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Bushrod Washington by Henry Benbridge, 1783. Bequest of Margaret Chew, 1972 [H-2620]

The Supreme Court Historical Society and the Washington Presidential Library are joining together to present two lectures focused on George Washington, the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the nation's founding.

This segment, taking place in the Court Chamber, features the first biography of George Washington's extraordinary nephew, who inherited Mount Vernon and was Chief Justice John Marshall's right-hand man on the Supreme Court for nearly thirty years.

A reception with complimentary beer, wine, and hors-d'oeuvres will take place after the lecture. Tickets are available only as a two-lecture package.

The Supreme Court Lecture Series is SOLD OUT.

This event is made possible through a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Lewis E. Lehrman.

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2-Lecture Series:
In-person: $150 per person


May 1:
Supreme Court of the United States

October 8:
Washington Library's Rubenstein Leadership Hall

Supreme Court Lecture Series

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Washington's Heir: The Life of Justice Bushrod Washington

George Washington's nephew and heir was a Supreme Court Justice for over thirty years and left an indelible mark on American law. Despite his remarkable life and notable lineage, he is unknown to most Americans because he cared more about establishing the rule of law than about personal glory.

Gerard N. Magliocca gives us the first published biography of Bushrod Washington, one of the most underrated Founding Fathers. Born in 1762, Justice Washington fought in the Revolutionary War, served in Virginia's ratifying convention for the Constitution, and was Chief Justice John Marshall's partner in establishing the authority of the Supreme Court. Though he could only see from one eye, Justice Washington wrote many landmark decisions defining the fundamental rights of citizens and the structure of the Constitution, including Corfield v. Coryell--an influential source for the Congress that proposed the Fourteenth Amendment. As George Washington's personal heir, Bushrod inherited both Mount Vernon and the family legacy of owning other people, one of whom was almost certainly his half-brother or nephew. Yet Justice Washington alone among the Founders was criticized by journalists for selling enslaved people and, in turn, issued a public defence of his actions that laid bare the hypocrisy and cruelty of slavery.

An in-depth look at Justice Washington's extraordinary story that gives insight into his personal thoughts through his own secret journal, Washington's Heir sheds new light not only on George Washington, John Marshall, and the Constitution, but also on America's ongoing struggle to become a more perfect union.

Gerard N. Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law. His areas of expertise include torts, constitutional law, intellectual property, legal history, and admiralty. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford and his law degree from Yale, and he joined the IU faculty after two years at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. He is the author of The Heart and the Constitution (2018); America’s Favorite Son (2016); The Tragedy of William Jennings Bryan (2014); and Andrew Jackson and the Constitution (2007).

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