Melville Weston Fuller
Born: 23 Dec 1805, Sharon, VT
8th Chief Justice of the United States
|Fuller was born in Augusta, Maine . Both his maternal grandfather, Nathan Weston and paternal grandfather, Henry Weld Fuller were judges. His father was a well-known lawyer. His parents divorced shortly after his birth, and he was raised by Nathan Weston. He attended college at Harvard University for one year before graduating from Bowdoin College in 1853. He then spent six months at Harvard Law School , leaving without graduating in 1855 .
He then studied law under the direction of an uncle. In 1855, he went into partnership with another uncle. He also became the editor of The Age, a leading Democratic newspaper in Maine . Soon he tired of Maine and moved to Chicago . In 1860, he managed Democrat Stephen Douglas ' campaign for the Presidency of the United States
He was a minor figure in Illinois politics. He spent one term in the Illinois House of Representatives and was a delegate at the national Democratic Conventions of 1864, 1872, 1876, and 1880. In 1876, he made the nominating speech for Thomas Hendricks for the Democratic electoral vote for President. After his inauguration as President, Grover Cleveland tried to make Fuller chairman of the Civil Service Commission, but he declined. President Grover Cleveland tried to persuade Fuller to be Solicitor General of the United States , but Fuller turned down the second offer for a government job.
President Grover Cleveland nominated him for the Chief Justice position when Morrison Waite died in 1888. Fuller was not the first man to be mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee; the former ambassador to Great Britain, Edward J. Phelps, was perceived as the front-runner for the nomination. Fuller's nomination was tepidly received in the Senate. However, he was eventually confirmed by a vote of 41 to 20, with nine Republicans voting with the Democrats to confirm him.
In 1893, he turned down an offer from President-Elect Grover Cleveland to serve as Secretary of State ; it was the third time he turned down a government job offer from Cleveland.
As Chief Justice, he administered the oath of office to five Presidents (Benjamin Harrison , Grover Cleveland, William McKinley , Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft )
He was said to closely resemble Mark Twain . Once, when the humorist was stopped on the street, a passerby demanded the Chief Justice's autograph. Twain supposedly wrote:
It is delicious to be full, but it is heavenly to be Fuller. I am cordially yours, Melville W. Fuller.
He was married twice. He married Calista Reynolds in 1858; she died in 1864. He married Mary Coolbaugh in 1866. He had six daughters.