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 John Blair

John Blair

Birth
Williamsburg, Williamsburg City, Virginia, USA
Death 31 Aug 1800 (aged 68)
Williamsburg, Williamsburg City, Virginia, USA
Burial Williamsburg, Williamsburg City, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 4426 · View Source
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US Supreme Court Justice, Signer of US Constitution. He was a member of a prominent Virginia family who held several roles in their colony, including acting Royal Governor. After studying in England, he returned to Virginia where he practiced law and following in his family's footsteps, became involved in public service by serving in the House of Burgesses from 1766 to 1770 and becoming the clerk of the Royal Governor's Council from 1770 to 1775. He originally considered himself a moderate in regards to the Patriot cause initially opposing Patrick Henry's more radical stances. However, when Britain abolished the House of Burgesses his views changed and he became a more outspoken opponent of the heavy taxes levied by Parliament , soon joining the call for an establishment of a Continental Congress. In 1776 he was one of the leader's who helped author Virginia's Constitution and set up the new state's system of government. In 1778 the state legislature elected him to a seat on the general court. He rose to a position on the Court of Appeals where he helped make judgments that were later used to insure the separation of powers in this new nation. He was appointed to the Constitution Convention in Philadelphia where publicly he did not participate. But he became a key member of the Virginia delegation when the issue of how the nation was to elect a President was debated. He helped "tilt the scale" in his state's delegation when he switched his allegiance from those who wanted Congress to elect the President to join George Washington and James Madison who advocated an election by the people. In 1789 President Washington appointed him to the US Supreme Court. He sat on the Court until 1796. He was a strict constructionist who searched the constitution diligently when faced with tough decisions. During one case he could not find, in the Constitution, an answer to the question of whether a private citizen had the right to sue a state. His concerns helped lead to the establishment of the Eleventh Amendment which declared that states were immune from citizens' lawsuits. Always concerned about the separation of powers he successfully fought Congress in 1792 when they passed a law giving them the power to review certain judicial decisions. He resigned from the bench in 1796 and returned to his hometown Williamsburg, Virginia where he died four years later.

Bio by: Bigwoo


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Feb 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4426
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Blair (Oct 1731–31 Aug 1800), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4426, citing Bruton Parish Episcopal Church Cemetery, Williamsburg, Williamsburg City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .