Smith Thompson served as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1824 until his death in 1843. A prominent member of the New York bar and chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, Thompson also served as secretary of the navy during President james monroe's administration.
Thompson was born on January 17, 1768, in New York City, New York. After graduating from Princeton University in 1788, he studied law with Gilbert Livingston, a member of a politically powerful family, and james kent, a towering figure in U.S. jurisprudence. Thompson was admitted to the New York bar in 1792. When Kent left the law firm in 1795, Thompson became Livingston's partner and eventually married Livingston's daughter Sarah.
Thompson was elected to the New York legislature in 1800 and then used Livingston's political connections to obtain an appointment to
the state supreme court in 1802. He was promoted to chief justice in 1814, in which position he presided until 1818.
President Monroe appointed Thompson secretary of the navy in 1819. As head of the department, Thompson earned Monroe's trust and respect. Although he had presidential ambitions, Thompson agreed to accept Monroe's offer of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, joining the Court in 1824. In 1828, however, he returned to politics, running unsuccessfully for the governorship of New York even though he did not resign from the bench.
As a justice, Thompson believed that the states should be allowed to regulate commerce unless their laws directly conflicted with federal law. This position put him in conflict with Chief Justice john marshall and Justice joseph story, who interpreted the Constitution's commerce clause as giving the federal government the exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce. Thompson wrote the concurring opinion in the landmark case of Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. (12 Wheat.) 213, 6 L. Ed. 606 (1827), which held that any law passed after the execution of a contract, in this case a New York insolvency statute, was part of the contract. In another important case, Kendall v. United States exrel. Stokes, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 524, 9 L. Ed. 1181 (1838), Thompson supported the right of federal courts to issue a writ of mandamus to compel a cabinet officer to perform nondiscretionary, ministerial obligations.
Thompson died on December 18, 1843, in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Roper, Donald Malcolm. 1987. Mr. Justice Thompson and the Constitution. New York: Garland.
"Thompson, Smith." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thompson-smith
"Thompson, Smith." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved February 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thompson-smith
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.