November 10, 1806 – Henry Brockholst Livingston Receives Recess Appointment to U.S. Supreme Court from President Thomas Jefferson

Henry Livingston, a forebear of both Presidents Bush, was born in New York City in 1757. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and served in the American Revolution.

He was a private secretary to John Jay, then the U.S. Minister to Spain from 1779 to 1782.

After the war, Livingston read law and was admitted to the bar in 1783. He was in private practice in New York City from 1783 to 1802.

At one time is was part of team of three lawyers in a murder defense that also included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Henry Brockholst Livingston

From 1802 to 1807, Livingston served as a justice of the Supreme Court of New York. Two years later, on November 10, 1806 – this day in history – Livingston received a recess appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States from Thomas Jefferson, to a seat vacated by Associate Justice William Paterson. Paterson died in 1806 from injuries suffered in a coach accident.

Livingston was formally nominated on December 15, 1806, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 17, 1806. He served on the Supreme Court from then until his death in 1823.

As Joel Richard Paul writes in Without Precedent: John Marshall and His Times, p. 298:

Republicans assumed he [Livingston] would be a tough opponent for Marshall, but his warm, open personality mirrored Marshall’s own affability. The two got along famously, and over his long tenure, Livingston dissented from Marshall’s opinions only eight times out of more than four hundred cases.”

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