Odd historical fact: Shortest term on the Supreme Court

Who served the shortest term as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court?

There is a clue in this famous cartoon by Thomas Nast (okay — the cartoon really gives it away, doesn’t it?):

Thomas Nast cartoon,

Watch for the answer in a future post.

Image: Thomas Nast cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, January 15, 1870. Nast’s use in cartoons greatly popularized the use of a donkey as a symbol of the Democratic Party, whose official animal mascot is a rooster. Image in public domain, this one from the Thomas Nast Portfolio of The Ohio State University.

3 Responses to Odd historical fact: Shortest term on the Supreme Court

  1. […] I posed a question about who served the shortest term on the Supreme Court. […]


  2. Ray says:

    Hi Ed,

    Actually according the The Supreme Court itself, Edwin M. Stanton was not an official member of the Supreme Court. He died before he could fulfill the necessary steps toward becoming a Member of the Court. Here is a link to the PDF from the Supreme Court web site: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/members.pdf

    You will see on the PDF that Stanton is not listed as a Justice, but is covered in the notes section at the bottom of the PDF.

    The member of the Supreme Court who actually sat on the court and is recognized as a member was Thomas Johnson of Maryland. He was appointed by Washington and served from August 6, 1792, to January 16, 1793 for a total time of 5 months 10 days.



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