William Matthews Merrick
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William Matthews Merrick
William Matthews Merrick
William Matthews Merrick (Maryland Congressman).jpg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia

May 1, 1885 - February 4, 1889
Grover Cleveland
Andrew Wylie
Andrew Coyle Bradley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th district

March 4, 1871 - March 3, 1873
Frederick Stone
William Albert
Judge of the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia

December 14, 1855 - March 3, 1863
Franklin Pierce
James Dunlop
Seat abolished
Personal details
Born
William Matthews Merrick

(1818-09-01)September 1, 1818
Faulkner, Maryland
DiedFebruary 4, 1889(1889-02-04) (aged 70)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyDemocratic
RelationsCharles A. Wickliffe
FatherWilliam Duhurst Merrick
RelativesRichard T. Merrick
William Matthews
EducationGeorgetown University
University of Virginia
read law

William Matthews Merrick (September 1, 1818 - February 4, 1889) was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, a United States Representative from Maryland and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.

Education and career

Born on September 1, 1818, near Faulkner, Charles County, Maryland,[1] Merrick graduated from Georgetown University in 1831, studied law at the University of Virginia, then read law in 1839.[1] He was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Baltimore, Maryland from 1839 to 1844.[1] He continued private practice in Frederick, Maryland from 1844 to 1854.[1] He was deputy attorney general for Frederick County, Maryland from 1845 to 1859.[1] He resumed private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1854 to 1855.[1]

Circuit Court service

Merrick was nominated by President Franklin Pierce on December 14, 1855, to a seat on the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia vacated by Judge James Dunlop.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1855, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on March 3, 1863, due to abolition of the court.[1]

Civil War and removal from office

While a circuit judge, Merrick is best known for his role in the case of United States ex rel. Murphy v. Porter during the American Civil War, when he was placed under house arrest by General Andrew Porter in relation to a writ for habeas corpus concerning a soldier stationed in Washington, D.C.[] During the affair, President Abraham Lincoln also ordered Secretary of State William H. Seward to suspend Merrick's salary.[] Merrick was released from house arrest in December.[] His name came up in discussions by the United States Senate over whether to abolish the D.C. Circuit Court, opponents of the bill claiming that it was a stratagem to turn Merrick and his fellow judges out of office.[2] Senator Henry Wilson claimed that Merrick's heart "sweltered with treason" and that his house had become a hotbed of pro-secessionist sympathizers.[3][4]

Later career

Merrick resumed private practice in Howard County, Maryland from 1863 to 1870.[1] He was a senior Professor of Law for Columbian College (now George Washington University in Washington, D.C. from 1866 to 1867.[1] He was a delegate to the Maryland state constitutional convention in 1867.[5] He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1870.[1]

Congressional service

Merrick was elected as a Democrat from Maryland's 5th congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 42nd United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1871, to March 3, 1873.[5] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the 43rd United States Congress in 1872.[5] After his departure from Congress, Merrick resumed private practice in Howard County from 1873 to 1886.[1]

Supreme Court of the District of Columbia service

Merrick received a recess appointment from President Grover Cleveland on May 1, 1885, to an Associate Justice seat on the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (now the United States District Court for the District of Columbia) vacated by Associate Justice Andrew Wylie.[1] He was nominated to the same position by President Cleveland on December 14, 1885.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 30, 1886, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on February 4, 1889, due to his death in Washington, D.C.[1] He was initially interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. and re-interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.[5]

Family

Merrick was the son of William Duhurst Merrick, a United States Senator from Maryland.[5] His uncle, William Matthews, was the President of Georgetown College.[6] In 1849, Merrick married Mary Wickliffe, the daughter of Charles A. Wickliffe.[]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q William Matthews Merrick at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ Congressional Globe, Thirty-Seventh Congress, Third Session (1862-63), pp. 1049-52, 1128-30, 1135-40.
  3. ^ Congressional Globe, Thirty-Seventh Congress, Third Session (1862-63), p. 1139.
  4. ^ White, Jonathan W. (2007). "Sweltering with Treason: The Civil War Trials of William Matthew Merrick". Prologue Magazine. 39 (2).
  5. ^ a b c d e United States Congress. "William Matthews Merrick (id: M000655)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  6. ^ Shea, John Gilmary (1891). Memorial of the First Century of Georgetown College, D.C.: Comprising a History of Georgetown University. pp. 36-37 – via Library of the University of California.

Sources

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frederick Stone

1871-1873
Succeeded by
William Albert
Legal offices
Preceded by
James Dunlop

1855-1863
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Preceded by
Andrew Wylie

1885-1889
Succeeded by
Andrew Coyle Bradley

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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