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1980 Y.B. 30 (1980)
Profile of a Public Man

handle is hein.journals/jspcth1980 and id is 34 raw text is: 
30


William Moody


Profile of a Public Man

                  Paul T. Heffron


   In his seven years as President, Theodore
Roosevelt appointed three men to the Supreme
Court:  Oliver Wendell  Holmes   Jr., William
Rufus   Day,   and  William  Henry   Moody.
Holmes  is a legendary figure. Day is known to
diplomatic historians for his service as President
McKinley's  Secretary of State, and has been the
subject of a judicial biography.' Moody in con-
trast has been buried in obscurity.
   Taking his seat on the Court in 1906 at age
fifty-three, Moody   could  have   reasonably
looked  forward to a tenure of fifteen to twenty
years. In less than four full terms, however, his
public career came  to a tragic end. A break-
down   of the  central nervous system turned
Moody   into a helpless cripple, forcing him to
retire in 1910. For seven years he lived on in his
Haverhill, Massachusetts, home;  in  his own
words  as one of the crucified dead.' Despite
a  distinguished career in state and national
politics as district attorney, Congressman and
Cabinet  member,   the  Boston  Herald  com-
mented  editorially at the time of his death:
Many   people who  read in the newspapers of
his  death  yesterday morning  doubtless ex-
pressed to themselves surprise that he was still
living, if indeed they remembered him at all.
   Moody,   of course, is only one  of many
Justices neglected by historians. Of the more
than  100 men  who  have sat on the Court, a
comparatively small number have been the sub-
jects of full length studies. Various reasons
account  for this gap in our legal history; brief
service on the Court is certainly one of them.
With  rare exceptions, said Felix Frankfurter,
the great reputations on that Court have been
partly a function of time.4 It was Frankfurter's
opinion that in the history of the Court, only
three Justices who had served short tenures left
a  lasting impression: Benjamin   R.  Curtis,
Benjamin  N. Cardozo, and William H. Moody.I


              The  Early Years
The  social origins of judges is a subject of in-
terest to scholars. Like his judicial brother
Holmes,  Moody's  roots ran deep into the New
England  soil. He was in a direct line of descent
from  William Moody,  who  with a small band
of Puritans founded Newbury,  Massachusetts,
in 1635.6 Throughout  the 17th and 18th cen-
turies the family name was imprinted on the
religious and educational institutions of frontier
New  England communities. His branch had re-
mained  in Newbury,  however, as simple dirt
farmers and were  not prominent. Here in the
200 year old family farm house in the Byfield
parish section of the town  he was born  on
December  23, 1853, to Henry Lord and Melissa
Emerson  Moody.  His earliest recollections were
wearing a Lincoln-Hamlin  badge, working on
his father's dairy farm in neighboring Danvers,
and  delivering milk in Salem. The family was
neither rich nor poor, he said, but of sufficient
means  to send him  to the best schools New
England   could  offer. They  were  Phillips
Academy   in Andover and Harvard College.
     Moody   studied classics at Andover for
three years and  entered Harvard College in
1872. He was an indifferent student, barely sur-
viving the first two years. In his junior year he
began courses with Henry Adams. This experi-
ence transformed his intellectual life. Inspired
by Adams'  seminar in medieval institutions, he
wrote a  thesis and received honors at com-
mencement  in 1876.
  In his Harvard Class Lives Moody wrote: I
shall probably study law.I He enrolled in Har-
vard  Law  School  in September,  1876, but
withdrew abruptly in January to take up an ap-
prenticeship in the Boston law office of Richard
Henry  Dana, author of Two  Years Before the
Mast, and a founder of the Free Soil Party in
Massachusetts. Probably he saw this route as a

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