Benjamin Robbins Curtis

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Curtis, Benjamin Robbins,

1809–74, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1851–57), b. Watertown, Mass. After studying law at Harvard, he practiced at Northfield, Mass., and served in the state legislature. Appointed to the Supreme Court by President Fillmore, he wrote one of the two dissenting opinions in the Dred Scott CaseDred Scott Case,
argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856–57. It involved the then bitterly contested issue of the status of slavery in the federal territories. In 1834, Dred Scott, a black slave, personal servant to Dr. John Emerson, a U.S.
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 and resigned from the court because of the bitter feelings engendered by the case. One of the nation's leading lawyers, he was chief counsel to Andrew Johnson at the President's impeachment trial.


See biography by his son B. R. Curtis (1879, repr. 1970), which includes a memoir by G. T. Curtis.