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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court


  • Born: March 8, 1841, Boston, Mass. 
  • Educated: Harvard College, A.B., 1861; LL.B., 1866 
  • Married: June 17, 1872, Fanny Bowdich Dixwell 
  • Nominated: Dec. 2, 1902, by President Theodore Roosevelt 
  • Commissioned: Dec. 4, 1902 
  • Dates of Service: Dec. 8, 1902 to Jan. 12, 1932 
  • Died: March 6, 1935, Washington, D.C.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was named after his father who was a poet, essayist, novelist, and professor of anatomy. Young Holmes received his undergraduate education at Harvard, graduating as class poet in 1861. He served as an officer in the Massachusetts Twentieth Volunteers during the Civil War, and then returned to Harvard to study law. He was a practicing attorney in Boston for 15 years while teaching law at his alma mater. In 1881, a series of lectures prepared by Holmes was published in a volume titled The Common Law.

In 1882, Holmes was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He remained on the state Court for 20 years, serving the last three as chief justice. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated him for the Supreme Court of the United States. After 29 years of service on the bench, Justice Holmes retired at the age of 90, making him the oldest justice to have served on the Supreme Court of the United States.