SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

Samuel F. Miller, 1862-1890

Justice Samuel F. Miller, 1862-1890
SAMUEL F. MILLER was born in Richmond, Kentucky, on April 5, 1816. He studied medicine at Transylvania University and received a degree in 1838. He became a physician and practiced for twelve years in Knox County. Miller developed an interest in legal and political matters and became a Justice of the Peace and member of the Knox County Court, an administrative body, in the 1840s. Miller shared an office with an attorney and began reading law. He was admitted to the bar in 1847 and established a law practice. Miller was opposed to slavery. When the Kentucky Constitutional Convention of 1849 proved inflexible on the question of eventual modification and abolition of slavery, Miller chose to move to a free state. He freed his slaves and settled in Keokuk, Iowa, where he joined a law firm and specialized in land-title, steamboat, and commercial law. Miller also became active politically and campaigned unsuccessfully for nomination as Governor in 1861. On July 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Miller to the Supreme Court of the United States as the first Justice from west of the Mississippi River. The Senate confirmed the appointment the same day. Miller served on the Supreme Court for twenty-eight years. He died on October 13, 1890, at the age of seventy-four.