SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

William Paterson, 1793-1806

Justice William Paterson, 1793-1806
WILLIAM PATERSON was born on December 24, 1745, in County Antrim, Ireland. His family emigrated to America two years later and eventually settled in Princeton, New Jersey. Paterson was graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1763 and earned a graduate degree in 1766. He read law, was admitted to the bar in 1769, and established a law practice. During the Revolutionary War, Paterson served as an officer with the Somerset County Minutemen and was a member of the Council of Safety. He was elected a delegate to the Provincial Congress of New Jersey in 1775 and to the State Constitutional Convention in 1776. After helping draft the New Jersey Constitution, he became Attorney General of that State, serving from 1776 to 1783. Paterson was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and, as a Senator in the First Federal Congress, he helped to draft the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the federal court system. He left the Senate in 1790 to become Governor and Chancellor of New Jersey. President George Washington nominated Paterson to the Supreme Court of the United States on March 4, 1793. He was confirmed the same day. Paterson served for thirteen years on the Supreme Court and died on September 9, 1806, at the age of sixty.