Justice Howell Jackson

On this date in 1895, Justice Howell Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee. Howell Jackson was born in Paris, Tennessee on April 8, 1832 and raised in Jackson, Tennessee. Jackson graduated with an A.B. in 1849 from West Tennessee College in Jackson, Tennessee. He went on to attend the University of Virginia for two years. After a stint clerking for a Tennessee Supreme Court Justice as well as a former Congressman, Jackson then attended Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, Tennessee where he graduated with an LL.B. in 1856. Upon admission to the Tennessee Bar, Howell Jackson engaged in private practice first in Jackson then Memphis from 1856 to 1861. Jackson opposed succession from the Union, but during the Civil War (1861-1864) served as a receiver of confiscated property for western Tennessee on behalf of the Confederate government. After the War and swearing allegance to the Union, Jackson entered private practice again from 1864 to 1880 in Memphis and later Jackson. Jackson also served as Special Judge of the Court of Arbitration for Western Tennessee from 1874 to 1877.

In 1880, Jackson was elected to the Tennessee House of Representative from Memphis. In 1881, the Tennessee General Assembly elected Howell Jackson to the United States Senate where he would serve until 1886. As a U.S. Senator, Jackson supported civil service reform and the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Senator Howell Jackson resigned his Senate seat on April 14, 1886 when President Grover Cleveland appointed him as a Judge to the United States Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit. As a result of court reorganization, Judge Howell Jackson’s seat would be abolished, but he became a Judge on the newly organized United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1891. On February 2, 1893, President Benjamin Harrison nominated Howell Jackson to the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court for the vacancy created by the death of Justice Lucius Lamar. A year after taking office Justice Jackson contracted tubercolosis which he succumbed to in 1895 at the age of 63. In spite of having been on the Court for less than two years and being ill during the last half of it, Justice Jackson wrote an impressive 46 opinions and four dissents and his expertise on patent law was particularly valuable as there was a backlog of cases dealing with those issues.