Morrison R. Waite

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Personal Information
Friday, November 29, 1816
Friday, March 23, 1888
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Chief Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Wednesday, January 21, 1874
Sworn In 
Wednesday, March 4, 1874
Left Office 
Friday, March 23, 1888
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
14 years, 0 months, 19 days
Morrison R. Waite
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Israel Quick)

Waite was born and raised in Connecticut. He left his home state to make his career practicing law in northwestern Ohio. Waite ran twice unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and spent one term in the state legislature. Waite later declined a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. He gained a measure of national attention when he represented the U.S. delegationto an international arbitration aimed at settling a dispute between the United States and Great Britain concerning the outfitting of Confederate vessels in British ports. The United States was awarded $15.5 million and brought Waite praise and attention. Waite was a surprise choice for the chief justice position. Grant had offered the position to another candidate who turned him down. Grant approached three others but they withdrew when the Senate threatened rejection. Waite was Grant's fifth and final choice for the job. His surprise appointment also generated resentment among several of his colleagues on the Court who aspired to the center chair but did not obtain it. Waite's legacy to constitutional law falls into three domains. His opinions were the first interpreting the Civil War Amendments. Second, his opinions guided state governments as they sought to address economic changes resulting from the industrial revolution. Finally, Waite's view of the judicial function guided thinking about judicial review well into the 20th century.

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Morrison R. Waite. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 August 2015. <>.
Morrison R. Waite, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 28, 2015).
"Morrison R. Waite," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 28, 2015,