Bushrod Washington

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Bushrod Washington
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
In office
December 20, 1798 – November 26, 1829
Preceded by James Wilson
Succeeded by Henry Baldwin
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Personal details
Born June 5, 1762
  Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died November 26, 1829 (aged 67)
  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Resting place Mount Vernon
Residence(s) {{{residence}}}
Education Studied law under George Wythe and James Wilson
Alma mater College of William & Mary
Profession Judge
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Signature [[File:{{{signature}}}|left|200px]]

Bushrod Washington (1762 – 1829), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and nephew of George Washington, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia to John and Hannah Washington.[1] He was named after the Bushrod family, one of the first families of Virginia, of which his mother was a member.[2] He received his early education under the guidance of a tutor in the home of Richard Henry Lee, a prominent Virginian and eventual Declaration of Independence signer.[3] Washington gained admittance to the College of William & Mary in 1775 and graduated in 1778.[4] He returned two years later to study under the newly appointed law professor, George Wythe.[5] During this period Washington became acquainted with John Marshall, a fellow Wythe student.[6] Although it is unclear how long Washington studied law under Wythe, records indicate that by December 1780, he was no longer at William & Mary.[7] In 1781, Washington became a private in the Continental Army, and was present at Yorktown for Cornwallis' surrender later that year.[8]

In 1782, Washington departed for Philadelphia to continue his legal education as an apprentice under James Wilson, a distinguished attorney and future member of the United States Supreme Court.[9] He returned to Virginia in 1784, was admitted to the bar, and started practicing in Alexandria, Virginia.[10] In 1787 Washington was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and earned a seat in the Virginia State Convention the following year.[11] In 1790, he moved to Richmond because of the demands of his growing practice.[12]

In 1798, President John Adams appointed Washington to the Supreme Court to replace the seat vacated by the death of Justice James Wilson, his former mentor.[13] Washington served on the Court until his death in 1829.[14] His twenty-eight years on the Marshall Court was longer than any of his colleagues.[15] John Marshall was a close friend of Washington’s, and the two generally agreed on constitutional issues.[16] Washington was a "diligent student of the law" and possessed the admirable judicial traits of being "mild and conciliatory" by nature yet "prompt and firm in decision."[17] Washington is buried at Mount Vernon, the estate he had inherited from his uncle George Washington.[18]


  1. George W. Goble, "Bushrod Washington," in Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964), 10:315.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. David Leslie Annis, "Mr. Bushrod Washington, Supreme Court Justice on the Marshall Court" (PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 1974), 26.
  6. Ibid., 27.
  7. Ibid., 29.
  8. Ibid., 31.
  9. Ibid., 34.
  10. George W. Goble, "Bushrod Washington," 508.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid., 509.
  15. David Leslie Annis, "Mr. Bushrod Washington," 2.
  16. Ibid., 3.
  17. George W. Goble, "Bushrod Washington," 509.
  18. Ibid.