Benjamin Robbins Curtis was born on November 4, 1809 in Watertown, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin and Lois (Robbins) Curtis. In his youth, he attended public school in Newton and entered Harvard in 1825, graduating in 1829. He thereafter graduated from Harvard Law School in 1831, having studied under the eminent Joseph Story, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar the following year. Curtis was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court by President Millard Fillmore on December 11, 1851 and was soon confirmed by the Senate as the first Supreme Court justice to have earned a law degree. He was noted as one of the two dissenters in the famous Dred Scott case, resigning his seat on September 30, 1857 due to the bitter disagreements existing between himself and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Upon his resignation, Curtis returned to his law practice in Boston, arguing several cases before his former colleagues on the Supreme Court. In 1868, he acted as counsel for President Andrew Johnson in his impeachment trial, and he thereafter declined Johnson's offer of the position of U.S. Attorney General. He died in Newport, Rhode Island on September 18, 1874 and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.
Executive Powerby Benjamin Robbins Curtis
This little booklet is a critique of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation written by a former Supreme Court Justice who denounced the actions of the President as those of a usurper and a military despot. This essay is especially interesting in light of the fact that, not only did Curtis view the war against the South as just, but he had also been the author of one of the two dissenting opinions in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford case before resigning from the Supreme Court. Also included as an appendix is a mock trial of Lincoln for treason and war crimes, written by New York Democrat, John Mullaly.
- Little, Brown & Company
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 61 KB
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