MORRISON R. WAITE: The Triumph of Character by C. Peter Magrath

MORRISON R. WAITE: The Triumph of Character

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Probably very few readers other than American history specialists and law students will so much as recognize the name, yet Morrison Waite held a position of great importance throughout a crucial period, and the effects of his work and his personality can still be felt today. He was Chief Justice from 1874 until his death in 1888. At the time of his appointment by Grant (a fifth choice and ""with barely any national reputation""), the Supreme Court ""had labored under a cloud of suspicion for nearly two decades"". In 14 years he ""restored respectability"" and ""moreover...displayed a...fact-consciousness, that in the hands of...such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis D. Brandeis has become a characteristic of the best in the modern Supreme Court's decisions."" Assuredly, ""Waite was no Marshall""; his was a period of ""consolidation and conciliation"" as befitted his essentially conservative outlook. Yet, while he shelved the new problems of civil rights for us today to cope with, he did stem the tide of profiteering and capitalism-gone-wild which was perhaps the primary threat of his era. A fascinating era it certainly was, and one which no doubt will soon take its turn in the spotlight of popular interest. Mr. Magrath deserves considerable credit for rediscovering one of the few unblemished figures of that time. He has done a good job carefully and well.

Publisher: Macmillan