Silas Woodruff Sanderson
|7th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court|
January 2, 1864 - January 1866
|Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court|
January 1866 - January 4, 1870
|Elections under 1862 amendment to California constitution and 1863 enabling law|
|Born||April 16, 1824|
Sandgate, Vermont, U.S.
|Died||June 24, 1886 (aged 62)|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Margaret Beatty Ormsby (m. 1858)
|Alma mater||Williams College|
Silas Woodruff Sanderson (April 16, 1824 – June 24, 1886) was the seventh Chief Justice of California.
Born in Sandgate, Vermont, Sanderson attended Burr Seminary, Williams College, and Union College, graduating from the last in 1846; he was soon admitted to the bar in New York state. He then moved to Florida where he went into practice with his older brother, John, in Jacksonville. In December 1847, Sanderson was named assistant secretary to the president of the Florida Senate. In August 1850, he visited Washington, D.C. Later in 1850, he sailed to California via the Strait of Magellan and settled in Coloma.
As a Democrat, Sanderson was elected district attorney in El Dorado County. In June 1861, during the American Civil War, he spoke against the secessionist sentiment at the Breckenridge Democratic Party convention. He became a Republican and backed Leland Stanford for Governor of California in the November 1861 election, serving on a committee to organize the inaugural ball. In November 1862, Sanderson ran on the Union branch of the Democratic Party ticket and was elected to the California State Assembly from El Dorado.
The following year, under a constitutional amendment reorganizing the courts, all of the seats of the Supreme Court of California were open for election. In June 1863, Sanderson was nominated by the Republicans. In October 1863, he was elected, and by the drawing of lots among the new justices he received the short, two-year term. Under the rules of the court, the justice with the shortest term served as Chief Justice, and so he held the position from January 2, 1864, to January 1866, when his term expired. In November 1865, he beat Democrat H. H. Hartley, and was re-elected to the Court as an Associate Justice, serving from January 1866 to January 4, 1870.
Sanderson died June 24, 1886, at his home in San Francisco.
On March 3, 1858, Sanderson married Margaret Beatty Ormsby (c. 1839 – October 21, 1913) of Sacramento, California. They had four daughters, including Sibyl Sanderson, a notable operatic soprano.
Silas W. Sanderson, a native of Sunderland and a graduate of the old Burr Seminary
S. W. Sanderson, Fla.
A minority report was submitted by S. W. Sanderson
S. W. Sanderson was nominated for Assembly.
Under the constitutional provision, on October 21, 1863, Oscar L. Shafter, Lorenzo Sawyer, Silas W. Sanderson, John Curry and A. L. Rhodes were elected Supreme Court Justices. The new court organized January 2, 1864, and in accordance with law, the Judges drew lots to determine the tenure of their official terms, with the following result: Shafter drew for ten years, Rhodes for eight. Sawyer for six, Curry for four and Sanderson for two.
Silas W. Sanderson, Associate Justice
On the other hand, Sanderson, a former justice on the California Supreme Court, left the bench in 1870 to head the legal department of the corporation until his death, and never worked for another employer.
This is the place made vacant by the recent death of Judge Silas Sanderson, and is the highest position in the Law Department of the allied railroads of this coast.
In Sacramento, March 3d, at the Orleans Hotel, by the Rev. Wm. H. Hill, Silas W. Sanderson, of Placerville, to Maggie B., daughter of John S. Ormsby, of Sonoma county.