  4. ^ Bergan, Francis (1985). The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1847-1932. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 247–248. ISBN 0-231-05950-7. 
  5. ^ "Willkie Farr & Gallagher website". Retrieved January 22, 2008. 

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