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Charles Evans Hughes Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was a lawyer and Republican politician from the State of New York. He served as Governor of New York (1907-1910), United States Secretary of State (1921-1925), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1910-1916) and Chief Justice of the United States (1930-1941). He was the Republican candidate in the 1916 U.S. Presidential election, losing to Woodrow Wilson.

After attending Madison College (now Colgate Universitymarker), Hughes graduated from Brown Universitymarker, Phi Beta Kappa in 1881 and taught school to earn money for law school. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1884 and entered law practice. A high-profile case in which he uncovered corruption in the New York State utility industry positioned him to win elected office in 1906; he defeated William Randolph Hearst to become Governor of New York. Hughes was offered the vice-presidential nomination in 1908 by William Howard Taft but declined. In October 1910, Hughes was appointed by Taft as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Hughes resigned from the Supreme Court on June 16, 1916 to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States in the U.S. presidential election, 1916; after losing the election he returned to the practice of law, and he re-entered government service as United States Secretary of State under President Harding.

Herbert Hoover, who had appointed Hughes' son as the Solicitor General in 1929, appointed Hughes as the Chief Justice of the United States in 1930, in which capacity he served until 1941. On August 27, 1948, Hughes died in Ostervillemarker, Massachusettsmarker. His New York Citymarker law firm is now known as Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

Early life

Hughes was born in Glens Falls, New Yorkmarker. In 1859, his family moved to New York Citymarker, where his mother enrolled him in a private school. His great grandfather was a Methodist preacher from Buffalomarker, who became a Christian following his arrival in Japan, and Charles followed the Christian religion.

Hughes went to Madison University (now Colgate Universitymarker) where he became a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity, then transferred to Brown Universitymarker, where he continued as a member of Delta Upsilon and graduated in 1881 at age 19, youngest in his class, receiving second-highest honors. For the next two years he worked at Stevens Institute Academy in Davenport, Floridamarker, where he taught the Japanese language, Latin, and Calculus in order to earn money for law school. He entered Columbia Law School in 1882, and he graduated in 1884 with highest honors.

In 1885, he met Antoinette Carter, the daughter of a senior partner of the law firm where he worked, and the were married in 1888. They had one son, Charles Evans Hughes, Jr. and two daughters, one of whom was Elizabeth Hughes Gossett, one of the first humans injected with insulin, and who later served as president of the Supreme Court Historical Society.

In 1891, Hughes left the practice of law to become a professor at the Cornell University Law School, but in 1893 he returned to his old law firm in New York City. At that time, in addition to practicing law he taught at New York Law Schoolmarker with Woodrow Wilson. In 1905, he was appointed as counsel to a New Yorkmarker state legislative committee investigating utility rates. His uncovering of corruption led to lower gas rates in New York City. As a result, he was appointed to investigate the insurance industry in New York

Governor of New York

Governor Charles Evans Hughes
Hughes served as the Governor of New York from 1907 to 1910. He defeated William Randolph Hearst in the 1906 election to gain the position, and he was the only Republican statewide candidate to win office. In 1908, he was offered the vice-presidential nomination by William Howard Taft, but he declined it to run again for Governor.

As Governor, he pushed the passage of the Moreland Act, which gave him the power as governor to oversee civic officials as well as officials in state bureaucracies. This allowed him to fire many corrupt officials. He also managed to have the powers of the state's Public Service Commissions increased, and he attempted unsuccessfully to have their decisions exempted from judicial review. When two bills were passed to reduce railroad fares, Hughes vetoed them on that grounds that the rates should be set by expert commissioners rather than by elected ones. In his final year as the Governor, he had the state comptroller draw up an executive budget. This began a rationalization of state government and eventually it led to an enhancement of executive authority.

When Hughes left office, a prominent journal remarked "One can distinctly see the coming of a New Statism ... [of which] Gov. Hughes has been a leading prophet and exponent".

In 1909, he led an effort to incorporate Delta Upsilon fraternity. This was the first fraternity to incorporate, and he served as its first international president.

In 1926, Hughes was appointed by Governor Alfred E. Smith to be the chairman of a State Reorganization Commission through which Smith's plan to place the Governor as the head of a rationalized state government, was accomplished, bringing to realization what Hughes himself had envisioned.

Supreme Court

In October 1910, Hughes was appointed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He wrote for the court in Bailey v. Alabama , which held that involuntary servitude encompassed more than just slavery, and Interstate Commerce Comm. v. Atchison T & SF R Co. , holding that the Interstate Commerce Commission could regulate intrastate rates if they were significantly intertwined with interstate commerce.

Presidential candidate

He resigned from the Supreme Court on June 10, 1916, to be the Republican candidate for President in 1916. He was also endorsed by the Progressive Party. Hughes was defeated by Woodrow Wilson in a close election (separated by 23 electoral votes and 594,188 popular votes). The election hinged on Californiamarker, where Wilson managed to win by 3,800 votes and its 13 electoral votes and thus Wilson was returned for a second term.

Hughes returned to private law practice, again at his old firm, Hughes, Rounds, Schurman & Dwight, today known as Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

Secretary of State

Hughes returned to government office in 1921 as Secretary of State under President Harding. As Secretary of State, in 1921 he convened the Washington Naval Conference for the limitation of naval armament among the Great Powers. He continued in office after Harding died and was succeeded by Coolidge, but resigned after Coolidge was elected to a full term. In 1922, September 23, he signed the Hughes - Peynado agreement, that ended the occupation of Dominican Republicmarker by the United Statesmarker (since 1916).

Various appointments

In 1907, Gov. Charles Evans Hughes became the first president of newly formed Northern Baptist Convention.

After leaving the State Departmentmarker, he again rejoined his old partners at the Hughes firm, which included his son and future United States Solicitor General Charles E. Hughes, Jr., and was one of the nation's most sought-after advocates. From 1925 to 1930, for example, Hughes argued over 50 times before the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1926 to 1930, Hughes also served as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and as a judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Haguemarker, The Netherlandsmarker from 1928 to 1930. He was additionally a delegate to the Pan American Conference on Arbitration and Conciliation from 1928 to 1930. He was one of the co-founders in 1927 of the National Conference on Christians and Jews, now known as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), along with S. Parkes Cadman and others, to oppose the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Semitism in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1928 conservative business interests tried to interest Hughes in the GOP presidential nomination of 1928 instead of Herbert Hoover. Hughes, citing his age, turned down the offer.

Chief Justice

Hughes' residence in 1921
Herbert Hoover, who had appointed Hughes' son as Solicitor General in 1929, appointed Hughes Chief Justice of the United States in 1930, in which capacity he served until 1941. Hughes replaced former President William Howard Taft, a fellow Republican who had also lost a presidential election to Woodrow Wilson (in 1912).

His appointment was opposed by progressive elements in both parties who felt that he was too friendly to big business. Idaho Republican William E. Borah said on the United States Senate floor that confirming Hughes would constitute "placing upon the Court as Chief Justice one whose views are known upon these vital and important questions and whose views, in my opinion, however sincerely entertained, are not which ought to be incorporated in and made a permanent part of our legal and economic system." Nonetheless Hughes was confirmed as Chief Justice with a vote of 52 to 26.

As Chief Justice, he led the fight against Franklin D. Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court. He wrote the opinion for the Court in Near v. Minnesota , which held prior restraints against the press are unconstitutional. He was often aligned with Justices Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo in finding President Roosevelt's New Deal measures to be Constitutional. Although he wrote the opinion invalidating the National Recovery Administration in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , he wrote the opinions for the Court in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. , NLRB v. Friedman-Harry Marks Clothing Co., , and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish which looked favorably on New Deal measures.

Later life

many years, he was a member of the Union League Club of New York and served as its president from 1917 to 1919. The Hughes Room in the club is named for him.

On August 27, 1948, Hughes died in Ostervillemarker, Massachusettsmarker. He was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemeterymarker in Bronx, New York.


See also


  1. PBK Supreme Court Justices, accessed Oct 6, 2009
  2. Elizabeth Hughes: Fifty-eight years on animal-insulin
  3. Nation quoted in Samuel Hendel, Charles Evans Hughes and the Supreme Court (New York: King's Crown Press, 1951), 15, quoted at The History Cooperative
  4. Supreme Court of the United States Accessed December 13, 2007.
  5. Eisler, a Justice for All, page 39, ISBN 0-671-76787-9
  6. Wittes, Benjamin. Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times (Rowman & Littlefield 2006). page 50

Further reading

  • The Recall of Justice Hughes
  • Abraham, Henry J., Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court. 3d. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). ISBN 0-19-506557-3.
  • Cushman, Clare, The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies,1789-1995 (2nd ed.) (Supreme Court Historical Society), (Congressional Quarterly Books, 2001) ISBN 1568021267; ISBN 9781568021263.
  • Frank, John P., The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions (Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel, editors) (Chelsea House Publishers, 1995) ISBN 0791013774, ISBN 978-0791013779.
  • Glad, Betty, Charles Evans Hughes and the illusions of innocence: A study in American diplomacy (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1966).
  • Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0195058356; ISBN 9780195058352.
  • Martin, Fenton S. and Goehlert, Robert U., The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography, (Congressional Quarterly Books, 1990). ISBN 0871875543.
  • Perkins, Dexter, Charles Evans Hughes and American democratic statesmanship (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956).
  • Pusey, Merlo J., Charles Evans Hughes, 2 vol. (New York: Macmillan, 1951).
  • Ross, William G., The Chief Justiceship of Charles Evans Hughes, 1930-1941 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2007) ISBN 1570036799, ISBN 978-1570036799.
  • Urofsky, Melvin I., The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Garland Publishing 1994). 590 pp. ISBN 0815311761; ISBN 978-0815311768.
  • Wesser, Robert F., Charles Evans Hughes: Politics and reform in New York, 1905-1910 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967).

External links


Legal opinions as Chief Justice


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