Thomas Stanley Matthews was a wunderkind. He entered Kenyon College as a junior and graduated at sixteen. He read law and then moved from Ohio to Tennessee where he was admitted to the bar at eighteen. He returned to Ohio two years where he was a newspaper editor. His strong antislavery views propelled him to a number of public offices.
Matthews would later serve briefly in the United States Senate. He was nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes when Justice Swayne resigned. The appointment was not confirmed. The senate accused Hayes of cronyism since he and Matthews were classmates at Kenyon College, practiced law in Cincinnati, and served as officers in the state infantry. Garfield renominated Matthews. The matter finally came to a vote in 1881 and Matthews' appointment was confirmed, 24 to 23.
Matthews proved a hard worker who shouldered significant responsibility. Though his tenure was relatively brief (only seven years), his opinions for the Court in the Hurtado and Yick Wo cases, have had lasting influence since they are cited by judges to this day.