SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

Smith Thompson, 1823-1843

Justice Smith Thompson, 1823-1843

SMITH THOMPSON was born on January 17, 1768, in Dutchess County, New York. He was graduated from Princeton University in 1788 and taught school and read law with an attorney in Poughkeepsie. In 1793, he joined a Poughkeepsie law firm. In 1800, Thompson was elected to the New York State Legislature, and one year later he served as a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention. In 1802, Thompson was appointed to the New York Supreme Court. He served there as an Associate Justice for twelve years and was named Chief Justice in 1814. Thompson resigned from the New York Supreme Court in 1818 to accept an appointment as Secretary of the Navy from President James Monroe. He served in the cabinet until 1823 when on September 1, he accepted a recess appointment to the Supreme Court. President Monroe formally nominated him and he was confirmed by the Senate on December 9, 1823. Thompson gave up plans to run for President in 1824 and accepted the Supreme Court appointment. Thompson served on the Supreme Court for twenty years. In 1828, while still on the Court, he made an unsuccessful run for Governor of New York. Thompson died on December 18, 1843, at the age of seventy-five.