Ulysses S. Grant Appoints the First Ever Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court

"I have nominated and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate do appoint him to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Wyoming"

Because of Wyoming’s location at the intersection of the Louisiana Purchase, the Oregon Country, and the Mexican Cession, the land which became Wyoming has a complicated history of territorial relationships. Portions of the territory, which eventually fell under Wyoming’s jurisdiction, were at various points associated with the territories of Washington, Oregon, Idaho,...

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Ulysses S. Grant Appoints the First Ever Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court

"I have nominated and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate do appoint him to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Wyoming"

Because of Wyoming’s location at the intersection of the Louisiana Purchase, the Oregon Country, and the Mexican Cession, the land which became Wyoming has a complicated history of territorial relationships. Portions of the territory, which eventually fell under Wyoming’s jurisdiction, were at various points associated with the territories of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Dakota, Nebraska, and Utah, and had previously belonged to the independent states of Great Britain, France, Spain, Mexico, and Texas.

The Territory of Wyoming was organized as an incorporated territory of the United States from July 25, 1868, until July 10, 1890, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Wyoming. Cheyenne was the territorial capital.

John Homer Howe was born on September 12, 1822 in Riga, New York. He was a lawyer in Ohio, a lawyer and judge in Illinois and a Civil War general.

In 1868 officials began the process of organizing the judicial structure of the independent territory. In 1869, the first ever Chief Justice of the Supreme Court there took his seat – and Grant chose Howe. This is his very appointment.

Document signed, April 6, 1869, appointing John H. Howe to be the “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Wyoming.” In office, Howe insisted that women be entitled to serve as jurors in the Territory. Susan B. Anthony cited him with approval for setting important precedent (see “The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony”).

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