SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

Rufus W. Peckham, 1896-1909

Justice Rufus W. Peckham, 1896-1909
RUFUS W. PECKHAM was born on November 8, 1838, in Albany, New York. He was educated at the Albany Boys’ Academy and studied privately in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After one year in Europe, Peckham returned to Albany and read law in his father’s office and was admitted to the bar in 1859. Peckham was elected Albany County Attorney in 1869. In 1881, he was named Corporation Counsel to the City of Albany and served two years. In this position, he successfully prosecuted a number of criminal cases in railroad express car robberies. In 1882, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest tribunal. In 1883, he was elected to the New York Supreme Court, and three years later he was elected to the Court of Appeals. During these years, Peckham was politically active. He was instrumental in preventing the New York City Democratic organization from gaining control of the State Democratic Party. Peckham had served on the New York Court of Appeals for nine years when, on December 3, 1895, President Grover Cleveland nominated him to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on December 9, 1895. Peckham served on the Supreme Court for thirteen years and died on October 24, 1909, at the age of seventy.