Justice Noah Swayne

On this date in 1862, Noah Swayne was nominated by President Abraham Lincoln to serve as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Born on December 7, 1804 in Frederick County, Virginia, Swayne was raised in a traditional Quaker family. He “read the law” and was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1823. In 1824, Swayne moved to Coshocton, Ohio where he took up private practice. In 1825, Swayne was elected Coshocton County Attorney. In 1829, Swayne was elected to the Ohio state legislature. In 1830, Swayne was appointed by President Andrew Jackson to by United States Attorney and moved to Columbus, Ohio. While serving as U.S. Attorney, Swayne was elected to the Columbus city council in 1834 and again to the state legislature in 1836. In 1841, Swayne left to U.S. Attorney post. After the formation of the Republican Party in 1855, Swayne became an early member and organizer and good friend of Justice John McLean. This led to Justice Swayne’s appointment to the Supreme Court where he took the seat of his good friend Justice John McLean after his death in 1861. While on the Court, Swayne was known for his strong support of President Lincoln’s war measures and authorship of the decision upholding the Federal Income Tax when it was imposed by the Revenue Act of 1864. Otherwise Swayne wrote few decisions and later in his career remained on the bench after he was quite infirm. On January 24, 1881, Justice Swayne retired from the United States Supreme Court after having served almost 19 years on the Court. Justice Swayne moved back to Ohio after his retirement. Justice Swayne passed away on June 8, 1884 in New York City, NY at age 79. Justice Swayne is the only Quaker to have served on the U.S. Supreme Court.