Joseph P. Bradley

Media Items
Personal Information
Sunday, March 14, 1813
Friday, January 22, 1892
Childhood Location 
New York
Childhood Surroundings 
New York
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Sunday, March 20, 1870
Sworn In 
Tuesday, March 22, 1870
Left Office 
Thursday, January 21, 1892
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
21 years, 9 months, 30 days
New Jersey
Joseph P. Bradley
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Edmund Clarence Messer)

Joseph P. Bradley rose to a seat on the nation's highest court without benefit of family fame or fortune. Bradley rose from a humble beginning. The oldest of eleven children, he was raised on a small New York farm. His aptitude earned him entrance to Rutgers University. Three years after graduating, Bradley entered legal practice and became a prominent railroad lawyer and Republican activist. He had a deep commitment to learning and amassed a personal library of 16,000 books.

Ulysses S. Grant appointed Bradley to the Supreme Court in 1870. He advocated a broad nationalist view of the commerce clause and of the Fourteenth Amendment. But Bradley voted with the majority in several cases that denied national protection for the rights of blacks. His most famous statement on matters of race came in the Civil Rights Cases (1883).

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Cite this Page
Joseph P. Bradley. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
Joseph P. Bradley, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"Joseph P. Bradley," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,