Justice Howell Edmunds Jackson

Justice Howell Edmunds Jackson joined the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 1893, replacing Justice Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. Jackson was born on April 8, 1832 in northwest Tennessee. He graduated from West Tennessee College in 1850 and attended the University of Virginia for two years. Jackson then returned to Tennessee and attended Cumberland Law School, graduating in 1856. During the Civil War, he supported the Confederacy. He received a presidential pardon in 1866 and resumed practicing law.

Jackson narrowly lost an election for a seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1878, but he was elected to the Tennessee state legislature two years later. Soon afterward, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1886. Jackson then spent seven years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to which he was appointed by Grover Cleveland.

On February 2, 1893, President Benjamin Harrison nominated Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed him on February 18, and he took the judicial oath on the same day that Cleveland was again sworn into the Presidency. Jackson spent just two years on the Court, beset by poor health for much of that time.

Jackson’s health issues led to a curious turn of events involving Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., an 1894 decision that struck down an income tax. The Supreme Court split 4-4 on the constitutionality of the tax while Jackson was absent from the Court. When the case was reheard, Jackson was a dissenter in a 5-4 decision. This suggested that one of the other Justices had changed their mind since the first hearing, although their identity remains a mystery. Jackson’s vigorous dissent proved prescient, since the Sixteenth Amendment eventually superseded Pollock and authorized an income tax.

Jackson died on August 8, 1895 in Nashville, Tennessee and was buried there. Justice Rufus Wheeler Peckham replaced him on the Supreme Court.