Levi Woodbury (December 22, 1789 – September 4, 1851) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, a U.S. Senator, Governor of New Hampshire and cabinet member in three administrations. He was the first Justice to have attended law school.
Woodbury was born in Francestown, New Hampshire, the son of Mary and Peter Woodbury. He began his education at Atkinson Academy. He graduated from Dartmouth College, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1809, briefly attended Tapping Reeve Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut, and read law to be admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1812. He became the first Supreme Court justice to attend law school. Later, he was in private practice in Francestown from 1812 to 1816. He also joined the Freemasons.
His education contributed to his early start in law, which led to his later political positions. He was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1812 and began practicing law in his hometown. During his time in Francestown, he wrote the Hillsborough Resolves to defend the Madison administration for their decisions in the War of 1812, which marked the beginning of his political involvement. Following the publication of his defense, he gained the recognition he needed to receive an appointment to the state senate in 1816. In quick succession, he was appointed to the state supreme court a year later, and in 1823, he was elected as the Governor of New Hampshire. During the time of his gubernatorial election, there was factionalism within the party. The caucus chose Samuel Dinsmoor as the candidate for governor, but an "irregular" public convention elected Woodbury as the other candidate. Woodbury defeated Dinsmoor by a wide margin, but his one year as governor was a failure. He tried to reconcile the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans but did not make a lot of progress. Eventually he became a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, during which time he served as the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Throughout Woodbury’s political career, he was characterized as being independent and moderate, which some scholars interpret as indecisiveness and hesitancy...
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