Chief Justice Edward White Jr.

On this date in 1921, Chief Justice Edward Douglass White Jr. died in Washington, D.C.. Born on November 3, 1845 in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, White was raised in a prominent political family. His father was a former Louisiana Governor and his grandfather a congressman and later judge. White attended Georgetown University when the Civil War interrupted his education. While his exact military service is in dispute, White was known to have served in the Confederate military and rose to at least the rank of lieutenant in a calvary unit. Following the war, White studied law at the University of Louisiana (now known as Tulane) and was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1868. While practicing in New Orleans, White briefly served in the Louisiana State Senate in 1874. White benefited greatly from the “spoils system” in place during that era, especially important was his close associate to Governor Francis Nicholls. Governor Nicholls eventually named White an Associate Justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court where he served from 1879 to 1880. In 1891, White was appointed by the Louisiana legislature to serve as United States Senator where he promoted Louisiana sugar interests. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland nominated Edward Douglass White Jr. to the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court for the seat vacated by Justice Samuel Blatchford. He served the next 16 years on the Court and became known as a fairly conservative justice. On December 12, 1910, President William Howard Taft nonimated Justice Edward Douglass White Jr. to the position of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court which was vacant as a result of Chief Justice Melville Fuller’s death. White became the first Supreme Court Justice elevated to the post of Chief Justice since Chief Justice Rutledge’s appointment in 1795. While on the Court, White’s most lasting contribution was as the originator of the “Rule of Reason” analysis in anti-trust litigation. In all, White served a total of 27 years on the Court before his death while still serving as Chief Justice at age 75. Chief Justice White would be replaced by the very man who appointed him Chief Justice–former President William Howard Taft.