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John Marshall Harlan, 1877-1911

JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN was born in Boyle County, Kentucky, on June 1, 1833. He was graduated from Centre College in 1850 at the age of seventeen. Harlan studied law at Transylvania University for two years and read law in his father’s law office. In 1853, he was admitted to the bar and began to practice law. In 1858, Harlan served for one year as Franklin County Judge. He ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1859 but was narrowly defeated. During the Civil War, Harlan joined the Union Army and served as an officer. In 1863, Harlan resigned his commission and was elected Attorney general of Kentucky, serving for four years. He was the Republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky in 1875. President Rutherford B. Hayes nominated Harlan to the Supreme Court of the United States on October 17, 1877. The Senate confirmed the appointment on November 29, 1877. While on the Court, Harlan was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 to represent the United States in the arbitration with Great Britain over fishing rights in the Bering Sea. Harlan served on the Supreme Court for thirty-four years, a tenure exceeded by only four other Justices. He died on October 14, 1911, at the age of seventy-eight.

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