Rutledge, John (1739–1800)

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RUTLEDGE, JOHN (1739–1800)

John Rutledge, a wealthy lawyer, represented South Carolina in the stamp act Congress (1765) and chaired that state's delegations to the First and Second Continental Congresses. He was a member of the committee that drafted the South Carolina Constitution (1776) and was elected the state's first president (1776–1778) and second governor (1779). He led his state's delegation to the constitutional convention of 1787, where he used his oratorical skill to advance a moderate states ' rights position and to defend the interests of the southern slaveholding aristocracy. He opposed creation of a separate federal judiciary, but favored a provision making the federal Constitution and laws binding on state courts. After signing the Constitution, he served as a member of the South Carolina ratifying convention.

In 1789, President george washington appointed Rutledge one of the original associate justices of the Supreme Court, but he resigned in 1791—having done only circuit duty—to become Chief Justice of South Carolina. In 1795, Washington appointed him Chief Justice of the United States, and he presided over the August 1795 term of the Court; but an intemperate speech against jay ' s treaty alienated the Federalists, and the Senate refused to confirm his nomination.

(See supreme court, 1789–1801.)

Dennis J. Mahoney