Benjamin R. Curtis

Media Items
Personal Information
Saturday, November 4, 1809
Tuesday, September 15, 1874
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Monday, September 22, 1851
Sworn In 
Friday, October 10, 1851
Left Office 
Wednesday, September 30, 1857
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
5 years, 11 months, 20 days
Benjamin R. Curtis
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: C. Gregory Stapko)

Benjamin Robert Curtis was born in Massachusetts and educated at Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Eventually, he entered law practice in Boston. After 15 years of practice, Curtis ran successfully for a seat in the Massachusetts House. Curtis was a strong ally of Daniel Webster. Webster, who was serving as Secretary of State for President Millard Fillmore, recommended Curtis to the Supreme Court.

Curtis resigned from the Court after just 6 years of service. The collegiality often associated with the Court was not present in Curtis's case: He and his colleagues argued bitterly over the Dred Scott case and other pre-Civil War issues. Curtis also labored over his circuit-riding duties and he found the pay inadequate.

After leaving the bench, Curtis took up a successful law practice in Boston. He had several occasions to appear before the Court on which he once sat; and, he served as lead counsel representing President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial in the Senate in 1868.

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Benjamin R. Curtis. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
Benjamin R. Curtis, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"Benjamin R. Curtis," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,