William Cushing

Media Items
Personal Information
Born 
Saturday, March 1, 1732
Died 
Thursday, September 13, 1810
Childhood Location 
Massachusetts
Childhood Surroundings 
Massachusetts
Position 
Associate Justice
Seat 
3
Nominated By 
Washington
Commissioned on 
Sunday, September 27, 1789
Sworn In 
Tuesday, February 2, 1790
Left Office 
Thursday, September 13, 1810
Reason For Leaving 
Death
Length of Service 
20 years, 7 months, 11 days
Home 
Massachusetts
William Cushing
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: C. Gregory Stapko)
Biography 

William Cushing was born to a old and distinguished Massachusetts family. He was a teacher for a year following graduation from Harvard College. He then turned to law and established a private practice in Scituate, his home town. But he was not a skilled lawyer and left practice for the bench. He served as a justice of the peace and as a judge of probates in the region of Massachusetts now known as Maine, but he seemed incapable of making decisions, which is a necessary condition of judging. (Cushing was the last American judge to wear a full wig. He abandoned the habit in 1790.)

Cushing was a reluctant supporter of revolution in the colonies. But he was a strong advocate of the new Constitution. He was vice president of the state ratifying convention in 1788.

Washington nominated Cushing as one of the original Supreme Court appointees. While still on the High Court, Cushing ran unsuccessfully against Samuel Adams for governor of Massachusetts. Washington offered Cushing the chief justice position when Jay resigned, but Cushing declined.

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Cite this Page
William Cushing. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_cushing>.
William Cushing, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_cushing (last visited September 10, 2014).
"William Cushing," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_cushing.