Joseph P. Bradley
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).