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Edward Douglas White


The ninth chief justice of the United States of America is a man of many controversies and dramatically occurrences in his life. Edward Donald white lived with controversies from the beginning of his early life to the time when he dies. It is important to note here that the chief justice was a man of not only controversial life but also had many opportunities in life which he never let go whenever they presented themselves (O'rneil, 1950). This biographical paper explores the nature of the life the ninth chief justice of America passed through. A close analysis is also given on the account of what remarkable events he undertook or the decisions he made which influenced and continues to influence people even in the current world.

Early life

Edward Douglas White was born in the year 1845 to the former governor of Louisiana Edward Douglas White Snr in a very vibrant family of rich political history. Both of his paternal and maternal grandparents were people who were already very famous in the state of Louisiana leadership (LIFE , 1937). He was the grandson of the famous physician and judge for parental grandfather. He was also a relation of the famous Lee family for the maternal grandmother. Though his father was a politician, he was also a business man, who owned large tracks of sugarcane plantations and refined the canes to sugar in the same farm before selling some to the markets. That is where he influenced White junior to have the love for their state farm and the sugar industry from the whole of Louisiana.

Following the parents footsteps, White Jnr. was a staunch Roman Catholic for his religion. He grew up under the same doctrines and was finally settled in life in the same faith. It is important to note that White later became one of the few Roman Catholics who rose to become the chief justice of the United States of America. White got married to his one wife Virginia Montgomery Kent in the year 1894, when he was appointed for the second time to the Supreme Court.

In the American civil war

Other studies show that young White accompanied a close ally to the leader of the forces called the general W.N.R. Bell. They thus went to port Hudson where the soldiers were, but they were besieged for two months from the month of May to the month of July. It is being said that it was one of the longest sieges ever to have been recorded in the history of America. The soldiers of the general had surrendered and many of them were captured as captives but again Justice White has no records of arrest at port Hudson (Wright, 2002). In fact, reports give an account of how he spent his post siege life by taking part in the debates and luncheons discussions which his ally, the confederate W. Beall had attended with him. However, much is not known how he manages to escapes the arrest.

Educational background

White lived in the world for a period of seventy five years, having died in the year 1921. During the period, he did so much which can be noted long after he had gone (Heyer, Rozell, & Geno, 2008). That is to mean, he left a long legacy. He was born to a sugar cane farmer, governor, judge and a physician, white the senior in a vibrant family in the year 1845 (O'rneil, 1950).  He then proceeded to lean in Jesuit collage that was in New Orleans, then proceeded to mount St Mary's college and later graduated from the Georgetown universality with a degree in law. On his release, white went ahead to take his further studies in the faculty of law. This he did in New Orleans under the guidance of Edward Bermudez.

Politics in White's life

On completion, White got interested in politics and the first appointment he got in the career was by becoming a political ally and lieutenant of the Louisiana state governor called Nicholls Francis who was by then happened to be the leader in the state of Louisiana. As a friend, Nicholls rewarded him with the post of being a lieutenant, at the backdrop of suspicions that his mother who was still alive by the time and had re -married and was re united the family. After which, he was appointed to the supreme court in the state by his political affiliate, the governor Nicholls. It is a fact that the governor was the person who introduced White to the field of politics and justice. He worked very closely with Nicholls for a very long time in his life as a young professor.

Political career

As a political appointee, his presence in the position did not take long. He was in the position for only two years from the year 1878 to the year 1880 when his big man Nicholls was politically defeated to defend his position in the state governor. The new incoming office in the year 1880 saw all the political appointees of the previous regime vacating their highly cherished offices, and white was not an exception, he had to let off go the post, though he had assimilated the work an presumed that it would be long lasting for his career.

All in all, white never lost the hope. On execution from the office, white sought refuge in the rather very important and lucrative practice of the attorney in the state of Louisiana. This continued for period of about eight years when his big man, Nicholls, relinquished his previous position as the state governor in the year 1888. Similarly, the old officers had to vacate the offices, White was brought back to book but this time round, he was given even a higher position of the state janitor to represent Louisiana. The promotion in the office he held in the second round of Nicholls reign would should how close White was to the governor. He held this position for three years.

White had a lot for passion for his state of Louisiana and was always looking for the ways to protect the state fro external influence. He particularly wanted to protect the sugar industry in the state. At one point therefore, in the year 1894 when he was re- appointed the high court, he was so reluctant to take the position as he was considering the move would divert his attention from the state of his choice (Heyer, Rozell, & Geno, 2008). The main point of interest white had in the state was to shell it off from the government taxation. Reports show that he was so enthusiastic about this because he was trying to protect their farm from external taxation by the government.

However, as more and more studies would reveal, White was a selfless leader who was always for the truth and for the right and just actions to be undertaken. He thereof sided with the minority to defend the state from being taxed by the government not because of the sugar farm, but because of interest he had to help the humanity. The voting continued and they lost the votes with a small margin as his side got four votes and the other side won with five votes. After loosing the votes to the majority of five to their minority of four, he was not satisfied and thus launched a rebellion and finally succeeded.

In the Louisiana state, Justice White gained great fame following his bid to stop and end the high level of corruption which was taking place in the state. This came in the form of Louisiana lottery, and using the law, he filed a case in the Supreme Court which he worn and the lottery was declared stopped. He was a man whom could thus be considered to be selfless, caring and one who had the community welfare and development in his mind. In many cases, he always worked for the common good, sometimes referred to as the public social advantage.

In the field of justice

Edward white was appointed to be the ninth chief justice, to succeed the late Melville Fuller by the then republican president William Howard Taft. His appointment to this particular post raised a lot of eyebrow because of various reasons, first and foremost, white was a democrat and the president was a republican in terms of the political parties views held. Many republicans did not expect such cross appointment at the death of the eighth republican chief justice Melville Fuller. Secondly, that was the very rare occasions in the history of America that an associate justice was being promoted to such a post. At that time, political analysts saw that the move was for the incumbent president, Taft to prepare his own way to the corridors of justice.

The point was that the president saw White as an obese and so he though that White would not remain in the office for a very long time. In truth, such prediction came to pass and that saw Taft to be the successor of White in the office of chief justice in America. However, the people, both the republicans and the democrats put aside their differences and justice white did his duties very well till his time came to a close. At the same point, White was able to make a history as the first democrat to work in such a lucrative post as that of the chief justice under the government which headed by the republicans (Abraham, 1999).

His tenure in office

During his tenure as the ninth American chief Justice, White did many things and left an elaborate legacy. During this time, White wrote various literature materials to uphold the Adamson's views that authorized the railway workers to work for only up to eight hours per day.  This was one of the publications which gave him a lot of fame for the start. Justice White also wrote articles called the Guinn vs. the United States. This article saw the invalidation the Maryland and Oklahoma grandfather clauses in the constitution in 1915. Most importantly, Justice White founded the 'rule of the reason'

Apart from his writings and publications, justice white also did his duty very well as the chief justice. Notably, the justice white swore in two presidents into the US presidents. These included the Warren Harding and Woodrow Wilson whom he swore into the office twice (Abraham, 1999). When Justice White vacated the offices, he was followed to the same office by the president who appointed him to the same office, President Howard Taft. Similarly, this was another history White made in his work as the only chief justice who had ever been succeeded into the office by the same president who appointed him to that same office.

The standard oil case

Justice White made a number of contributions to the field of law. A practical example is in the case of the standard oil and the United States. The scenario took place in the month of May in the year 1911. It involved the standard oil which was to be dissolved under the laws of Sherman act of the antitrust. So the law courts had declared the standard oil to be dissolved but then they appealed to the Supreme Court where Justice White handled the case himself. It is important to note that the kind of interpretation justice white gave out on the same case would still remain in the American books of history. He resorted to the common statutory law which outlined the fact that what the law covered under the Sherman antitrust laws was the unreasonable cases only. He then ruled otherwise in favor of the standard oil, but the judge directed otherwise too making him lose the case.

However, the contributions of interpretation which Justice White made in the case of the standard oil, though he lost acted s an eye opener on the constitutional matters. The America people were therefore able to see how they were using their laws to fight themselves and to discourage their own growth. The people thus developed various debates about the same laws and this saw the subsequent formation of acts to review the Sherman antitrust act. In the late cases therefore, the opinions of justice white were then used greatly to interpret the laws of the antitrust. At the same time, the people saw the sense of having flexibility in the process of interpreting the law to help in covering for the areas where there would be need of small modifications for the benefit of the public (O'rneil, 1950). 

Rule of Reason

Justice Edwards White will ever remain in the history books of the Americans following his proposals on the ideas of the rule of reason. This rule came about the same case for the standard oil analyzed. It is important to take note that the rule of reason through the pubic view of facts was very important. In the later developments and other versions of the rule, the rule which Justice White proposed have found application even in other areas of us justice. It has been used to cover other areas on the issues of businesses forming unfair associations and cartels to exploit their prospective consumers. More over, the same concept of the law interpretation has been use far and wide even outside the US boundaries. The rule has also been applied to cover group boycotts and the refusal to negotiations as the unethical ways of unfair business practices.

Justice White died in his office I the year 1921 and was buried in the Washington DC in the cemetery of the oak hills. To this date, there are two statues of the great chief justice White, one being the major work of honor in the Louisiana National Statuary Hall and another one in the New Orleans supreme courts. People still respect the chief justice to the point of even believing that going round his statue in the anti clockwise direction could keep on off the bad omens.


From the above brief bibliography, it can be seen that the Edwards was a man of great works. Out of his wisdom, his strengths and his opportunities, Justice White was able to deliver the required results not only for the generation of his lifetime but even for the current regimes. It is imperatives to note here the ideas proposed by Edwards White Jnr. are still very practical and many countries have been able to put them to the proper uses.

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