Cushing, William

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Cushing, William

William Cushing. U.S. SUPREME COURT
William Cushing.

William Cushing was born March 1, 1732. He graduated from Harvard College in 1751, and received an honorary master of arts degree from Yale University in 1753 and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Harvard University in 1785.

After his Admission to the Bar in 1755, Cushing began his judicial career in Lincoln County, Massachusetts (now a part of Maine), as judge for the Probate Court of that county during 1760 and 1761. In 1772, he served as a justice for the Massachusetts Superior Court, followed by a term as chief justice of that court from 1777 to 1789.

"Where [states' rights have] been abridged, it was thought necessary for the greater, indispensable good of the whole."
—William Cushing

In 1779, Cushing was a member of the first Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. In 1788, he acted as vice president at the Massachusetts Convention, a convention that endorsed the U.S. Constitution. Cushing returned to the bench in 1789 as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, rendering decisions until 1810.

In addition to his legal and judicial career, Cushing was active in the establishment of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a fellow of that institution from 1780 to 1810.

Cushing died September 13, 1810, in Scituate, Massachusetts.

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When Jefferson wrote to congratulate Madison on French revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees, he went on at greater length to rejoice in the death of Associate Justice to the Supreme Court William Cushing, which provided "an opportunity of closing the reformation by a successor of unquestionable republican principles" (p.
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Although it is not clear that John Adams, who wrote the constitution, meant to outlaw slavery, a series of legal actions, culminating in the three cases collectively known as the Quock Walker case, led to a momentous decision by Chief Justice William Cushing of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.