Van Devanter, Willis, 1859-1941

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Lawyer, jurist, and Supreme Court justice.

From the description of Willis Van Devanter papers, 1884-1941. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70982511

Willis Van Devanter (1859-1941) was Wyoming's first State Supreme Court Justice and eventually came to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He graduated from Cincinnati University Law School in 1881 and began practicing law with his father in Marion, Indiana. Van Devanter moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1884 to practice law and soon became very involved with politics as a member of the territorial legislature and commissioner to revise the territorial statutes. In 1889, President Harrison appointed him Chief Justice of the territorial Supreme Court. After Wyoming became a state in 1890, he was elected to the same position and became the state's first Chief Justice. In 1897, President McKinley appointed him Assistant Attorney General. He remained very active in the Republican Party, and President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him a United States Circuit Judge in 1903. He was named to the Supreme Court by President Taft in 1910, and he remained on the bench until his retirement in 1937. While on the Supreme Court, Van Devanter was considered the Court's foremost expert on cases relating to public lands, mining claims, water rights, and other matters of interest to the Western United States. Van Devanter died as a result of a heart attack in 1941.

From the description of Willis Van Devanter papers, 1879-1966. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 68941150

Biographical Note

  • 1859, Apr. 17: Born, Marion, Ind.
  • 1875 - 1878 : Attended Indiana Asbury University, Greencastle, Ind.
  • 1881: Bachelor of laws, Cincinnati Law School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1881 - 1884 : Practiced law in Marion, Ind.
  • 1883: Married Dellice Burhans
  • 1884: Moved to Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • 1886: Commissioner to revise Wyoming statutes
  • 1887 - 1888 : City attorney, Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • 1888: Member, Wyoming territorial legislature
  • 1889 - 1890 : Chief justice, territorial supreme court of Wyoming
  • 1892 - 1894 : Chairman, Republican State Committee of Wyoming
  • 1896 - 1900 : Member, Republican National Committee
  • 1897 - 1903 : Assistant attorney general assigned to the Department of the Interior
  • 1898 - 1903 : Professor, Columbian University, Washington, D.C.
  • 1903 - 1910 : U.S. court judge, 8th Judicial Circuit
  • 1910 - 1937 : Associate justice, U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1941, Feb. 8: Died, Washington, D.C

From the guide to the Willis Van Devanter Papers, 1884-1941, (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Willis Van Devanter (1859-1941) was Wyoming’s first State Supreme Court Justice and eventually came to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He graduated from Cincinnati University Law School in 1881 and began practicing law with his father in Marion, Indiana.

Van Devanter moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1884 to practice law and soon became very involved with politics as a member of the territorial legislature and commissioner to revise the territorial statutes. In 1889, President Harrison appointed him Chief Justice of the territorial Supreme Court. After Wyoming became a state in 1890, he was elected to the same position and became the state’s first Chief Justice.

In 1897, President McKinley appointed him Assistant Attorney General. He remained very active in the Republican Party, and President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him a United States Circuit Judge in 1903. He was named to the Supreme Court by President Taft in 1910, and he remained on the bench until his retirement in 1937. While on the Supreme Court, Van Devanter was considered the Court’s foremost expert on cases relating to public lands, mining claims, water rights, and other matters of interest to the Western United States.

Van Devanter died as a result of a heart attack in 1941.

From the guide to the Willis Van Devanter papers, 1879-1966, (University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Thomas Watt Gregory Papers, 1896-1933, (bulk 1919-1933) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. 1826 - 2009. Letters Received
referencedIn "March of Time" Collection. 1934 - 1951. March of Time Documentary/Newsreel Films Relating to U.S. History, Government, Politics, Culture, and International Affairs. 1935 - 1953. March of Time, Vol. 03, No. 09 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Knox, John. Papers : of John Knox, 1903-1979. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Harris & Ewing. Group portraits of members of the United States Supreme Court : photographic prints, ca. 1925-1940. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. Papers of William H. Taft, 1784-1973. Library of Congress
creatorOf Denison, Edward Everett, 1873-1953. Miscellaneous, June 1, 1899, 1931. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Huston Thompson Papers, 1908-1965, (bulk 1936-1965) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948. Charles Evans Hughes papers, 1836-1950 (bulk 1905-1940). Library of Congress
referencedIn Gregory, Thomas Watt, 1861-1933. Thomas Watt Gregory papers, 1896-1933 (bulk 1919-1933). Library of Congress
creatorOf Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964. Papers, 1888-1964. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Day, William R. (William Rufus), 1849-1923. William R. Day papers, 1820-1923 (bulk 1897-1917). Library of Congress
creatorOf Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964. Papers, 1888-1964. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
creatorOf Willis Van Devanter papers, 1879-1966 University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
referencedIn Papers, ca.1885-1954 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Papers, 1888-1964 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Papers, 1920-1980 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Papers, 1888-1964 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. William H. Taft papers, 1784-1973 (bulk 1880-1930). Library of Congress
creatorOf McClellan, George B., 1862-1934. Papers, 1885-1932 (bulk 1895-1916) University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
referencedIn Charles Evans Hughes Papers, 1836-1950, (bulk 1905-1940) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Elliott, Richard Nash, 1873-. Papers 1926-1948. Indiana University
creatorOf Van Devanter, Willis, 1859-1941. Willis Van Devanter papers, 1884-1941. Library of Congress
referencedIn William R. Day Papers, 1820-1923, (bulk 1897-1917) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Willis Van Devanter Papers, 1884-1941 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn William H. Taft Papers, 1784-1973, (bulk 1880-1930) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964. Papers, 1888-1964. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Knox, John, 1907-1997. Papers, 1920-1980. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Thompson, Huston. Papers of Huston Thompson, 1908-1965. Library of Congress
creatorOf Van Devanter, Willis, 1859-1941. Willis Van Devanter papers, 1879-1966. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Adams, Elmer B. (Elmer Bragg), 1842-1916 person
correspondedWith Amidon, Charles Fremont, 1856-1937 person
correspondedWith Brandeis, Louis Dembitz, 1856-1941 person
correspondedWith Butler, Pierce, 1866-1939 person
correspondedWith Campbell, A. C. (Archibald Colin) person
correspondedWith Carey, Joseph M. (Joseph Maull), 1845-1924 person
correspondedWith Clark, Clarence D. (Clarence Don), 1851-1930 person
correspondedWith Clarke, John H. (John Hessin), 1857-1945 person
correspondedWith Day, William R. (William Rufus), 1849-1923. person
associatedWith Denison, Edward Everett, 1873-1953. person
associatedWith Elliott, Richard Nash, 1873- person
correspondedWith Gregory, Thomas Watt, 1861-1933. person
associatedWith Harris & Ewing. corporateBody
correspondedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1841-1935 person
correspondedWith Hook, William C. (William Cather), 1857-1921 person
correspondedWith Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948 person
correspondedWith Kellogg, Frank B. (Frank Billings), 1856-1937 person
associatedWith Knox, John. person
associatedWith Knox, John, 1907- person
associatedWith Knox, John, 1907-1997. person
correspondedWith Lacey, John W. (John Wesley), 1848-1936 person
associatedWith McClellan, George B., 1862-1934. person
correspondedWith Mondell, Frank W. (Frank Wheeler), 1860-1939 person
correspondedWith Philips, John Finis, 1834-1919 person
correspondedWith Pollock, John C., 1857-1937 person
associatedWith Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964. person
associatedWith Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) corporateBody
correspondedWith Richards, William A. (William Alford), 1849-1912 person
correspondedWith Riner, John A. (John Alden), 1850-1923 person
correspondedWith Rooker, William Velpeau, ca. 1860-1934 person
correspondedWith Sanford, Edward Terry, 1865-1930 person
correspondedWith Stone, Harlan Fiske, 1872-1946 person
associatedWith Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. person
correspondedWith Thompson, Huston. person
associatedWith United States. Supreme Court. corporateBody
correspondedWith Walter, Luther M. (Luther Mason), 1877-1947 person
associatedWith Warren, Charles, 1868-1954 person
correspondedWith Warren, Francis E. (Francis Emroy), 1844-1929 person
correspondedWith Williams, Sylvester G. person
associatedWith Wyoming. Legislature. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming--Cheyenne
Wyoming
Wyoming--Cheyenne
United States
West (U.S.)
Subject
Law--United States
Constitutional law
Law offices--Wyoming--Cheyenne--19th century
Practice of law
Law
Law offices--19th century
Constitutional law--United States
Public lands--West (U.S.)
Elections--United States--1896
Indians of North America--Government relations
Elections--1896
Public lands
Practice of law--Wyoming--Cheyenne
Occupation
Lawyers
Jurists
Function

Person

Birth 1859-04-17

Death 1941-02-08

English

Information

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Ark ID: w6r5064n

SNAC ID: 60407892