Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr Popular Books

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr Biography & Facts

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932. Holmes is one of the most widely cited and influential Supreme Court justices in American history, noted for his long tenure on the Court and for his pithy opinions—particularly those on civil liberties and American constitutional democracy—and deference to the decisions of elected legislatures. Holmes retired from the Court at the age of 90, an unbeaten record for oldest justice on the Supreme Court. He previously served as a Brevet Colonel in the American Civil War, in which he was wounded three times, as an associate justice and chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and as Weld Professor of Law at his alma mater, Harvard Law School. His positions, distinctive personality, and writing style made him a popular figure, especially with American progressives. During his tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court, to which he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, he supported the constitutionality of state economic regulation and came to advocate broad freedom of speech under the First Amendment, after, in Schenck v. United States (1919), having upheld for a unanimous court criminal sanctions against draft protestors with the memorable maxim that "free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" and formulating the groundbreaking "clear and present danger" test. Later that same year, in his famous dissent in Abrams v. United States (1919), he wrote that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market ... That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment." He added that "we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death...." He was one of only a handful of justices known as a scholar; The Journal of Legal Studies has identified Holmes as the third-most-cited American legal scholar of the 20th century. Holmes was a legal realist, as summed up in his maxim, "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience", a moral skeptic, and was opposed to the doctrine of natural law. His jurisprudence and academic writing influenced much subsequent American legal thinking, including the judicial consensus upholding New Deal regulatory law and the influential American schools of pragmatism, critical legal studies, and law and economics. Early life Holmes was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to the prominent writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and Amelia Lee Jackson Holmes. Both his parents were of English descent, and all his ancestors had come to North America from England during the early colonial period as part of the Puritan migration to New England. His mother opposed slavery and fulfilled her domestic role as traditionally understood. Dr. Holmes was a leading figure in Boston intellectual and literary circles. Mrs. Holmes was connected to the leading families; Henry James Sr., Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other transcendentalists were family friends. Known as "Wendell" in his youth, Holmes became lifelong friends with the brothers William James and Henry James Jr. Holmes accordingly grew up in an atmosphere of intellectual achievement and early on formed the ambition to be a man of letters like Emerson. He retained an interest in writing poetry throughout his life. While still in Harvard College he wrote essays on philosophic themes and asked Emerson to read his attack on Plato's idealist philosophy. Emerson famously replied, "If you strike at a king, you must kill him." He supported the abolitionist movement that thrived in Boston society during the 1850s. At Harvard, he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, the Hasty Pudding and the Porcellian Club; his father had also been a member of both clubs. In the Pudding, he served as Secretary and Poet, as had his father. Holmes graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1861, and, in the spring of that year, after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers following the firing on Fort Sumter, he enlisted in the Massachusetts militia but returned briefly to Harvard College to participate in commencement exercises. Civil War During his senior year of college, at the outset of the American Civil War, Holmes enlisted in the Fourth Battalion of Infantry in the Massachusetts militia, then in July 1861, with his father's help, received a commission as second lieutenant in the Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He saw considerable combat during his service, taking part in the Peninsula Campaign, and the Wilderness, suffering wounds at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Chancellorsville, and suffered from a near-fatal case of dysentery. He particularly admired and was close to Henry Livermore Abbott, a fellow officer in the 20th Massachusetts. Holmes rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, but eschewed command of his regiment upon his promotion. Abbott took command of the regiment in his place and was later killed. In September 1863, while recovering at the Holmes family home on Charles Street in Boston from his third major combat injury, Holmes was promoted to colonel, but he never returned to the 20th Massachusetts because the unit had been largely destroyed. Upon his recovery, in January 1864 Holmes was appointed aide-de-camp of General Horatio Wright, then Division Commander of VI Corps, and later in command of the Corps. Holmes served with Wright during General Grant's campaign down to Petersburg, returning to Washington with the Sixth Corps when the Capital was threatened in July 1864. On July 17, 1864, Holmes was mustered out at the end of his enlistment term, returning to Boston and enrolling at Harvard Law School later that year. Holmes is said to have shouted to Abraham Lincoln to take cover during the Battle of Fort Stevens, although this is commonly regarded as apocryphal. Holmes himself expressed uncertainty about who had warned Lincoln ("Some say it was an enlisted man who shouted at Lincoln; others suggest it was General Wright who brusquely ordered Lincoln to safety. But for a certainty, the 6 foot 4 inch Lincoln, in frock coat and top hat, stood peering through field glasses from behind a parapet at the onrushing rebels.") and other sources state he likely was not present on the day Lincoln visited Fort Stevens. Legal career Lawyer In the summer of 1864, Holmes returned to the family home in Boston, wrote poetry, and debated philosophy with his friend William James, pursuing his debate with philosophic idealism, and considered re-enlisting. By the fall, when it became clear that the war would soon end, Holmes enrolled in Harvard Law School, "kicked into the law" by his father, as he later recalled. He attended lectures there for a sin.... Discover the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr books.

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  • The Essential Holmes synopsis, comments

    The Essential Holmes

    Oliver Wendell Holmes & Richard A. Posner

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., has been called the greatest jurist and legal scholar in the history of the Englishspeaking world. In this collection of his speeches, opinions, and let...

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. synopsis, comments

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    Susan-Mary Grant

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was one of the most influential jurists of his time. From the antebellum era and the Civil War through the First World War and into the New Deal years, ...

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon synopsis, comments

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon

    Allen Mendenhall

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s dissents are influential because of their literary qualities of superfluity and energy he inherited from Emerson. The aesthetic style of his dissents re...

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. synopsis, comments

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    G. Edward White

    Known as the "Great Dissenter," Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote some of the most eloquent opinions in the history of the United States Supreme Court. A brilliant legal mind who se...

  • The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. synopsis, comments

    The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    Seth Vannatta

    This book investigates the extent to which various scholarly labels are appropriate for the work of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. As Louis Menand wrote, “Holmes has been called a form...

  • The Common Law synopsis, comments

    The Common Law

    Oliver Wendell, Jr. Holmes

    First published in 1881. According to Wikipedia: "Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supre...

  • The Path of the Law synopsis, comments

    The Path of the Law

    Oliver Wendell, Jr. Holmes

    Classic article, first published in Harvard Law Review in 1897. According to Wikipedia: "Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) was an American jurist who serv...

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism and Neuroscience synopsis, comments

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism and Neuroscience

    Jay Schulkin

    This book explores the cultures of philosophy and the law as they interact with neuroscience and biology, through the perspective of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Jr., and...

  • Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. synopsis, comments

    Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    2 works of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (18411935) This ebook presents a collection of 2 wo...

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Legal Logic synopsis, comments

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Legal Logic

    Frederic R. Kellogg

    With Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Legal Logic, Frederic R. Kellogg examines the early diaries, reading, and writings of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841–1935) to assess h...

  • Savage Peace synopsis, comments

    Savage Peace

    Ann Hagedorn

    Written with the sweep of an epic novel and grounded in extensive research into contemporary documents, Savage Peace is a striking portrait of American democracy under stress. It i...