Albany in the life trajectory of Robert H. Jackson.
We recall Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert
Houghwout Jackson (1892-1954) for many reasons, but certainly a leading
one is the striking contrast between his humble origins and his exalted
destinations. Jackson’s life began literally in the
a family farm in the gorgeous rural isolation of
in northwestern Pennsylvania’s
. He spent his boyhood
and obtained his basic public school education in Frewsburg, a small
town in southwestern
Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
State. While still a teenager, Jackson
spent one additional year as a high school student in nearby
, but he never received a day of college education. He prepared
to become a lawyer principally by working as an apprentice for two years
in a Jamestown law office.
From that background,
rose to make big marks–very
big marks–on the biggest stages of his time, and in history. As a young
lawyer, he became a great success in
of private practice
while also developing an identity, and some important connections, in
Democratic Party politics in New York State. Jackson moved to Washington
in 1934, joining the New Deal and becoming a true
insider and a personal confidant and favorite of the
President. (1) In ensuing years, Jackson became a leading government
lawyer of national renown, a great and very successful Supreme Court
advocate during his years as Assistant Attorney General and
and, for eighteen months beginning in January 1940,
General of the United States
In July 1941, Robert Jackson was appointed an
Associate Justice of
the Supreme Court of the United States
, where he served for thirteen
years and created a permanent legacy of independent thinking, judicial
principle and restraint, and simply gorgeous writing that was
authentically his own product.
By presidential appointment that took him away from the Supreme
Court for the full 1945-1946 year,
also served, and he
succeeded, in a legal position of unprecedented complexity and permanent
historical importance: he was chief
officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world’s third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.
prosecutor of the
major Nazi war criminals, and truly the principal architect of the
that gave birth to modern international law, at Nuremberg,
That summary of Robert H. Jackson’s amazing life journey
covers a lot of ground, but it skips Albany. In Jackson’s
biography, “Albany” means the
Albany Law School
, where he was
a student during the academic year 1911-1912. Jackson’s
“Albany” also encompasses, more broadly, his personal and
professional ties to New York State’s capital city during most of
the first half of the twentieth century, when Albany was a leading site
of American political and economic power and legal development.
In the study and appreciation of Robert H. Jackson’s life and
his enormous accomplishments, to skip Albany is to make a big mistake.
As this article describes, Albany connected with who Jackson already was
when he arrived in the capital city as an eighteen-or nineteen-year-old
law apprentice, and Albany over the ensuing years contributed directly
to the experiences and values that played major roles in all that he
ultimately did and became. As young Robert Jackson observed closely and
absorbed deeply, Albany’s constituents, including its private law
school, its governmental institutions and its people, especially its
courts, judges and lawyers, employed rational capacities in practical
efforts to address and improve individual and collective circumstances.
They embodied the human reasoning process that Jackson came to see as
the content of law itself, and that process became for him the hallmark
of the justice-seeking, self-interest restraining work to which he
dedicated his life in the legal profession. (2) Jackson’s personal
in other words
, rested on the law as he came to understand
it and began to work with it on Albany’s soil, at its law school
and in the legal environment of its state.
I. JACKSON COMES TO THE LAW
Robert Jackson knew from his early youth that he wanted to be a
lawyer. Although his family was far from wealthy, it was
self-sufficient, literate and interested in ideas. The Jacksons and
their extended family had books, including the Bible, some classics,
poetry, histories, biographies and general information. His mother and
other relatives read to young Robert, and he soon became a voracious
reader on his own. Indeed, because his rural childhood included
immersion in words, ideas, writing, reading and public speaking–in
other words, the materials and methods that came to define his
professional life–and because he took to it all quite naturally, he was
on his career path long before he understood that he was being drawn to
Jackson’s direct interest in law was shaped in part by his
father’s side of the family. (3) One important influence was his
Jackson, who was a bachelor and lived with
Jackson’s parents and him on the Spring Creek farm during
Robert’s early years at the end of the nineteenth century. Indeed,
“Uncle William,” who was in his high seventies, babysat the
boy while his parents were busy with farm work. The old man and young
boy walked together all over the sizable farm, with Uncle William
pointing out sights, teaching Robert about different kinds of trees and
telling him stories about animals and people. William M. Jackson was
knowledgeable about many topics, in part because he was a great reader.
He also had served since 1863 as Spring Creek’s commissioned
justice of the peace, and thus he was familiar with the way the law
worked in that rural community. Years later, Justice Jackson identified
his great uncle as probably the source of “the first vague ideas I
ever got about law.” (4) Young Robert also spent lots of time,
during his boyhood and as a teenager, with his grandfather
Jackson. The old man, who lived on farms in Warren County and
then just two houses from his son’s family in Frewsburg, always
subscribed to a
New York City
see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S.
newspaper, and he engaged his grandson in
regular discussions of politics and
current npl →
Jackson also learned, as a boy, that he had deep ancestral ties to
the law through his paternal grandmother and her English family, the
Eldreds. Jackson’s great-grandfather George F. Eldred, who
emigrated to the United States from London and settled in Spring Creek
in 1819, had been born literally in London’s Middle Temple, one of
the Inns of Court to which lawyers have been called to practice since at
least the fourteenth century; George’s father William Eldred was an
English lawyer and Middle Temple’s under treasurer.
In Frewsburg, Robert Jackson excelled in his school work. He also
was involved in debating and in a literary society, and he participated
in public recitations of poems, orations, dialogues and little plays.
Jackson also attended a Baptist
institution for instruction in religion and morals, usually conducted in churches as part of the church organization but sometimes maintained by other religious or philanthropic bodies.
In England during the 18th cent.
that he later described as
“something of a debating group which took up various scriptural
lessons and free speech was allowed to everybody. Matters were
questioned and answered. Considering the strictness of the denomination
it was an exceedingly liberal thinking group.” (5) He also attended
public lectures and went to hear political candidates speak–he could
hear local candidates (most of whom were lawyers) speak in Frewsburg,
but he had to, and did, travel north to Jamestown to hear candidates who
were running for statewide office. Political loyalties in the Jackson
family ran to the Democratic Party, and Robert Jackson in boyhood heard
Bryan, for example, speak in southwestern New York on
two or three occasions. Jackson enjoyed all of these experiences, and he
recognized that they were pointing him toward the working life of a
After Jackson graduated from Frewsburg High School in 1909, he
spent the next year commuting by trolley to Jamestown and attending its
high school as a post-graduate student. At
Jamestown High School
became a protege of an elderly maiden teacher, Mary R. Willard. (6)
Jackson took Miss Willard’s courses in English and English History,
and he spent many evenings with her and her sister in their home,
sharing dinner, listening to opera and other fine music on their
victrola, and reading Shakespeare, Shaw and other writers. Mary Willard
encouraged Jackson to study the law. His other key Jamestown High School
mentor was the principal, Milton J. Fletcher. (7) Jackson took his
American history course and, when no economics class was being offered,
he persuaded Mr. Fletcher to give him a private tutorial in that
subject. Fletcher also encouraged Robert Jackson to become a lawyer.
Many years later, Jackson remembered that on one occasion he found
himself with Mr. Fletcher on a street car, and that during the ride they
discussed the previous evening’s performance by a violin artist who
had earned quite a large fee. Fletcher then told his pupil, “Bob,
you study law and tend to your business, do as you can with it, and
you’ll get a $500 fee some day.” (8)
With all of that as environmental background and encouragement, the
influential lawyer who actually started Jackson on his career path was
Frank Henry Mott of Jamestown. Mott was a step-cousin of Jackson’s
mother her maternal step-grandmother, whom she had known from her very
young girlhood, was Mott’s paternal grandmother. (9) Mott was
someone who Jackson knew well as he grew up, and his year at Jamestown
High School led him to spend even more time with him, for Mott lived and
practiced law in Jamestown.
Following Jackson’s second high school graduation, Frank Mott
invited him to become an apprentice in his law office, and Jackson
accepted. He took this step notwithstanding his father William Eldred
(Will) Jackson’s very low opinion of lawyers. Will Jackson’s
friends included one or two lawyers, and he did think well of them, but
his anti-lawyer comments to Robert always focused on lawyers who were
bad examples of how to live your life. One was a young man in Frewsburg
who had studied law and then, apparently as a result, become a
Another lawyer whom Will Jackson particularly disliked was Frank
Mott. Mr. Jackson disapproved of how Mott lived–his fancy lifestyle was
well beyond his means, he borrowed money and he did not repay his debts.
Mr. Jackson knew that Mott was fond of Robert and wanted to take him
into his office, and he feared that his son would follow Mott into the
law, and into a life of
Lacking respectability, as in character, behavior, or appearance.
conduct. Will Jackson thus made it
clear to Robert that if he wanted to study law (as opposed to medicine,
which was the career path that Will was encouraging his son to pursue),
Robert would pursue it without financial help from his father.
(Robert’s mother Angelina, who of course was related to Mott by her
n. 1. A second or repeated marriage.
Noun 1. remarriage – the act of marrying again
, had a softer perspective on all of this.
For one thing, she liked Mott–as she put it, “maybe Frank did owe
people, but he was very nice to his mother.” (10) She also had a
more hands off attitude about Robert’s career path. If her son
wanted to study law, that was alright with her.)
thus became, in the fall of 1910, an apprentice
in Frank Mott’s Jamestown law office. Mott was less dedicated to
his law practice than he might have been, but he had many clients with
many problems and he involved Jackson in his work. Mott’s law
partner Benjamin Simeon Dean actually took the lead in teaching Jackson
the law. Dean was, unlike Mott, very industrious and scholarly. He also
was a disciplined, extremely gifted writer. Dean directed Jackson’s
reading of James Kent’s Commentaries, Blackstone and other
fundamental legal writings, and then he discussed with him at length the
young man’s questions and his developing ideas of what law really
is. Dean also taught Jackson legal research skills, including how to
classify legal problems and look them up in various digests,
encyclopedias and texts. Jackson began to handle some of Mott’s and
Dean’s clients’ matters, and Jackson got to try some cases in
“justice court” before magistrates who themselves often were
not lawyers. He also spent many evenings with Mott in his book-filled
house, reading, discussing politics and preparing cases for trial.
II. JACKSON COMES TO ALBANY
Robert Jackson, who grew up in
western New York
State hundreds of
miles away from its capital city, seems to have visited Albany before
his year as an Albany law student. In the first half of 1911, six to
eight months before Jackson enrolled at Albany Law School, Frank Mott
brought apprentice Jackson along on a trip to Albany. Mott at that time
was both a prominent New York State lawyer and a statewide political
figure–he was Republican Party-dominated
1. a meeting, usually held in the summer outdoors or under a temporary tent, providing public lectures combined with entertainment such as concerts and plays. It originated in the village of Chautauqua, N. Y.
Democratic Party leader although, as Jackson noted years later, it would
have been fair to ask “if you could say that a man was a leader who
had so few followers.” (11) Mott’s stops in Albany included
, and there he made a point of introducing his
legal and political protege Robert Jackson to various figures. One was
Dutchess County’s new
, Frank Roosevelt.
In 1911, Frank Roosevelt turned twenty-nine years old. He was ten
years older than Jackson. This young Democrat Roosevelt had run the
previous fall, and just barely won, a race to represent a historically
Republican district in the state senate–Roosevelt made it to the senate
on personal money, good looks, a genial personality and the politically
powerful surname of his distant cousin the former president. In early
1911, young Jackson met Roosevelt in Albany and watched him battle the
machine politicians of their party over the selection of a United States
senator. (12) Over the next thirty years, this early introduction–an
event that occurred when they truly were just “Frank” and
“Robert,” and long before all that came later was foreseeable
for either of them–developed, in part because it went so far back, into
an important personal friendship and a momentous political relationship.
That Albany visit and the political attraction of the capital were
part of what interested Jackson in the city, but his specific choice in
September 1911 was to attend Albany Law School. Why Albany Law School?
Jackson explained his school choice in the oral history that he finished
editing just days before he died in 1954:
After a year in Mott's office, I decided I ought to go to a law school, not having had any college. I considered various law schools in New York State. I decided against New York City because I didn't like the city to live in. I considered Buffalo and Syracuse, but I decided on the Albany Law School for two reasons: some of the leading lawyers of [Jamestown] had been Albany Law School men and it was the seet of government. The Court of Appeals sat there, the Appellate Division sat there, the Supreme Court, the legislature and the whole state government. I thought I would learn more that was not in the books at Albany than in any other place, and that it would be useful to me in the practice of law in my community. I borrowed the money to go through Albany Law School from John Houghwot, my mother's brother, who was a rather eccentric bachelor and a firm friend. (13)
Jackson needed to borrow his tuition money from his uncle because
his father Will Jackson was still opposed to his law studies.
Jackson’s plan to attend Albany Law School encountered other
family opposition. His maternal grandmother Parthena Gregory Houghwot,
who then was in her late 60s, had spent her whole life within
twenty-five miles of the northwestern Pennsylvania farmland of her birth
and, in Jackson’s words, she “liked it that way.” (14)
When he told her in 1911 that he was considering going to Albany to
study law, she asked him where Albany was and how far it was from her
farm in Warren County. Jackson explained that Albany was in eastern New
York State and more than 300 miles away, which led Mrs. Houghwot to
opine that she had never known any good “to come to them as go
roving around.” (15)
In September 1911, Robert Jackson moved to Albany. He and a couple
of friends from Jamestown (16) rented an apartment at 267
three-story building at the corner of
that still stands
today in the city’s now-historic Center Square neighborhood; (17)
the building today has apartments on its upper floors and, on the ground
Although Albany Law School had, since 1898, offered a two-year
course of study culminating in the degree of LL.B., (18) it admitted
Jackson to its one-year course for “law office men.” These
were the students who came to law school, as Jackson did, with the
experience of having worked as clerks to practicing lawyers for one year
or two years. (19) Albany in effect gave each of these students a year
of classroom credit for his apprenticeship work. The School then
provided, both to these students and to their classmates who had spent
the previous year (their first year, which was called the
“junior” year) in law school rather than working in a law
office, a senior year curriculum that emphasized procedure and evidence
courses and thus prepared them for the New York State bar examinations.
As Jackson and fellow law office men began law school that fall,
they knew that they were joining–in effect, they were transferring
into–a senior class that would be, nine months hence, the final Albany
Law School senior class whose members would earn law degrees based on
only two years of law study (whether that time was spent all in the
classroom or split between classroom and law office experience). The
School’s Trustees had decided, just two months earlier, to require
new students as of that September to complete three years of study to
earn law degrees (21) and, as of the following year, to require anyone
seeking to transfer into Albany with apprenticeship experience to pass a
first-year competency examination and then to spend two years in law
school. (22) In other words, the students who entered Albany Law School
in 1911 as new students (they were called sophomores, and they by
definition had no experience clerking in law offices–in modern
parlance, they were pure “1LS”) were starting the new
three-year program, and any “law office men” who did not
enroll then but waited until the next year would have to spend two full
years in school. (23)
Jackson never identified Albany’s
available-now-for-the-last-time one-year course for former law
apprentices as a reason why he chose to enroll there in September 1911,
but it seems reasonable to suspect that this factor might have
influenced a young man who was in a hurry to become a lawyer. This
factor seems to have influenced his classmates. Decades later, an Albany
Law School Dean who knew Justice Jackson well noted that he had been one
of “an unusually large number” of students who took “the
one year course” during 1911-1912, and the Dean presumed that the
longer course of study that would have been required if these students
had delayed starting law school was the explanation for the 1911
enrollment surge. (24)
When Jackson started classes at Albany Law School, it was located
at 239 to 243 State Street, across from the
New York State Capitol
building, which the School purchased from the Universalist society in
1879, originally was the Church of the Redeemer, (25) and with its peak
and an ecclesiastical front it still looked like a church. (26) But
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of:
2. In keeping with:
Jackson, at least by his law student days, “[i]ts
facade suggested a piety that was not fully sustained by the student
Jackson spent only a single academic year, September 1911 through
May 1912, completing Albany Law School’s requirements for its
two-year law degree. Years later, when Jackson had become a famous
figure, the fact that he had completed a two-year academic program in
half that time led some profile writers to state, quite
hagiographically, that Jackson had carried and completed a double load
of courses during his student year at Albany Law School. The truth is
less dramatic: Jackson carried a regular course load during his Albany
Law School year. In the fall 1911 semester, for instance, he took and
passed five courses, which seems a standard course load for a senior.
Because Albany Law School credited Jackson’s work as Mott’s
apprentice, Jackson formally, in the sense of getting academic credit,
completed two years of law school courses in his one year at Albany–and
from that ambiguous fact developed, over time, the misunderstanding that
he had taken two years’ worth of classes in his single academic
year. (Having walked the six or seven blocks between 267 Lark Street and
the former site of Albany Law School on State Street, I also can attest
that Jackson did not have to walk uphill both to and from his law school
Robert Jackson did very well in law school. His first semester
transcript shows these strong grades:
Procedure 96 Real Property 90 Bills & Notes 93 Guarantee & Suretyship 98 Equity 88
His overall average that fall was 93 and his school
attendance–thirty-three years before he missed an entire Supreme Court
Term while serving as chief United States prosecutor at Nuremberg–was
perfect. (28) We know less about Jackson’s spring 1912 grades
because neither he nor Albany Law School seems to have saved them.
Justice Jackson did state many years later that one of his Albany Law
School grades was a perfect 100 from Corporations’ Professor Frank
White. (29) Overall, according to the later Albany Law School dean who
knew Justice Jackson personally and admired him greatly, his grades were
“what would be expected”–“he was in the top 5% of his
class.” (30) When Jackson thought back on this law school success
years later, he seemed to give more credit to himself than to his
teachers: “There were no figures in the Albany Law School that
stand out particularly or that were too inspiring to me. What you
studied and what progress you made depended pretty much on
In addition to doing his course work, Jackson filled his law
student days in Albany by actually taking advantage of some of the legal
attractions that had drawn him to the city in the first place. Forty
years later, Jackson recalled that he:
watched the calendar of the New York Court of Appeals and as I had no classes in the afternoon--my classes were all in the morning--I went to the court of appeals every afternoon when there was a particularly good argument. I heard the very best of the New York state bar in their appearances before the Court of Appeals. It was a great court, and that opportunity was really one of the most important assets of the school. I did enjoy appellate work and later came to do a great deal of it. But there was not much appellate work from our city. The trial work was the thing that was important. I had hopes of someday doing appellate work, of course, and was interested in how good lawyers did it, their technique, their style of arguing cases, but I didn't expect a very large appellate practice. I did not foresee that I would one day be Solicitor General of the United States. (32)
Jackson’s academic year at Albany Law School also included
extracurricular events that he and most students
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition:
the start of the school year,
Amasa J. Parker
, the President of the
School’s Board of Trustees, described in his opening address the
tradition of legal education that began at Connecticut’s
in 1784, lasted there for fifty years and continued when
Albany Law School opened only seventeen years later, in 1851 (33)–and
Robert Jackson, as he listened in the audience, perhaps thought of his
pioneer forebear who was growing up in the Litchfield area as that first
law school began. (34)
In late January 1912, Albany Law School honored its 1867
the recently assassinated President William McKinley (1843-1901), by
hosting on his birth date a lecture by his law school roommate, Judge
George F. Arrel of
. (35) The School also hosted
lectures that year, including one by the dean of the
(36) and another by a former justice of the New York State
Supreme Court, (37) as part of a notable series named for another
alumnus who had endowed Albany Law School’s legal ethics chair.
But Robert Jackson the law student was not concerned only with
studies. During the winter of 1912, he frequently went
gliding along an ice surface on keellike runners known as ice skates.
Skating as a Sport
Skating, besides being an important form of winter recreation and the essential skill in the game of ice hockey (see hockey, ice) has developed
often in the evening for an hour or so as a break from his law reading.
Jackson’s home ice in Albany was frozen Washington Park Lake, which
is located about two blocks from his Lark Street apartment. (39) On one
occasion that winter, his classmate Albert A. (Bert) Arnold of
north of New York City and south of Albany along the Hudson River.
, invited Jackson to go skating with him on the lake. Arnold
knew that his cousin Irene Alice Gerhardt, also of Kingston, was going
to be there, and he wanted her and Jackson to meet. Miss Gerhardt then
was a twenty-one year old
graduate who was working
for New York’s Commissioner of Excise in the
. (40) She was bright and independent and, if I may say so, a
beauty-photographs from the time show her pretty face, striking dark
hair, bright eyes, lively smile, slim figure and stylish dress. On this
occasion, Jackson and Miss Gerhardt skated together and seemed to get
along pretty well.
According to Jackson family lore, there came another day when Irene
Gerhardt was taking her lunch break on an outdoor park bench, probably
right behind the Capitol, directly across the street from Albany Law
School. On this occasion, she tried to entice a squirrel to approach her
the food she was offering by calling to it, more than once,
of the day: “Come here, Bobby.” Within
The range within which sound can be heard by the unaided ear; hearing distance:
law student Jackson, who previously had met Miss Gerhardt. Beckoned by
approached her and more conversation ensued. (41) In
time, these conversations led to an invitation to a dance, other dates,
romance, courtship and, in time, their marriage.
The ice skating Dating of Bob Jackson and Irene Gerhardt is notable
for its intrinsic charm, and because it is connected to some lessons
about individual freedom and government restraint. Ice skating in 1912
on Albany’s frozen Washington Park Lake sounds like wholesome,
simple fun to twenty-first century ears, but in Albany almost one
hundred years ago it became a topic of great public controversy. During
that first month of 1912, there was no law in Albany that affirmatively
authorized Sunday ice skating on the lake and so, absent such explicit
legal permission and in deference to the Christian Sabbath, Sunday ice
skating there did not occur. (42) (Sunday skaters instead used
Albany’s frozen, and more dangerous, river, canal and other
locations, (43) and Sunday visitors to Washington Park were limited to
“skateless sliding” on its frozen Lake. (44))
In February 1912, however, Albany’s corporation counsel
informed ice skaters that although there was a general State law against
“disturbing the peace” on the first day of the week, no Albany
Sunday skating. (45) The would-be
Sabbath skaters–many of whom could not skate on weekdays because they
were workers–also came to understand that neither the public safety
commissioner nor the parks superintendent would interfere with them if
on Sundays they took to the ice on skates. And so, despite the fervent
opposition of religious institutions and believers, (46) they did
skate–on the evening of Sunday, February 4th, more than one thousand
people skated on Washington Park Lake, (47) and from then on, Sunday ice
skating on the lake apparently flourished. The skaters were, as the
corporation counsel put it, “the minority” whose beliefs were
out of line with those of the religious majority, (48) but Albany’s
political officials never acted to
tr.v. crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing, crim·i·nal·iz·es
1. To impose a criminal penalty on or for; outlaw.
2. To treat as a criminal.
preferred Sunday pursuit. And although Justice Jackson never stated the
connection explicitly, it is hard not to hear his 1912 skate blades
scraping faintly in the background of his 1943 Supreme Court opinion
invalidating West Virginia’s law compelling public school children
to salute the American flag: “If there is any fixed star in our
constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can
prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or
other matters of opinion….” (49)
In May 1912, Albany Law School’s commencement was only a month
off when a distressing situation developed. The School noticed that two
of the students who were “[w]ell toward the top” of the senior
class, twins Clara B. Pritchard and Clarissa Pritchard of
, were only nineteen years old. (50) Confronted with this
information, Dean J. Newton Fiero decided that he would enforce against
the Pritchards the “rule” that no law student could receive
the LL.B. degree before he or she was twenty-one years old. (51) Fiero
also decided that the sisters would be permitted to take part in
graduation exercises (except that they would receive no law degrees!).
In despair, the sisters told their story to the newspapers, resulting in
significant coverage in Albany and even a story in the New York Times.
(52) But Albany Law School did not budge–Dean Fiero refused to exempt
the Pritchards from the minimum age eligibility required to receive the
law degrees that they had earned in the classroom.
It turned out that Clara and Clarissa Pritchard were not the only
successful students in that Albany Law School senior class who were too
young to receive law degrees. And to the Law School’s marginal
credit, it at least applied its age rule uniformly, and without regard
to gender. This fact received no newspaper coverage at the time, but at
Albany Law School’s commencement on June 6, 1912, the third
successful law student who was not awarded the LL.B. degree was the male
baby of the class, twenty-year-old Robert H. Jackson of Frewsburg. He,
like the Pritchard sisters, received a diploma of graduation rather than
an actual law degree. (53)
III. JACKSON’S RETURNS, AND HIS NEAR-RETURNS, TO ALBANY
After he completed his Albany Law School studies, Robert Jackson
returned to his family in Frewsburg and soon was residing in Jamestown.
During an additional year (1912-1913) as Frank Mott’s apprentice,
Jackson turned twenty-one years old, which–finally–made him old enough
to take the New York State bar examination. He did, and he passed, and
on November 24, 1913, in
Rochester, New York
, he was admitted to
practice law by New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division,
Fourth Department. For the next twenty years, Jackson’s home and
his law practice base were in western New York State (mostly in
Jamestown). He thought, in early years, of running for the
or some other elective office, but his Democratic Party
was such a minority in that region–as Jackson himself put it later,
“in that day a Democrat was like a vegetarian, a little queer but
not dangerous” (54)–that he believed he had no prospects as a
Non-candidacy pulls and opportunities first brought Jackson back to
, he returned to Albany to close the Gerhardt
deal. Irene Gerhardt had continued to live and work in Albany during
Jackson’s first few years as a lawyer on the other side of the
state. While he was working to establish himself in law practice and
financially, they courted by mail and occasional, thoroughly chaperoned,
visits. By early 1916 they were engaged, and on April 24, 1916, they
were married in Albany’s
see Episcopal Church.
. They then settled in Jamestown, where they raised their
children–son William Eldred Jackson, born in 1919, and daughter Mary
, born in 1921. Their continuing family tie to Albany
was Irene’s mother Margaret, who resided there from about the time
Jackson was in law school until her death in 1932.
Beginning in 1918, young attorney Robert Jackson also began to
travel back to Albany to argue cases before the New York Court of
Appeals. Jackson’s appearances before the Court were intermittent
but regular: he argued seven cases between 1918 and 1931. (55) His
record before the Court of Appeals was a mere two wins and five losses,
but his oral arguments were early glimpses of the advocacy skills that
eventually brought him world acclaim.
Jackson’s career path ultimately led him beyond Albany and
Court of Appeals advocacy, but he remained connected, politically and
professionally, to his state capital. During Franklin Roosevelt’s
two two-year terms as governor of New York (1929-1933), Jackson became
an increasingly significant gubernatorial advisor, political supporter
, and those roles, in addition to private legal work,
brought Jackson to Albany quite regularly. His most important official
task was service beginning in 1931 on the commission to investigate the
administration of justice in New York State. Its members–some appointed
by Governor Roosevelt, others by the legislature and four, including
Jackson, by the New York State Bar Association–worked with academic
colleagues to study and make recommendations to improve the state court
In Jackson’s later public life, Albany cropped up regularly as
a potential professional and personal destination. As early as 1934,
Jackson was discussed publicly and encouraged privately as a leading
Democratic prospect for election to the New York Court of Appeals. (57)
Jackson by that date had joined the New Deal–he had been appointed by
President Roosevelt, confirmed by the Senate and was serving as
assistant general counsel in the Treasury Department’s Bureau of
Revenue–and never made the New York court race. Indeed, by staying in
Washington and never seeking election to the Court of Appeals, Jackson
disregarded the advice of the Court of Appeals’s most famous
alumnus, former Chief Judge (and then U.S. Supreme Court Associate
Benjamin N. Cardozo
, who encouraged Jackson privately to seek
election to that state court bench.
In spring 1936, New York Governor
Herbert H. Lehman
, who was
completing his second term as FDR’s successor, announced that
family and business reasons had convinced him not to seek reelection.
(58) The New York Times put that news on page one, and its
, at a point that was just two years into Jackson’s New
Deal service in Washington, demonstrated Jackson’s political
stature: Lehman Not to Run Again; Blow to Party in State; Jackson Likely
Candidate. (59) That Jackson political candidacy also did not come to
pass. President Roosevelt persuaded Lehman to change his mind, (60)
which immediately raised the new prospect of Jackson running with him as
the Democratic candidate for
n. Abbr. Lt. Gov.
1. An elected official ranking just below the governor of a state in the United States.
2. The nonelective chief of government of a Canadian province.
. (61) Jackson did not
seek that fall 1936 nomination either, however, and Lehman and
1. The candidate or nominee for the lesser of two closely associated political offices.
2. A companion.
3. A horse used to set the pace in a race for another horse.
M. William Bray
were reelected overwhelmingly that November.
By 1938, President Roosevelt’s Lehman/Jackson/New York
gubernatorial calculations were very different. One factor was his
diminished regard for Lehman, who had broken with the President over his
Court-packing plan. (62) Another was his very high regard for Jackson,
whose powerful testimony defending the Court proposal most recently had
demonstrated his loyalty, brilliance and political skill. And Roosevelt,
finally, was planning to follow tradition and retire after two terms in
the White House, which had him thinking about who should succeed him as
the leading Democratic candidate and, he hoped, president. In late 1937,
President Roosevelt felt strongly that Jackson should succeed him as
president, and that the position from which he should run in 1940 was,
as it had been for FDR himself eight years earlier, the most important
and powerful state government office in the country: governor of New
York. Roosevelt thus tried to orchestrate a 1938 boom to send Jackson to
Albany as governor. (63) It went nowhere–Democratic Party chairman
objected and obstructed, as did New York machine Democrats
; Jackson tested the waters but never really ran,
preferring instead the law path that led to his March 1938 appointment
as Solicitor General and all that followed in his legal career; and
Governor Lehman, who again planned not to seek reelection, ultimately
accepted a convention draft that fall and defeated the Republican
nominee, prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey. And in 1940, of course, no White
House vacancy opened up–which led Jackson to remark years later that he
was relieved not to have been elected governor in 1938 because it turned
out to be “a dead-end street with the situation as it developed in
1940 and 1944.” (64)
Following Jackson’s work at Nuremberg during 1945 and 1946,
Albany again was a potential next home–he had not been happy on the
Supreme Court in spring 1945 and he had been, in accepting President
Truman’s appointment to prosecute the Nazi war criminals,
experimenting with the experience of being a former justice.
Jackson’s possible alternatives were numerous, ranging from private
law practice in Washington or New York City or even Jamestown to
candidacies for the U.S. Senate or governor of New York or the New York
Court of Appeals or, as Truman recognized during his first White House
year, for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1948. (65)
In the end, Jackson’s decision was to stay his course. From
Nuremberg itself, he responded to public speculation by disclaiming any
interest in seeking political office. (66) He returned to the Supreme
Court in fall 1946 and served there with distinction for his remaining
But Albany–and especially Albany Law School–continued to be for
Jackson a very significant place in his memories, loyalties and
IV. JACKSON’S RETURNS TO ALBANY LAW SCHOOL
Justice Jackson returned to Albany Law School for a final visit
just short of forty years after he had enrolled there as a student in
1911. On June 1, 1951, in his tenth year as an Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court, Jackson was Albany Law School’s celebrity guest, and
it awarded him an honorary doctorate, at the School’s centennial
commencement exercises. (67) Jackson then attended a special,
prearranged private luncheon with fourteen or so members of his own law
school class. They told old stories, enjoyed each other’s company
and lamented that about twenty-seven other members of their Class of
1912 now were deceased. (68) In those last years of Jackson’s own
life, his contacts with Albany Law School and its more recent students
had been highlighted by his employment of Howard C. Buschman, Jr., Class
of 1949 and a former editor-in-chief of this Law Review, as one of his
two law clerks during the Supreme Court’s October Term 1949.
More notable, perhaps because it was more of an inaugural event
than a valedictory occasion, was Robert H. Jackson’s visit to
Albany Law School and his speech at its June 5, 1941, commencement
exercises. When Jackson came to Albany on that date, he was following by
seventy-two hours the news that Chief Justice
announced his decision to resign as of July 1, 1941. The subsequent
headline speculation identified Jackson-who by then had been the
Attorney General of the United States for seventeen months–as President
Roosevelt’s likely nominee to be the next
Chief Justice of the
. (69) Jackson also was deeply immersed in war-related and
war-preparatory issues, including providing the legal justification for
the President’s impending use of federal troops to seize and run
North American Aviation
production plant in Inglewood, California.
(70) Yet Jackson had said yes to his alma mater’s invitation, and
he kept his date to deliver its commencement address.
understandably had some trouble getting
out of Washington early on the morning of Thursday, June 5, 1941, but he
made it to Albany by the middle of that afternoon, in time to check into
the Fort Orange Club before dinner and the evening commencement.
Reporters in Albany promptly tracked him down at the Club. Jackson
welcomed them into his room with his typical informality–they arrived
and were invited in in time to watch Jackson pull up his suspenders, tie
his tie, and don his coat and vest. Jackson then waived the reporters to
the chairs while he sat on the bed. Not surprisingly, he brushed aside
queries about government matters, including the rumors that President
Roosevelt was about to appoint Jackson chief justice. But Jackson spoke
freely and happily about his time as a law student in Albany, when he
had “lived with some Jamestown friends in Lark Street,” and
about his many returns as a lawyer to argue before Albany courts and
various state commissions. (71) Jackson’s classmate Judge Edward N.
Scheiberling, who was president of the Albany Law School
, also was present in the room, and they both–addressing
each other as “Ed” and “Bob”–shared law school
memories with the reporters.
Jackson did address one substantive national policy matter. When
“the floundering reporters” asked about the
Federal Bureau of
(FBI), division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice charged with investigating all violations of federal laws except those assigned to some other federal agency.
, the Attorney General finally gave them a job-related
statement–he responded by offering a strong defense of the Bureau:
J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, ..... insists that the caliber of the men be kept at the same standards as always, despite the fact that it has been necessary to increase the staff greatly. We have about 3,000 men now, and nearly all of them are law school graduates, accountants or both. (72)
With regard to law school graduates, Albany Law School took the
occasion of that June 1941 commencement to rectify a situation that had
grown, for the School, ever more unfortunate in the years since 1912.
Albany knew that what had been the Clara and Clarissa Pritchard,
too-young-to-receive-law-degrees issue in the public eye that year also
had been a Robert Jackson issue. Now, twenty-nine years later, Jackson
was the Albany Law School alumnus who had achieved prominence in both
private practice and public service, who was a Cabinet officer, and who
might very soon be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United
States–and Albany had never awarded him his law degree! For that
constellation of reasons, the School decided at its 1941 commencement to
make matters right. Albany Law School that evening conferred on Robert
H. Jackson, belatedly, his law degree as of the Class of 1912. (Ten
years later, after he had become an Associate Justice, Jackson suggested
that the Cornell Law Quarterly describe him in the typical
author-identifying footnote on the first page of an article that he was
publishing there as “Albany Law School, 1912, LL.B. June 5, 1941,
as of Class of 1912.” He then explained: “The peculiar entry
about Albany Law School, for your information and not for print, is that
I graduated in 1912 while under 21 years of age, for which reason I was
not entitled to a degree. As time cured that, the degree was awarded
later on a sort of
nunc pro tunc
In his Albany Law School commencement address that evening–the
date was June 5, 1941, six months before
land-locked harbor, on the southern coast of Oahu island, Hawaii, W of Honolulu; one of the largest and best natural harbors in the E Pacific Ocean. In the vicinity are many U.S. military installations, including the chief U.S.
, before direct
American military involvement in European affairs, in a United States
where many millions were still hoping that the developing world war
would not be ours to fight–Attorney General Jackson spoke about the end
. America’s hope of pursuing its democratic ideals,
Jackson stated, was inseparably dependent on Germany being defeated in
battle of the Atlantic
Jackson then turned to a legal topic that he could not yet capture
in the shorthand of a single word. (Five more years, and direct personal
responsibility for an unprecedented legal undertaking, would give
Jackson that word: Nuremberg.) This is part of what he said:
[T]he reconstruction of a peace-time society, both within our country and the world, will be the test and the opportunity of the legal profession.... Beginning with the early struggle for liberty, continuing in the Constitutional Convention and the contest for ratification, and exemplified in a century and a half of interpretation and application to problems of increasing range and complexity, the legal profession has supplied much of the leadership that has made our American system what it is. In no single field is this more evident than in the field of international relations. I do not know by what technique the world will try to re-establish working Relationships between nations. But it is difficult to conceive of any escape from the rule of force, or any method of adjusting international grievances that would not basically be a mere extension and adaptation of techniques familiar to lawyers. It may proceed by contractual method, and negotiate treaties and agreements that re-establish a basis of peace. Or it may follow more legislative procedures through setting up some representative body to work out, by political methods, a reconciliation of interests. Or it may proceed through some adjudicative method to take up points of controversy--some perhaps never before thought to be justiciable--and arbitrate them according to legal principles. Or it may invoke a combination of some or all of these. But however the world tackles its great unfinished task of world organization to substitute reason for force, it will take up some device in which competent men [and women] of our profession will have had experiences, learning and skill. (75)
Less than five years later, as the chief United States lawyer who
prosecuted captured Nazi leaders in Nuremberg, Germany, for committing
crimes against the peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity and
conspiracy, Justice Jackson personified the legal project he had
anticipated and described preliminarily at Albany Law School in 1941.
Indeed, as Jackson stood at the podium in room 600 in Nuremberg’s
Palace of Justice in November 1945 and began his opening statement to
, he in some sense merely
repeated–as he thereby lived–that Albany idea of a lawyer’s work:
May it please Your Honors:
The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason. (76)
Robert H. Jackson spent almost fifty years of his too-short life
studying, mastering, representing, articulating and advancing the law.
Fifty years after his departure, as that legacy continues to grow and
develop, it also traces back, and connects deeply, to his own roots in
(1) See generally ROBERT H. JACKSON, THAT MAN: AN INSIDER’S
PORTRAIT OF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (John Q. Barrett ed., 2003).
(2) See Phil C. Neal, Justice Jackson: A Law Clerk’s
Recollections, 68 ALB. L. REV. 549 (2005); see also John Q. Barrett, A
Commander’s Power, A Civilian’s Reason: Justice Jackson’s
Korematsu Dissent, 68 L. & CONTEMP. PROBS. (forthcoming 2005).
(3) For detailed information on Jackson’s ancestry and
upbringing, see EUGENE C. GERHART, AMERICA’S ADVOCATE: ROBERT H.
JACKSON 25-35 (1958).
(4) THE REMINISCENCES OF ROBERT H. JACKSON 4 (Columbia U., Oral
History Research Office, Harlan B. Phillips ed., 1955) [hereinafter
Phillips-Jackson Interviews]. I thank Nancy Jackson for permission to
quote from this oral history.
(5) Id. at 44-45.
(6) For more detail on Miss Willard, see Jackson’s June 10,
1931, speech in her memory, http://www.roberthjackson.org/theman2-7-1-1.asp.
(7) For more detail on Mr. Fletcher, see Jackson’s speech of
June 30, 1932, http://www.roberthjackson.org/theman2-7-1-2.asp.
(8) Phillips-Jackson Interviews,
note 4, at 67.
(9) In 1871, two years before Frank Mott’s birth, his widowed
paternal grandmother Lydia Carr Mott married widower Ezra Gregory. By
that date, one of Mr. Gregory’s nine children from his first
marriage, a daughter named Parthena (Perthena?) Mariah, was married to
Daniel Houghwot (whose Dutch surname got spelled in various ways down
through the generations of his family), and they were the parents of a
four-year-old daughter, Angelina (known as Lina). Thirteen years later,
Lina Houghwot married William Eldred Jackson, and in 1892 she gave birth
to their first child, Robert Houghwout Jackson. Lydia Mort Gregory thus
was Robert Jackson’s step-great-grandmother on his maternal
grandmother’s side of the family, and Frank Mott, who Jackson knew
as his mother’s “cousin”–they actually were
“step-cousins,” because Mott’s father (Isaac Mott) and
Lina Jackson’s mother (Parthena Gregory Houghwot) were
step-siblings–was one of Robert’s relatives through his
great-grandfather’s remarriage. During Robert Jackson’s early
years, Lydia Mott Gregory lived in Russell, Pennsylvania, northeast of
Jackson’s Spring Creek birthplace and south of his Frewsburg
boyhood home. She became a widow for the second time in 1895 and died in
1918, shortly after her eighty-ninth birthday. Lydia Gregory was
Jackson’s only great-grandparent who lived past his very early
(10) Phillips-Jackson Interviews, supra note 4, at 67.
(11) Id. at 65.
(12) JACKSON, supra note 1, at 3. Jackson recalled watching
Roosevelt “in action” during this legislative battle, which
lasted from mid-January until the end of March 1911 and featured FDR and
senators voting in the Capitol at 10:00 a.m. each
day. See FRANK FREIDEL, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: THE APPRENTICESHIP 102-14
(13) Phillips-Jackson Interviews, supra note 4, at 70-71 (with some
punctuation and capitalization corrected).
(14) Id. at 27.
(16) It seems likely that Jackson’s apartment mates during
this year were Auguste Bartholdi (Bart) Peterson and Adolf F. Johnson,
two Albany Law School classmates who came from the Jamestown area and
later returned to practice law in that city.
(17) The 1912 Albany city directory that lists Jackson’s home
as 267 Lark Street also seems to indicate that he was affiliated with
something known as “Geological Hall.” See DIRECTORY FOR THE
YEAR 1912 OF THE CITIES OF ALBANY AND RENSSELAER 346 (1912) (containing
the listing “JACKSON … Robert H, Geological Hall h 267
(18) See ALBANY LAW SCHOOL, ANNUAL CIRCULAR OF INFORMATION 16-17
(1912) [hereinafter 1912 ALBANY LAW CIRCULAR].
(19) See id. at 45.
(20) See Letter from Andrew V. Clements to Charles Fairman, Dec. 3,
1954, at 1, in Charles Fairman Papers,
South Texas College of Law
Library, Houston, Texas.
(21) See 1912 ALBANY LAW CIRCULAR, supra note 18, at 16-17. The
Trustees were responding to the New York Court of Appeals’ new
rules governing admission to the bar. The Court decreed that as of July
1, 1911, no one could be admitted to the New York bar without four years
of law study (including law office work), except for college or
university graduates, who could be admitted after three years of study.
See id. at 16.
(22) See id. at 45.
(23) The results of these new policies, stated in contemporary
terms, were that Albany Law School awarded degrees to 2Ls (including
those who had transferred in as 2Ls in 1911) in 1912, to a very small
class of unclear provenance in 1913, and to 3Ls (including any former
apprentice who had transferred into the School in 1912) in 1914.
(24) Letter from Andrew V. Clements to Charles Fairman, supra note
20, at 1. See generally Seven Young Women at Albany Law School, ALBANY
EV. JRNL., Sept. 19, 1911, at 1 (reporting that total registration of
juniors and seniors numbered 140); Big Class to Be Graduated,
TIMES-UNION (Albany, NY), June 4, 1912, at 10 (listing sixty-eight
students, including Jackson, who Albany Law School announced had passed
their examinations and would be receiving diplomas two nights hence).
(25) See Albany Law School Keeps High Place in World of Learning,
KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, June 9, 1912, at 2.
(26) See ELIZABETH K. ALLEN & DIANA S. WAITE, ALBANY LAW SCHOOL
1851-2001: A TRADITION OF CHANGE 40 (2000) (reproducing a photograph of
the building). That building is long gone; its site and much of the
surrounding land is occupied today by the Alfred E. Smith state office
building at the north end of Albany’s distinctive
Interestingly, when Jackson arrived at Albany Law School in
September 1911, State Senator Frank Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor and
their young children were living nearby, in a three-story house at 248
State Street that Roosevelt had rented for the year. See Franklin D.
Roosevelt diary entry, Jan. 1, 1911, in State Senator Papers, Box 1,
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library,
Hyde Park, New York
]; see also Letter from DeLancey Palmer to Franklin D.
Roosevelt, Nov. 29, 1910 (reporting that a Mr. Sturdee has accepted
FDR’s offer to rent the house), in State Senator Papers, Box 1,
File 6: FDR’s Albany Residences, FDRL. As of January 1, 1912, the
Roosevelts apparently moved to another Albany house, located at 4 Elk
Street, which they leased for that calendar year. See Letter from
Worthington Palmer to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dec. 19, 1911 (enclosing a
lease signed by a Mrs. Douglas), in State Senator Papers, Box 1, File 6:
FDR’s Albany Residences, FDRL.
(27) Robert H. Jackson, An Address Delivered at the Ninetieth
Commencement of the Albany Law School 1 (June 5, 1941) (pamphlet)
[hereinafter Jackson 1941 Commencement Address[, in Robert H. Jackson
Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division [hereinafter Jackson
Papers], Box 41.
(28) See Jackson’s first semester Albany Law School report
card, in Jackson Papers, supra note 27, Box 244.
(29) See Phillips-Jackson Interviews, supra note 4, at 72; see also
Frank White, Noted Lawyer, Dies at 69, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 29, 1927, at 27
(reporting that White was a “lecturer on corporation law” at
Albany Law School for twenty years, and that he was author of
“White on Corporations,” a standard work).
(30) Letter from Andrew V. Clements to Charles Fairman, supra note
20, at 2. The academic star of Jackson’s law school class was
twenty-one-year-old Isadore Bookstein of Albany, who on graduation night
“nearly cleaned up everything in sight by winning four first prizes
and one second prize.” Prize Winners at Albany Law School,
TIMES-UNION (Albany, NY), June 7, 1912, at 7. Bookstein later served for
many years as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.
(31) Phillips-Jackson Interviews, supra note 4, at 72.
(32) Id. at 71-72.
(33) See 1912 ALBANY LAW CIRCULAR, supra note 18, at 3.
(34) Jackson’s great-grandfather Elijah Jackson was born in
Litchfield in 1772 and lived there until he moved west with his father
in 1788. In 1797, Elijah Jackson and another pioneer made the first
white settlement in Spring Creek, Pennsylvania.
(35) See Praises M’Kinley on 69th Birthday, KNICKERBOCKER
PRESS, Jan. 30, 1912, at 3 (reporting that “[n]early the full
membership of the class attended” this evening event “at the
Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society building’); see
also Albany Law School Keeps High Place in World of Learning,
KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, June 9, 1912, at 2 (describing Arrel’s address
and reporting that he and McKinley had lived during academic year
18661867 in a boarding house at 36 Jay Street).
(36) See Notes and Personals, 3 AM. L.
SCH Socket Head
SCH Synchronization Channel
SCH Space Center Houston
. REV. 313 (West 1913).
The Cornell dean, Frank Irvine, served in that position for nine years.
See generally Frank Irvine Dies: Ex Nebraska Judge, N.Y. TIMES, June 24,
1931, at 20.
(37) The former judge, Matthew
1. A waterfall.
2. A steep ravine.
[Scottish Gaelic linne, pool, waterfall.]
Bruce, who had served as
during 1905-1906 and then become a judge
of the State Supreme Court, First Department, in 1907, delivered a
lecture, “The Lawyer An Officer of the Court,” at Albany Law
School on May 22, 1912. See Good Lawyers Too Few, Bruce Says,
KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, May 23, 1912. A printed version of his speech is
held by the Albany Law School library.
(38) This alumnus, retired Union Army General Thomas Hamlin Hubbard
(1838-1915) of New York, graduated from Albany Law School in 1857 and,
forty-five years later, sent it a $10,000 check “to found a chair
of Legal Ethics….” Gift by Gen. T.H. Hubbard, N.Y. TIMES, May 30,
1902, at 1; see generally Gen. T.H. Hubbard, Financier, Dead, N.Y.
TIMES, May 20, 1915, at 11.
(39) Washington Park is located within a mile of the New York State
Capitol. In 1911-1912, two streetcar lines ran near the Park, which
begins one block west of the location of Jackson’s then-apartment.
On Monday, January 8, 1912, a horse named “Old Bob” cleared
Washington Park Lake (which actually was two lakes, an upper and a
lower) by hauling a snow plow across its surface until “the ice
glistened in the frosty air like a sheet of glass,” and “the
first good skating of the season” then commenced. Hundreds Enjoy
Skating at Park, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Jan. 9, 1912, at 1.
(40) Albany’s 1912 city directory lists Irene A. Gerhardt as a
n. pl. sten·os
1. A stenographer.
” working in the Capitol, room 245, and boarding at 8
Chestnut Street. See DIRECTORY FOR THE YEAR 1912 OF THE CITIES OF ALBANY
AND RENSSELAER 277 (1912). In spring 1912, Jackson mailed to Miss
Gerhardt at 8 Chestnut Street an invitation to attend Albany Law
School’s June 6, 1912, commencement exercises as his guest. See
Irene Gerhardt’s invitation, in Jackson Papers, supra note 27, Box
(41) I thank Tom Loftus for sharing this story with me. He heard it
from his grandmother Irene Gerhardt Jackson (1890-1986); Mrs. Jackson
was in her eighties and perhaps suffering from some dementia when she
told this story to Tom, but he believes that this description of
“how she met
[Alteration of grandpa.]
” in Albany came from her firm long-term
memories. See generally Thomas A. Loftus III, That Baby: Justice
Jackson’s Writings About a Grandchild, and
, 68 ALB. L.
REV. 37 (2004).
(42) See Sunday Skating in Park Is Urged, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Jan.
26, 1912, at 10. Six year’s earlier, in December 1905,
Albany’s common council had voted eleven to seven against a
proposed ordinance that would have permitted Sunday skating. See id.
(43) See id.
(44) Skaters Say They Will Skate Today, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Feb.
4, 1912, at 11.
(45) See No Law Prohibits Skating on Sunday, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS,
Feb. 1, 1912, at 1 (quoting the corporation counsel quoting
‘”Section 2145 of the [New York] penal code”).
(46) See, e.g., Sunday Schools Object to Skating on Sundays,
KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Feb. 20, 1912, at 11 (describing protest
resolutions that five Sunday schools filed with Albany’s common
council); [The Rev.] James N. Knipe, Opposes Sunday Skating,
KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Feb. 3, 1912, at 11 (decrying, in this letter to
the newspaper editor from the pastor of Albany’s
two denominations of Presbyterianism.
1 In Scotland, the United Presbyterian Church was formed by the union (1847) of the United Secession Church with the majority of the congregations of the Relief Church.
, “the sin of Sabbath desecration”).
(47) See Sunday Skaters at Park Unmolested, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS,
Feb. 5, 1912, at 1. On this Sunday, many people came to the Park
“without skates, skeptical of the report that they would not be
interfered with. But when they saw the enjoyment others were having they
remained and looked on. Some who did not live too far away went home and
returned prepared to skate.” Id.
(48) The corporation counsel,
Arthur L. Andrews
, told a local
reporter that, “[i]n matters of necessity, I believe that the
minority should submit to the will of the majority, but it cannot be
claimed that this [Sunday ice skating ban] is a matter of necessity and
the rights of these people, who are taxpayers and who have helped to pay
for and maintain the lake[,] should be respected.” No Law Prohibits
Skating on Sunday, supra note 45, at 1.
(49) W. Va. State Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943).
(50) Too Young for Law Degree, N.Y. TIMES, May 10, 1912, at 10. The
Pritchard sisters had been born in August 1892. See Girl Law Students
Lose Degree; Not 21, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, May 10, 1912, at 2. A third
female student in the senior class, Daisy L.
see bass, fish.
Any of about eight species (genus Centropomus) of tropical marine fishes that are long and silvery and have two dorsal fins, a long head, and a large mouth with a projecting lower jaw.
(later Mrs. Henry V. Borst), was already twenty-one years old and
thus was eligible to receive her degree in 1912, but for unexplained
reasons she later was listed as graduating with the Class of 1913. See
ALBANY LAW SCHOOL ALUMNI DIRECTORY 90 (1927).
(51) See id. This Albany Law School rule seems to have been
promulgated based on, or at least in solidarity with, the requirement
that applicants had to be twenty-one years old to take the New York
State bar examination.
(52) See id. (quoting Clarissa Pritchard’s “depairing
remark to a reporter on May 9, 1912: ‘Isn’t it awful? …
Here’s all this time going to waste. I suppose it wouldn’t pay
in the long run, but I wish we had thought ahead a little when we
began.”‘); Girl Graduates of Law School, Two of Whom Are Too
Young To Be Trusted With Diplomas, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, May 11, 1912, at
1 (publishing a front-page group photograph of the Pritchards with their
classmate Daisy Snook); Too Young for Law Degree, supra note 50; Young
Women Who Complete Course in Albany Law School, TIMES-UNION (Albany,
NY), June 6, 1912, at 5 (publishing individual photographs of the
Pritchards and Miss Snook and reporting that the former “must await
diploma[s] until [they] reach the legal age”); One Lone Girl to
Get Law Diploma, KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, June 6, 1912, at 12.
(53) See ALBANY LAW SCHOOL ALUMNI DIRECTORY, supra note 50, at 89.
Albany Law School awarded Clara Pritchard and Clarissa Pritchard (later
Clarissa L’opez Acosta) their law degrees with the class of 1914.
See id. at 91.
(54) Phillips-Jackson Interviews, supra note 4, at 53.
(55) See John Q. Barrett, Robert H. Jackson’s Oral Arguments
before the New York Court of Appeals, HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF
NEW YORK NEWSLETTER (forthcoming 2005) (draft available on the Social
Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.
(56) See Roosevelt Signs Court Inquiry Bill, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 1,
1931, at 18; see also JACKSON, supra note 1, at 8.
(57) See Lehman Assures Bray’s Nomination, N.Y. TIMES, Sept.
26, 1934, at 1 (reporting that if the Democratic Party convention is to
nominate a Democrat to run for the third and final open seat on the
Court of Appeals, “Robert H. Jackson of Chautauqua County is
mentioned as a probable selection”); Finch Not to Quit Judicial
Contest, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 1, 1934, at 4 (reporting that if Justice
Edward R. Finch had declined the Democratic convention nomination to run
for the Court of Appeals, the party’s committee to fill vacancies
on the convention ticket “would have picked … either Robert H.
Jackson of Jamestown or Harlan W. Rippey of Rochester”).
(58) See ALLAN NEVINS, HERBERT H. LEHMAN & HIS ERA 187 (1963).
(59) N.Y. TIMES, May 21, 1936, at 1. The Washington Post also gave
the story front page treatment, but it relegated Jackson’s name to
its fourth-tier headline. See Candidacy of Landon Is Assailed by Farley;
Gov. Lehman to Quit, WASH. POST, May 21, 1936, at 1 (reporting, in the
third sub headline, that “[New York Attorney General John J.]
Bennett and Jackson Head Discussion of Likely Candidates”).
(60) See Lehman Yields to Pressure, Will Run for Third Term;
Roosevelt Hails Decision, N.Y. TIMES, July 1, 1936, at 1. Accord NEVINS,
supra note 58, at 188.
(61) See Jackson Favored on Lehman Ticket, N.Y. TIMES, July 2,
1936, at 8.
(62) In a private letter to the President, Lehman condemned the
plan as “meet[ing] an immediate situation”–“narrow and
unconvincing’ Supreme Court decisions invalidating New Deal
measures–“at the expense of orderly and deliberate processes of
government.” Letter from Herbert H. Lehman to Franklin D.
Roosevelt, Feb. 26, 1937 (quoted in NEVINS, supra note 58, at 190).
Although this letter was not released publicly, United States Senator
Robert Wagner (D.-NY) released that summer a similar letter in which
Lehman urged him to vote against Roosevelt’s proposal. See id. at
192; see also JACKSON, supra note 1, at 32, 229-30 n.26.
(63) See id. at 31-38.
(64) Id. at 38.
(65) See GERALD T. DUNNE, HUGO BLACK AND THE JUDICIAL REVOLUTION
225-26 & 453 n.3 (1977) (describing President Truman’s spring
1946 comment to his aide Clark Clifford that Justice Jackson, who then
was serving as chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, was the “one man
… whose experience and talents seemed to make him presidential
(66) See Letter from Robert H. Jackson to
Harry S. Truman
, Apr. 24,
1946, at 3 (“… I think you should know that under no
circumstances would I consider leaving the bench to run for Governor of
New York or any other political office”), in President’s
Secretary’s File, Truman Papers, Harry S. Truman Presidential
Museum & Library, Independence, MO (published on
(67) See Justice Jackson Honored, N.Y. TIMES, June 2, 1951, at 17.
Shortly thereafter, Jackson was elected to Albany Law School’s
Board of Trustees. See U.S. Justice Becomes Trustee, N.Y. TIMES, Sept.
27, 1951, at 31.
(68) Letter from Robert H. Jackson to A. Bartholdi Peterson, June
13, 1951, in Jackson Papers, supra note 27, Box 48.
(69) See, e.g., William V. Nessly, Chief Justice Hughes Retires
July 1; Jackson Most Likely Successor, WASH. POST, June 3, 1941, at 1;
Jackson Rumored as Possibility, N.Y. TIMES, June 3, 1941, at 1.
(70) See EDWARD S. GREENBAUM, A LAWYER’S JOB: IN COURT-IN THE
ARMY-IN THE OFFICE 137-41 (1967) (describing his role as War Department
representative on the scene of the Army’s June 8, 1941, takeover of
the North American Aviation bomber production plant in Inglewood);
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 648-49 &
n.17 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring) (discussing President
Roosevelt’s and the United States Army’s seizure of the North
American Aviation plant and Jackson’s involvement in those events
as attorney general).
(71) See Reporters Unanswered: Jackson Silent on U.S. Court Post;
Attorney General Recalls Years at Albany Law School, TIMES-UNION
(Albany, NY), June 6, 1941, at 3.
(73) Letter from Robert H. Jackson to Lorene Joergensen, Dec. 3,
1951, in Jackson Papers, supra note 27, Box 48. At that time, Joergensen
was a Cornell law student and Managing Editor of the Cornell Law
(74) See Jackson 1941 Commencement Address, supra note 27; Albany
Law School; Commencement Address of United States Attorney-General
Jackson, N.Y.L.J., June 10, 1941, at 1, 2.
(75) Jackson 1941 Commencement Address, supra note 27, at 8-9.
(76) ROBERT H. JACKSON, THE NURNBERG CASE 30-31 (1947).
John Q. Barrett, Professor of Law, St. John’s University
School of Law, New York City, and Elizabeth S. Lenna Fellow, Robert H.
Jackson Center, Jamestown, New York (www.roberthjackson.org). Copyright
[C] 2005 by John Q. Barrett, all rights reserved.
This article grows out of my November 15, 2004, keynote lecture at
Albany Law School’s evening program paying tribute to its alumnus
Robert H. Jackson fifty years after the end of his momentous life. I am
very grateful to Allen J. Vickey and Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, whose
vision and enormous energy made that event a great success and who are
responsible for this year’s series of Albany Law Review
publications dedicated to Justice Jackson; to Albany Law School
President and Dean Thomas F. Guernsey and his faculty colleagues for
their interest and support, and for their appreciative custody of their
school’s Jackson legacy; to my fellow lecturers Judge Victoria A.
Graffeo and Phil C. Neal for their inspiring perspectives on Robert H.
Jackson; to Harold Jackson Adams, Gail S. Bensen, Howard C. Buschman,
Jr., Stanley R. Conrad, Adrian H. Cubberley, Eleanor Gerhardt Cubberley,
Robert A. Emery, Eugene C. Gerhart, Nancy R. Jackson, Mark W. Lambert,
Thomas A. Loftus III, Jordan D. Luttrell, Phil Neal and Lorraine S.
Wagner for their friendship and generous responses to various inquiries;
to Eugene Gerhart and the late Harlan Buddington Phillips for their
scholarship, which I rely on throughout this article; to Nancy Jackson
for permission to quote from copyrighted Jackson material; and to St.
John’s law students Ann Carroll, Jessica Duffy and especially
Lauren DiFilippo for excellent research assistance.