Ellsworth, Oliver

Ellsworth, Oliver
born April 29, 1745, Windsor, Conn.
died Nov. 26, 1807, Windsor

U.S. politician, diplomat, and jurist.

He served in the Continental Congress (1777–83) and coauthored the Connecticut Compromise (1787), which resolved the issue of representation in Congress. In 1789 he became one of Connecticut's first U.S. senators. He was the chief author of the Judiciary Act (1789), which established the federal court system. He was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1796; ill health forced his resignation in 1800.

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▪ chief justice of United States
born April 29, 1745, Windsor, Connecticut [U.S.]
died November 26, 1807, Windsor
 American statesman and jurist, chief author of the 1789 act establishing the U.S. federal court system. He was the third chief justice of the United States.

      Ellsworth attended Yale and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), graduating from the latter in 1766. After pursuing theological and legal studies, he was admitted to the bar in Hartford, which he represented in the Connecticut General Assembly. He was subsequently state's attorney for Hartford county (1777), a member of the Continental Congress (1777–83) and of the Governor's Council of Connecticut (1780–85), and a judge on the state superior court (1785–89).

      In 1787 Ellsworth, together with Roger Sherman (Sherman, Roger) and William Samuel Johnson, represented Connecticut at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, serving as a member of the important committee on detail. At the convention, he proposed with Sherman the decisive “Connecticut compromise,” by which the federal legislature was made to consist of two houses, the upper having equal representation from each state, the lower being chosen on the basis of population. This bargain is a keystone of the U.S. federal system. To secure Southern support for the Constitution, Ellsworth supported free international trade in slaves. He also vigorously defended the Constitution at the Connecticut ratifying convention. His "Letters to a Landholder," printed in the Connecticut Courant and the American Mercury, had a broad influence during the ratification debates, much as the Federalist papers did in New York.

      In 1789 Ellsworth became one of Connecticut's first U.S. senators and the acknowledged Federalist leader in the U.S. Senate. He reported the first Senate rules and suggested a plan for printing the journals, shaped the conference report on the Bill of Rights, framed the measure of admission for North Carolina, helped devise the government of the territory south of the Ohio River, and drafted the first bill regulating the consular service. He was chairman of the committee to establish the federal court system and the chief author of the Federal Judiciary Act of 1789, the principal basis ever since of the U.S. court structure.

      In 1796 President George Washington appointed him chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, after John Rutledge (Rutledge, John) had failed to receive Senate confirmation and William Cushing (Cushing, William), the senior associate justice, had declined. Ellsworth's service on the high court was cut short in 1800 by ill health. In the 1790s Supreme Court justices also served in the circuit courts, and some of Ellsworth's most important decisions were given on circuit. His most controversial opinion was United States v. Isaac Williams (1799), which applied in the United States the common-law rule that a citizen may not expatriate himself without the consent of his government.

      In 1799 he accepted President John Adams (Adams, John)'s request to join William Vans Murray and William R. Davie as commissioners to France to negotiate a new treaty. In October 1800 Ellsworth persuaded Napoleon (Napoleon I) to accept a compromise convention that provided for freedom of commerce between the two nations and in effect concluded the undeclared war between the United States and France.

      From France he sent his resignation as chief justice. Until his death in 1807, he lived in Windsor, Connecticut. Though his career included few acts of genius and little public acclaim, Ellsworth's political skill, balanced judgment, and clarity of purpose entitle him to recognition as a founder of the highest stature.

John F. Kennedy

      Ellsworth lacked the intellectual brilliance of some of his contemporaries, but, in the arena of practical politics, none of the founders was superior to—and perhaps none even equaled—him in the pragmatic art of effectively wielding power in legislative assemblies. In particular, Ellsworth had an extraordinary ability to fashion workable compromises. He had a clear, sophisticated, and detailed political philosophy and psychology, but he was not a member of the secular Enlightenment. Instead, he was a strict Calvinist who claimed that, as a young man, he had personally experienced his election by God for salvation. His entire personal and public life was ordered by a rigorous Calvinism founded upon a belief in absolute predestination. He firmly believed that everything he did was part of God's plan for mankind. In the political realm, he enthusiastically embraced compromise as long as he was convinced of the overall righteousness of a particular project.

      Like all Connecticut Calvinists, Ellsworth firmly opposed slavery on religious grounds. Because he had an abiding faith that, as part of God's plan, slavery inevitably would wither away, he had no qualms about firmly supporting the Southern states' right to import slaves in order to gain Southern support for the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention.

      By the time of his mission to France in 1800, he had reluctantly concluded that the federal government was unworkable. He cherished order, but the emergence of Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Thomas)'s Republican Party and rifts within Ellsworth's Federalist Party presaged disorder and even chaos. Ellsworth resigned from the national government and returned to Connecticut, where he was an active participant in state politics for the rest of his life.

William R. Casto

Additional Reading
The only full-scale biography is William Garrott Brown, The Life of Oliver Ellsworth (1905). R. Lettieri, Connecticut's Young Man of Revolution: Oliver Ellsworth (1978), is helpful in understanding Ellsworth's early career. Gulian Verplanck, “Biographical Sketch of Chief Justice Ellsworth,” Analectic Magazine, 3:382–403 (1814), is a useful sketch by an acquaintance of Ellsworth's. Two good modern articles are William R. Casto, “Oliver Ellsworth's Calvinism: A Biographical Essay on Religion and Political Psychology in the Early Republic,” Journal of Church and State, 35:507–525 (1994), and “I Have Sought the Felicity and Glory of Your Administration,” Journal of Supreme Court History, 2:73–90 (1996). Ellsworth's service in the first federal Congress is chronicled in Charlene Bangs Bickford et al. (eds.), Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States (1972– ). Ellsworth's service on the Supreme Court is described in William R. Casto, The Supreme Court in the Early Republic (1995); and in Maeva Marcus et al. (eds.), Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800 (1985).William R. Casto

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Universalium. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • Ellsworth,Oliver — Ellsworth, Oliver. 1745 1807. American jurist and politician. A U.S. senator from Connecticut (1789 1796), he worked on the legislation that created the federal court system (1789) and later served as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court… …   Universalium

  • Ellsworth, Oliver — (29 abr. 1745, Windsor, Conn., EE.UU.–26 nov. 1807, Windsor). Político, diplomático y jurista estadounidense. Se desempeñó en el Congreso continental (1777–83) y fue coautor del compromiso de Connecticut (1787), que resolvió el tema de la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oliver Ellsworth — 3rd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States In office March 4, 1796 – September 30, 1800[1 …   Wikipedia

  • Oliver Ellsworth — (* 29. April 1745 in Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut; † 26. November 1807 ebenda) war ein amerikanischer Jurist und Politiker. Er kämpfte im amerikanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg gegen die Briten, war einer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Oliver — Oliver, Joan Oliver, Joe Oliver, Miguel de los Santos * * * (as used in expressions) Cromwell, Oliver Davis, Benjamin O(liver), Jr. Ellsworth, Oliver Evans, Oliver Goldsmith …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oliver Ellsworth — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Ellsworth. Oliver Ellsworth Oliver Ellsworth (29 avril 1745 26  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ellsworth — /elz werrth/, n. 1. Lincoln, 1880 1951, U.S. polar explorer. 2. Oliver, 1745 1807, U.S. jurist and statesman: Chief Justice of the U.S. 1796 1800. 3. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Ellsworth Oliver LeRoy Ellsworth Harris Kelly… …   Universalium

  • Oliver — /ol euh veuhr/, n. 1. one of the 12 paladins of Charlemagne. Cf. Roland. 2. Joseph ( King ), 1885? 1938, U.S. cornet player, bandleader, and composer: pioneer in jazz. 3. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Cromwell Oliver Davis… …   Universalium

  • Ellsworth — (as used in expressions) Ellsworth, Oliver LeRoy Ellsworth Harris Kelly, Ellsworth …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oliver Ellsworth Homestead — U.S. National Register of Historic Places U.S. National Historic Landmark …   Wikipedia

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