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James McReynolds

James McReynolds


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James McReynolds was born in Elkton, Kentucky, on 3rd February, 1862. He was admitted to the bar in 1884 and practiced law in Nashville, Tennessee.

McReynolds became professor of law at Vanderbilt University before being appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as assistant attorney general (1903-07). He also served as special counsel to the attorney general (1907-12) under Roosevelt and William Taft.

In 1913 President Woodrow Wilson appointed McReynolds as his attorney general. The following year he joined the Supreme Court. McReynolds was considered to be a liberal by Wilson but he became increasingly conservative. He was a staunch anti-Semite and always refused to sit or stand next to Louis Brandeis at meetings.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic Party candidate, was elected as president in 1932. Over the next few years McReynolds and the other justices who were supporters of the Republican Party, ruled against the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and ten other New Deal laws.

On 2nd February, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech attacking the Supreme Court for its actions over New Deal legislation. He pointed out that seven of the nine judges (Willis Van Devanter, Charles Hughes, George Sutherland, Owen Roberts, Harlan Stone, Pierce Butler and Benjamin Cardozo) had been appointed by Republican presidents. Roosevelt had just won re-election by 10,000,000 votes and resented the fact that the justices could veto legislation that clearly had the support of the vast majority of the public.

Roosevelt suggested that the age was a major problem as six of the judges were over 70 (McReynolds, Willis Van Devanter, Charles Hughes, Owen Roberts, Louis Brandeis and George Sutherland). Roosevelt announced that he was going to ask Congress to pass a bill enabling the president to expand the Supreme Court by adding one new judge, up to a maximum off six, for every current judge over the age of 70.

Charles Hughes realised that Roosevelt's Court Reorganization Bill would result in the Supreme Court coming under the control of the Democratic Party. His first move was to arrange for a letter written by him to be published by Burton Wheeler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. In the letter Hughes cogently refuted all the claims made by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, behind the scenes Charles Hughes was busy doing deals to make sure that Roosevelt's bill would be defeated in Congress. On 29th March, Owen Roberts announced that he had changed his mind about voting against minimum wage legislation. Hughes also reversed his opinion on the Social Security Act and the National Labour Relations Act (NLRA) and by a 5-4 vote they were now declared to be constitutional.

Willis Van Devanter, probably the most conservative of all the justices, announced his intention to resign. He was replaced by Hugo Black, a member of the Democratic Party and a strong supporter of the New Deal. In July, 1937, Congress defeated the Court Reorganization Bill by 70-20. However, Roosevelt had the satisfaction of knowing he had a Supreme Court that was now less likely to block his legislation.

James McReynolds, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1941, died in Washington, on 24th August, 1946.


Talk:James Clark McReynolds

I have added more instances of McReynolds rude behavior to some of his Court brethren, as well as a comment by Taft on his general unpleasantness. I got this information from Henry J. Abraham's "Justices, Presidents, and Senators: A History of the U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Clinton", New and Revised Edition, Rowman & LIttlefield, 1999. If people think this is somewhat excessive, feel free to trim. Magidin 01:25, September 13, 2005 (UTC)

I may take a whack at it after I do some work on a similar William O. Douglas section, since the unpleasantness section currently reads more like an academic paper than an encylopedia entry and net net, really shouldn't be more prominent than an analysis of his opinions (which given his role as one of the Four Horsemen should be expanded). Old64mb 20:19, 10 June 2007 (UTC) The article is unbalanced as too much content is devoted to his abrasive personality and personal opinions. He was a productive Justice despite this. There is not a similar amount of content devoted to personalities of other Justices. Needs to be edited, and overlaps especially deleted.Parkwells (talk) 15:34, 10 August 2018 (UTC) Feel free to add material on his jurisprudence. McReynolds has a lot of space devoted to the conflicts he caused within the Court because this was a notable facet of his service in the Court: Taft and others commented on it, both in private and in public. No similar accounts exist for other Justices (or, if they do, they need to be added). Balance does not require that he be treated the same as everyone else, or that the content here be equally balanced both in favor and against it requires that the content here accurately reflect the emphasis and the content that exists "out there" (from, of course, verifiable and reliable sources). Magidin (talk) 16:08, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

According to this reference (PDF) from the official website of the Supreme Court, McReynolds started his term of office on October 12, 1914. I will be changing the text to match shortly.

According to the same reference, McReynolds ended his term of office on January 31, 1941.

I added a lot of the trivia on the general unpleasantness of McReynolds to the article, based on both the "Oxford Guide to the Supreme Court", and Abraham's book quoted above. Recently, user User 68.5.250.146 has been removing them. He first called them "unsubstantiated allegations". I incorrectly refered to the Oxford Guide, and then after they were removed again, verified them in Abraham's book. In his recent revert, he claims the quotes are not provided in that book, calling it "slander." I have asked him on his talk page why he claims the quote is not there I would also ask for his comments in this talk page, as a first step in dispute resolution. Magidin 13:56, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Here are quotes from sundry sources in extenso, including the passage in question, to justify their inclusion in the article also justifying the assertion that he was an anti-semite and not merely "accused" of being one by "his critics." From The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States edited by Kermit L. Hall, 1992, in the article on McReynolds (pp. 542-543):

As a person, McReynolds was often rude, impatient, and sarcastic. He detested tobacco and prohibited others from smoking in his presence. His attitudes towards women, especially female attorneys, were likewise intolerant. Perhaps one of his least endearing characteristics was his thoroughgoing anti-Semitism, which preventedd him from being civil to his Jewish Brethren Brandeis and Cardozo.

From Justices, Presidents, and Senators. A History of the U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Clinton, New and Revised Edition, by Henry J. Abraham Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, 1999. Chapter 8, pp. 133-135 (internal citations omitted):

James Clark McReynold's record and antics during his ensuing 27 years on the Court are legion. Politically and jurisprudentially, the lifelong bachelor, a confirmed mysogynist, came to embrace a philosophy of reaction to progress second to none, and in his personal demeanor on the bench was a disgrace to the Court. Manifesting blatant anti-Semitism, McReynolds refused to speak to Brandeis (the first Jew to sit on the Court) for three years following Brandeis's appointment, and he deliberately absented himself from Brandeis's retirement testimonial at the Court in 1939. He was only somewhat less obnoxious in his behavior to the gentle Benjamin Cardozo, during whose swearing-in ceremony he pointedly read a newspaper, muttering "another one." According to one of his law clerks, McReynolds never spoke to Cardozo at all. In 1922, McReynolds refused to accompany the Court to Philadelphia on a ceremonial occasion because, as he wrote to the exasperated Chief Justice Taft: "As you know, I am not always to be found when there is a Hebrew abroad. Therefore, my 'inability' to attend must not surprise you." And because McReynolds would not sit next to Brandeis (where he then belongedd on the basis of seniority) for the Court's annual picture-taking session in 1924, Taft decided that no Court picture would be taken that year. On sundry occassions he would stalk from the conference table when Brandeis spoke, listening at the outside door until Brandeis finished, and then return to his seat. Nor would McReynolds sign the customary dedicatory letter sent routinely to all Court members on their retirement when that time came for Brandeis in 1939 nor would he attend Frankfurter's robing ceremonies ("My God, Another Jew on the Court!") earlier in 1939.

McReynolds also disliked Harlan Stone and his jurisprudence and carped about almost every opinion Stone wrote. When, on one occasion, Stone observed to McReynolds that a particular attorney's brief had been "the dullest argument" he had heard, McReynolds, in typically abrasive and tactless fashion, replied, "The only thing duller I can think of is to hear you read one of your opinions." Another one of his targets was the gentle John Hessin Clarke, whose voting record on the bench equally displeased him, especially becaused he had thought of Clarke as one of his protégés. Although McReynold's[sic] enmity was not decisive in Clarke's resignation from the Court in 1922, it clearly contributed to his resolve to leave. "McReynolds," he wrote to Woodrow Wilson, "as you know, is the most reactionary judge on the Court. There are many other things which had better not be set down in black and white." And ex-President Taft not only considered McReynolds weak, he regarded him as a selfish, prejudiced, bigoted person "and one who seems to delight in making others uncomfortable. He has no sense of duty! He is a continual grouch." After FDR entered the White House, McReynolds refused to attend receptions there and on one occasion would not stand when the president entered the room.

Justice McReynolds's bigoted personality became evidente quickly: he would not accept "Jews, drinkers, blacks, women, smokers, married or engaged individuals as law clerks" and, according to Justice Douglas, he once asked a black Supreme Court barber, "Tell me, where is this nigger university in Washington?" Douglas named a card game after McReynolds, which he entitled "Son of a Bitch." [. ]

Certainly, James Clark McReynolds desservedly earned the all but unanimous condemnation of the Court experts, who have rated him at the top of their brief list of failures.

The citations given by Abraham in the above text are: John Knox, A Personal Recollection of Justice Cardozo the letter to Taft and the photograph incident are referenced to William Howard Taft: Chief Justice by Alpheus Thomas Mason, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1965, note 26 and pp. 216-217. The exchange with Stone is quoted from Supreme Court Hiistorical Society Quaterly 6, (Winter 1983), pp. 6. Clarke's letter to Wilson in the same, pp. 167. Taft's comments are referenced to Mason's book, as well as Henry F. Pringle's The Life and Times of William Howard Taft (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1939). William O. Douglas's comments from his book The Court Years (1939-1975): The Autobiography of William O. Douglas, pp. 15 of the Random House, Vintage Books 1980 edition.

In the same book, when discussing Cardozo, Abraham writes (pp. 153):

Yet Hoover continued to demur he really did not want to appoint anyone, no matter how superbly and uniquely qualified he might be, from a state that already had two eminent "representatives" (Hughes - he had sent him there himself - and Stone) and whose religion (Jewish) was not only already "represented" on the Court (Brandeis), but would most assuredly cause McReynolds to act up again. (It did: The Supreme Court's resident bigot remarked that to become a justice one only had to be a Jew and have a father who was a crook, and he conspicuously buried himself in a newspaper at the swearing-in ceremony.)

This is attributed to Richard Polenberg, The World of Benjamin Cardozo: Personal Values and the Judicial Process, Harvard University Press, 1997, pp. 171.

In Closed Chambers, Penguin Books, 1999, Edward Lazarus writes (pp.284):

The view from the other side was, if anything, even more dismissive. McReynolds, the surliest of the old guard, was a thoroughgoing anti-Semite and for all practical purposes refused to speak to either Brandeis and Cardozo.

This is referenced to Arthur Schlesinger's The Politics of Upheaval, Houghton-Mifflin, 1960, pp. 455.

In David Atkinson's Leaving the Bench. Supreme Court Justices at the End, University Press of Kansas, 1999, discussing Brandeis's retirement (pp. 111):

Only Justice McReynolds refused to sign the letter of appreciation that the other justices sent to Brandeis when hee retired. (McReynolds had also previously absented himself from the memorial ceremonies held at the Supreme Court in honor of Justice Cardozo.)

This is quoted from the New York Times, 19 February 1939.

In short: the claim that the quote regarding his clerks is absent from Abraham's book is false. There is very clearly a consensus on McReynolds, coming from both people who disliked him and others such as his former clerk Knox. There is no doubt on his anti-Semitism: it is neither "alleged", nor a simple claim by "critics." I believe the statements as they existed before the current revert edits should stand. Magidin 21:46, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Magidin you have already materially misrepresented the contents of the sources to which you cite. Now you are admitting your fault but citing to a new source, which is not online to reference and check. How are we to believe you again after you miscited your sources in material ways before, unless we can see the source? Just take your word for it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.5.250.146 (talk) I incorrectly attributed in an Edit Summary months after making the addition. I correctly cited the sources when I added the material (as you can see in this very talk page), and have now provided full quotations, bibliography, and sources given in the bibliography for the quotes and facts. You asserted that the quote was not in Abraham was this the result of checking, or were you guessing? As for verifying a source that is not on-line, I believe libraries still exist. The quotes have been correctly sourced, and I have given ample evidence that McReynolds anti-semitism was far from simply an "accusation by his critics", which seems to be your position. Perhaps you can provide verifiable sources for your assertions? Magidin 14:48, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

A temporary subpage at User:Polbot/fjc/James Clark McReynolds was automatically created by a perl script, based on this article at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. The subpage should either be merged into this article, or moved and disambiguated. Polbot (talk) 15:32, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

A recent edit removed the entire Personality and conflicts section calling it hearsay and defamation. I've reinstated that section. I believe that the assertions are all properly sourced to reliable sources, primary, secondary, and tertiary I do not see how it can be called "hearsay" as for 'defamation', we are reporting what others have said and written about McReynolds in reliable sources, which as I understand the policies on biographies, is precisely what we are supposed to do. I would appreciate comments on whether the removal of the section was appropriate of course, editing the section, making it more objective, or bringing more sources to bear is welcomed, but I think the removal was improper and the justification was not appropriate. Magidin (talk) 14:49, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

It may be well sourced, but it's undue weight overshadows the article. McReynolds is notable for his decisions and they should be of greater length than scurrilious scuttlebutt regarding his personality conflicts. He may have been a disagreeable, ornery cuss, but he was first and foremost a supreme court justice. Benkenobi18 (talk) 08:16, 19 March 2012 (UTC) That is solved by providing further (well-sourced) information about decisions he may have been notable for. Magidin (talk) 14:42, 19 March 2012 (UTC) I agree with Magidin. Indeed, McReynolds interpersonal relationships on the court, his bigotry and his dyspeptic persona were an important part of him and his legacy. If you've got analysis of his decisions please feel free to beef that section up. 7&6=thirteen () 15:31, 19 March 2012 (UTC) I agree that both (all) aspects of what McReynolds is remembered for should be disucssed in detail in the article. It bears emphasis that McReynolds' disagreeable personality is not just an item of gossip, but itself had substantial impact on the history of the Court and thus of the country: among other things, some accounts say that Woodrow Wilson appointed McReynolds as a Justice in the first place in order to get him out of the Cabinet without antagonizing him and his supporters and the early retirement of one of McReynolds' colleagues (Justice Clarke) was, at least in part, directly attributed to Clarke's not wanting to work with him any more. Newyorkbrad (talk) 15:52, 19 March 2012 (UTC) This would be a good place to start concerning additions to the opinions section. Hall, Kermit L. (2005). "McReynolds, James Clark". The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Encyclopedia.com . Retrieved March 20, 2012 . Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help) 7&6=thirteen () 14:34, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

An anonymous editor attempted to remove a lot of the sourced commentary on McReynolds in the Demographics article, and then made substantial edits here. A lot of them seem reasonably good, but the referencing was ill-formatted and incomplete. I've patched the formatting, but don't have the time to go through converting the references to corrected templates. A few of the comments seemed irrelevant or inappropriate and I removed them (quoting Taft criticising Holmes, presumably as a way to blunt his criticism of McReynolds an incorrect comment on McReynolds sitting opposite Brandeis on the bench according to seniority being the source of the claim he refused to sit next to Brandeis, when in fact the claim was about the Court photograph, not the bench sitting order and an inserted line that changed a quote from a book). I'd appreciate it if someone else also takes a pass, and if someone with the time reformats the new references. Magidin (talk) 16:20, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

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James McReynolds - History

"John Knox was an earnest young man, fresh from Harvard Law School in 1936, who lucked his way into a Supreme Court clerkship&mdashonly 'luck' isn't quite the right word. What he did not realize until too late was that his new boss, Justice James C. McReynolds, was notorious within the court as an obnoxious grouch and as a racist and anti-Semite to boot. Mr. Knox's memoir of his clerkship, published now for the first time, offers a rare glimpse into the private world of the Supreme Court at a remarkable time in our history. &hellipJust a few months into his clerkship, Mr. Knox found that 'a chill was gradually descending on my spirits.' Little wonder. He went on to an undistinguished legal career. The memoir he left behind, though, is a fascinating achievement."&mdashDavid A. Price, The Wall Street Journal

"Fascinating.&hellipIf it is the semi-inside view of the Court in 1936-37 that brings readers to this book, it is the story of this bizarre mÉnage À quatre that will keep them hooked. The mean old judge, the ambitious but feckless secretary, the two mistreated but keenly watchful servants, all four contained within the walls of a spiffy yet cold and claustrophobic apartment&mdashit is a delicious combination, packed with drama, irony and drollery."&mdashJonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

"Had Balzac turned his wit on our nation's capital, the resulting novel might have been the story of John Knox.&hellipEccentric and exciting political and social history."&mdashJeff Greenfield, Harper's

"This book has novelistic force, like One L or The Paper Chase. It's about a weird quartet: the author, who is a nice young man, a bit of the obtuse narrator his boss, McReynolds, a kind of legal Bluebeard and the two black servants, who call McReynolds (behind his back of course) 'Pussywillow.' This is literature, rather than just history&mdashthe charm is in the telling."&mdashJudge Richard A. Posner

"This is American history and Supreme Court history written from the inside as a drama/comedy of people and manners. Most telling for me was the view of black Americans as they study, protect, and sometimes shake their heads at the powerful white people they know as flawed human beings."&mdashJuan Williams

Excerpts from
The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox
A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington
Edited by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow

John F. Knox was the secretary and law clerk to Justice James C. McReynolds of the United States Supreme Court during the term that President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to "pack" the Court, 1936-37. [1] Knox came to the job by an unusual route. He held two law degrees, including an LL.M. from Harvard, but he owed his appointment to a habit he began in high school&mdashwriting pen pal letters to celebrities. He began with Civil War veterans and proceeded to luminaries of the day such as Helen Keller, William Howard Taft, and Admiral Byrd. Even before law school, he established an on-going correspondence with members of the Supreme Court, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Benjamin N. Cardozo, and Willis Van Devanter. His most sustained correspondence was with Van Devanter, one of the conservative "Four Horsemen," as they were then called.

After years of exchanging letters, Knox finally screwed up the courage to ask Van Devanter for a job. Van Devanter retained a permanent secretary and clerk, but his colleague McReynolds suffered high turnover, and the justice recommended Knox. But what Knox thought was a dream job turned out to be a constant trial. McReynolds was a severe and distant man of intense passions and biases, including naked racial bigotry and anti-semitism. Ironically Knox developed his closest relationships in the McReynolds household with the Justice's two black servants, Harry Parker, the messenger and general factotum, and Mrs. Mary Diggs, the housekeeper and cook. Although the new Supreme Court building had been opened for a year, all but two of the justices maintained their old habits of working at home and attending the Court only for oral arguments and delivery of opinions.

Knox was seared by his year with McReynolds, and at mid-life began writing his memoirs, based on his daily diary, carbon copies of letters he had written, and his meticulous memory. After ten years of work he had a 978-page manuscript, which, despite constant effort, remained unpublished at his death in 1997. The memoir is unique: no other law clerk to a Supreme Court justice has documented the experience. Knox's work is a candid, sometimes naive, account of what might be called "Upstairs, Downstairs" at the Court during a politically tumultuous period in which the country and the Court were changing dramatically. The following excerpts are drawn from the book.

[September 18, 1936:] Harry then became quiet, looked at me intently for some moments and then decided to change the subject of conversation. He finally said, "Say, Mr. Knox, did you ever sort of notice anything different when you hear me talking to Mary?"

"Well," I replied, after a pause to collect my thoughts, "now that you mention it, I guess I did. Sometimes I hear you and Mary talking about funny things&mdashlike, for instance, pussy-willows and queens."

"That's just it," said Harry excitedly, "and Mary and me has now decided to initiate you into our secret!"

At this announcement I straightened up a bit in my chair and began to show more interest. "Secret?" I inquired, "You mean you want me to join a club or something?"

"Naw, it ain't nothing like that!" said Harry. "What I means is that once you is initiated, the three of us can talk about the Justice and all his friends without his knowing it or understanding us!"

"Indeed!" I declared with real interest. "I'm all ears. Just what do you have in mind?"

"Well, it's like this," said Harry triumphantly. "When Mary and me is getting dinner, the Justice often pokes his head in the kitchen door to give us some last minute instructions. Or he sometimes hears Mary and me talking when we is cleaning up the dining room or fixing for me to go to market. Now all the time the Justice thinks we is just talking about some of our no count colored friends, but we ain't at all. We is really talking about him and his friends!"

"Well, you don't say so," I countered. "But how do you talk about the Justice and his friends without his knowing it if he hears you?"

"That's easy," said Harry beaming, "and that's our secret. You see, we gives secret names to everybody. Take the Justice himself, for instance. We calls him 'Pussywillow'. Now his best lady friend is 'Madam Queen'&mdashthat's Mrs. [Camilla Hare] Lippincott."

"So that explains my hearing you two talk about pussywillows and queens!" I exclaimed. "Very clever, very clever indeed!"

"And now," Harry announced dramatically, "we have given you a name, too. You are going to be Mr. Shoefenicks. After this, when you hear that word you will know we are talking about you."

And so it came to pass that from that day forward I was always referred to in private by Harry and Mary as "Shoefenicks". Why they chose this name, or from whence it came, I was never to know. Nor did I ever question their selection of such a name. If the Justice, for instance, overheard Harry and Mary discussing Shoefenicks and whether he got sick after finding too many pussywillows yesterday, McReynolds must have wondered what sort of jungle dialect was being spoken in his presence.

Following this conversation, Harry began to refer at once to Justice McReynolds as "Pussywillow" in all subsequent conversation with me. Having been "taken into" the secret, I became a part of it at once. To this day McReynolds is, in reality, "Pussywillow" to me instead of "Mr. Justice". Several times, while serving as his secretary and law clerk, I narrowly avoided addressing him as "Pussywillow".

With the Justice, or rather "Pussywillow", gone to play golf, and it being a Friday, I continued my conversation with Harry in a leisurely manner. After a pause, during which I looked up toward Harry as I sat there at the typewriter, I said slowly, as if groping for words, "You know something, Harry. I think I'll call up Justice Brandeis and ask to meet him. He's not so busy now as he will be after the Court opens, and maybe he would have time to see me."

In one shattering moment, however, Harry's expression changed. His face took on a look almost of horror. "Justice Brandeis! Have you gone out of your mind?"

"Of course, Justice Brandeis. Why not? He's going to be 80 years old in November, and I'd like to meet him. Besides, his new secretary was at Harvard when I was there."

Harry made a helpless, dazed sort of gesture with his right hand, as he stood there in the doorway of my room, and he said, "Sometimes I think I never will be able to teach you nothing at all about Washington! Don't you know that we has absolutely no relations with Justice Brandeis?"

"What do you mean, we don't have any relations with him? Doesn't he come over here now and then to discuss cases that are up for decision?"

"Come over here?" exclaimed Harry in amazement. "Oh you got so much to learn! Of course, he never comes over here. Don't you realize that Justice Brandeis is Jewish?"

"Yes, but what about it?" I inquired innocently.

"Why," said Harry emphatically, "there's been only one Jewish fellow who ever got to come to this apartment, and he was Mr. Garfinckel who had the department store. You know, Garfinckel's downtown where they don't have no basement in the store."

In a tone of quiet sarcasm I said, "And how did Mr. Garfinckel ever get in here? Did he sell some merchandise wholesale to the Justice?"

This question caused Harry to pause for some moments before replying. "Say, maybe that was why he came here. I always did think it kind of funny like. Pussywillow sure don't like to buy nothing if he can get out of it, and even some of the furniture here was given to him. Take that Japanese screen, for instance. One of his lady friends sent us that a couple of years ago."

"Now Harry," I ventured, "do you really mean to say that the Justice, I mean Pussywillow, is at outs with Brandeis because he's Jewish. And does that mean Cardozo doesn't come over here either?"

Without replying to the first question, Harry immediately commented, "Now Justice Cardozo, he's a sort of special case. He couldn't come over here even if he wasn't Jewish because the Justice is real mad at him."

"Mad at Cardozo? What did he ever do to upset Pussywillow?"

"Well," said Harry thoughtfully. "It was some time ago&mdashsoon after Justice Cardozo came to Washington. Pussywillow wrote an opinion and circulated it around to the other eight Justices, as he was supposed to do, of course, but Cardozo went and made a suggestion or two about improving the wording of a few sentences. That was when he was real new to the Court, too, and Pussywillow had been here for many years. Well, Pussywillow never had no more to do with Cardozo after that, and I guess they're not even on speaking terms to this day."

"Oh Harry," I said, shaking my head slowly back and forth, "sometimes I wonder how these cases ever get decided at all. Is everybody mad at everybody else on the Supreme Court of the United States?"

[September 26, 1936:] The next morning my first glimpse of Justice McReynolds was when he summoned me to his study and rather impatiently shoved a letter across the desk in my direction. "Take care of this. Somebody wants my autograph. I've signed my name on a piece of paper here, and you can send it to this child. It's nonsense, that's what it is, wanting stranger's autographs&mdashand for what?"

This was my first introduction to a phenomenon that I was to see much of during the months to come&mdashrequests from strangers for the autograph of the Justice. It finally became rather burdensome to answer such requests by return mail and always accompany my answers with the autograph of the Justice. In the Spring of 1937 these requests became very numerous following President Roosevelt's attack upon the Supreme Court. Yet never once did I venture to suggest to McReynolds that the matter would be simplified if he would only give me 25 or 30 autographs at one time, which I could keep "in reserve" for future requests. "If I asked him to sign his name on pieces of paper that many times and all at once, I suppose he would fire me for sure!" I rationalized to myself.

There was, however, something intriguing about this very first request for an autograph. In fact, the next time Harry stopped by the door of my office that day to ask if the Justice or I had any errands for him, I showed Harry the letter. "Nobody ever asks for my autograph," he said with a chuckle. "Say, why don't you send him my signature, too, along with your autograph and the Justice's?" And at the very thought of such a thing, Harry threw back his head, smiled from ear to ear and gave a hearty laugh. McReynolds was at that time sitting in his study but not near enough to hear what we had been talking about. Yet almost immediately the buzzer on my desk began ringing with an insistent hissing sound. Grabbing my shorthand pad, I walked in at once to the Justice's study after throwing a knowing glance at Harry. He then turned and walked back toward the kitchen.

"I don't want to dictate any letter," McReynolds said rather impatiently, "but I do feel that this is the time to speak about one thing. I realize you are a Northerner who has never been educated or reared in the South, but I want you to know that you are becoming much too friendly with Harry. You seem to forget that he is a negro and you are a graduate of the Harvard Law School. And yet for days now, it has been obvious to me that you are, well, treating Harry and Mary like equals. Really, a law clerk to a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States should have some feeling about his position and not wish to associate with colored servants the way you are doing." And with a genuine sigh McReynolds continued, "Of course, you are not a Southerner, so maybe it's expecting too much of someone from Chicago to act like a Southerner, but I do wish you would think of my wishes in this matter in your future relations with darkies."

"Yes, sir," I said, in a low and almost inaudible voice. I then turned and left the room as the Justice indicated that he did not wish to discuss the matter further. Walking back to my office I sat down at the typewriter but began running my fingers absent-mindedly through my hair and saying to myself, "What's the matter with me anyway? Am I a coward or something? Why don't I march right back in there and tell him that I am a Southerner! Of course, I wasn't born down South, I never lived down South, and I know very little firsthand about the South. But, at least many of my ancestors were born in North Carolina and Virginia during the 1700's, my great-great grandfather was married in Warrenton, Virginia, after his return from the Revolutionary War, my grandfather was born in Richmond in 1833, and a small Confederate flag hangs on one of the walls in my home next to autographed pictures of Generals Lee and Beauregard. Why, I not only know many Confederate veterans personally, but I even know a member of General Robert E. Lee's staff. I'm not just a Northerner I'm a Southerner, too!" But on second thought I decided not to go back into the Justice's study and revive the conversation, and in fact he was destined never to know anything about my ancestors, the Confederate flag, or my Confederate friendships. Nor did Harry or Mary ever learn of this conversation of mine with the Justice.

[Late September, 1936, McReynolds cleared his throat and said:] "You asked me&mdashumph&mdashabout what advice I would give to someone just starting out to practice law."

"Oh yes, I remember," I replied hastily.

I turned suddenly in my chair and looked intently at the Justice. I had, in fact, not even had time to rise upon his entrance into the room and then wait until he indicated that I should be seated again. There also flashed through my mind the realization that he could never be quite at ease in the presence of his law clerk&mdashat least when he was talking to the clerk as "man-to-man". And somehow at that moment I felt a genuine burst of admiration for him, for I suddenly realized the care he had apparently taken in mulling over my question.

"I'm glad to see you are so earnest about the law," McReynolds said in a brusque sort of way. "You must be or you wouldn't have asked the question in the first place." Then with an almost inaudible sigh the Justice continued, "I think, first of all, that honesty and integrity are the most important things for a young lawyer to keep in mind. A man must have sound principles and stand by them these days, and he should not endorse every wild scheme that comes along. I suppose you know that Washington is full of impractical lawyers, and I must say that many of them seem to have come from Harvard. You might as well realize right now that I think the Harvard Law School is highly overrated!"

McReynolds drew a long breath and then continued. "I also hope that you did not come under the influence of Frankfurter when you were in law school. There was some doubt in my mind about Justice Van Devanter's selection of any law clerk who graduated from a school where Frankfurter teaches. He is certainly one man not to be trusted! Even though he is dangerous to the welfare of this country, he evidently has a powerful influence at the White House."

"I only had Professor Frankfurter for one class at Harvard," I managed to reply. "There were about two hundred students in that class, and I am sure he did not even know that I existed." I was just about to add, however, that I did consider Frankfurter a very stimulating and interesting professor, but on second thought I decided to remain silent on this point.

"But with or without Frankfurter's help," the Justice continued, "the present administration has made many mistakes. Now just suppose we review a few of them. I was a Democrat when I was appointed to the Court, but I must recognize this administration for what it is. It began, for instance, by repudiating the campaign platform of 1932. That was the first betrayal. Then it recognized Soviet Russia. Imagine restoring diplomatic relations with that country! Justice Van Devanter was over there last year, and he even saw pregnant women working on the railroads in section gangs. And yet the Communists propose to infiltrate their ideas throughout the world. And Roosevelt recognizes them and installs the Soviets in the old embassy of the Czars right here on Sixteenth Street!"

I remained silent, fascinated by the flow of conversation that I had so unwittingly released. "Shortly after we recognized soviet Russia," McReynolds continued, "we took another step down the road to Socialism and the destruction of states' rights!"

"What happened?" I ventured to suggest.

"Why a large bureaucracey began to mushroom here in Washington, and with this growth in the Federal government there has been a greater and greater centralization of power in this city. And another thing! Before he was elected the President pledged that he would cut government expenditures by, I believe, twenty-five per cent. The national debt then stood at about 21 billion dollars. But the President did just the opposite of what he had pledged himself to do. In fact, he has squandered money so fast that Congress last year had to enact a law making 45 billion dollars the national debt limit. Imagine 45 billion dollars! Why this is a sum so vast that it cannot even be comprehended!"

I could not imagine the sum of 45 billion dollars, either, except to assume that if this amount was all in dollar bills they would probably reach from Washington to the moon.

"I remember reading about your dissenting views in the gold clause cases last year," I next said.

At this statement McReynolds' eyes began flashing, and memories crowded upon him with ever increasing rapidity. "We were assured that this country would not be taken off the gold standard! [2] Not only Roosevelt promised that but also Garner and even Carter Glass. But these promises were repudiated! The dollar was depreciated to sixty cents. This meant that mortgages were depreciated, as were bank deposits and insurance funds. I want you to realize that this Administration has deliberately sought to repudiate its national obligations and to confiscate private rights. As I said last year, when the gold cases were decided, this can only lead to the moral and financial breakdown of the country!"

"What do you think the results of the Schechter decision [invalidating the administration's National Industrial Recovery Act] have been?" I next suggested.

"Well," McReynolds continued, "for one thing businessmen throughout the country have become more and more confident because of the Court's decision in that case. The decision stimulated industry, which had been hampered by the N.R.A. laws." And then after a momentary pause McReynolds said, "But I guess I have strayed a little from the subject! I just want you to realize, however, that if it were not for the Court this country would go too far down the road to Socialism ever to return. We have been at the crossroads for several years, and it is our great misfortune to have a man as President who ignores the Constitution and dominates a weak and politically-minded Congress. A man like Roosevelt can do great harm to this country, but I feel that the worst is now over. And so, getting back to what advice I would give you, let me see, well I think a young lawyer should make all the contacts that he can&mdashbut in sincerity, of course. They will help him in building up a clientele later on. He should also be able to analyze the merits or defects of each individual judge before whom he may practice. This will be of great aid to him throughout his legal career."

There was another momentary pause, and McReynolds now seemed to be groping for something to say next. Then he suddenly blurted out, "Also don't be a bachelor! I think a lawyer can be more successful as a general rule if he has a wife and family to work for. They will keep him alert and on his toes, and there will be the companionship of his wife through the years. And another thing! Don't ever wear a red tie. It is much too effeminate for a lawyer to do. I don't like red ties!"

At this statement I could not refrain from glancing down at my own tie even though I knew that it could not be red. While at Harvard I had heard that red ties were somehow taboo, and as a consequence I was careful never to purchase a tie with any red in it. The one I happened to be wearing on that particular September day was, I was glad to note, an innocuous blue in color.

The Justice then closed the conversation by saying that there were a lot of crackpot theorists in Washington who were bent on ruining the government if given half a chance. He enumerated several of them by name, and having done that he suddenly stood up and left the room. The conversation was over, but before he disappeared into his own study I did manage to thank him for answering my question in such detail. Then as soon as he had gone, I began to sketch out on the typewriter a short memorandum of his conversation so that I would not forget what he had just said.

[Late September, 1936:] The next time Justice McReynolds called me into his study for some dictation, I mentioned my surprise at learning how many campaign promises the President had broken. After some reflection the Justice slowly replied, "No trait in Roosevelt is more dangerous than the fact that he does one thing while planning just the opposite." And shaking his head back and forth he concluded, "I don't know where all this is going to end!"

Noticing a copy of the current issue of "The Literary Digest" on the Justice's desk I chanced to remark, "It will probably end in Roosevelt's defeat. What does this week's 'Digest' poll say about Landon's chances?"

McReynolds then handed me the October 3, 1936, issue of "The Literary Digest". On page 7 there was an article entitled "Landon Holds Lead in 'Digest' Poll. Kansan Ahead in 21 States, Roosevelt in 10, Lemke in None."

"Landon seems to be gaining," the Justice ventured, "I think we may be due for a change. Let's hope so at least!"

To this I replied, "I notice Roosevelt said last week that he expects to balance the budget in a year or two without imposing any additional new taxes."

"I suppose he said that in one of his campaign speeches," McReynolds remarked dryly. "Well, then, you can just be sure he is getting ready to spend some more money!"

I then left the Justice's study to peruse the copy of "The Literary Digest" which he had given me. And at the moment it seemed that McReynolds might even be right in anticipating Landon's election. "The Digest" polls in the past had proved remarkably correct. In 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1932 not only had the "Digest" picked the correct Presidential winner, but it had forecast the actual popular vote within such a small percentage of error that the magazine's polls were considered extremely accurate by 1936. For instance, the percentage of error in the 1932 poll had been less than 1%.

Not only did the "Digest" predict that Landon was leading in 21 states, but these states carried an electoral vote of 290. On the other hand, the 10 states in which Roosevelt was alleged to be leading contained only 111 electoral votes. Then, too, Al Smith had just made a stirring speech in Carnegie Hall telling a New York audience that "the remedy for all the ills that we are suffering from today is the election of Alfred M. Landon". The fact that the Democratic candidate of 1928 would endorse a Republican candidate in 1936 carried great weight with me. "Maybe he will influence several million votes throughout the country," I thought. "If Smith could swing New York State to Landon, Roosevelt might be seriously hampered."

In the evenings, however, I would tune in on some of Landon's campaign speeches [using the] small radio in my apartment. But when I listened to his voice and delivery I began to have grave doubts again that he could win against Roosevelt. It was like trying to imagine a pygmy attempting to lasso an elephant. And all the while Jim Farley remained very calm and kept saying that whatever Al Smith or Alf Landon did was quite immaterial, and that Roosevelt's victory in 1936 would be an even greater one than his 1932 success. Yet Justice McReynolds continued to place his faith in "The Literary Digest" polls. It was the only magazine that I ever saw on the desk in his study. He read each issue carefully and compared Landon's chances week by week with those of the occupant of the White House. The "Digest's" predictions were something to hold to, and to keep faith in. They were, in fact, like a guiding star which seemed to forecast the early end of the four year New Deal nightmare.

[Mid-November, 1936, after being introduced to Mrs. Katherine Ogden Savage, a wealthy widow who lived one floor away from McReynolds in the same apartment building:] At dinner held by Mrs. Savage on Saturday, November 14th, I sat near the Admiral from the Navy Department. I noticed Mrs. Savage's Negro maid eyeing me rather sharply. She was busily serving someone on the opposite side of the table, and she had just heard me tell the Admiral that I was Justice McReynolds' secretary. In no time at all this same maid informed Harry of what she had learned. A few days later he took me aside in the kitchen of McReynolds' apartment and in a very serious tone of voice asked me if I had ever heard of a Mrs. Francis M. Savage.

"Why Harry," I exclaimed in surprise. "Don't you remember? You introduced me to her when I went to Court the other day."

"That I did," Harry replied glumly, "and I'm real sorry to hear you have become a gigolo so soon."

"A gigolo?" I inquired in surprise. "Just what do you mean?"

"You know what I mean!" replied Harry. "Mrs. Savage is a widow twice your age. She is also a friend of Pussywillow's. You were seen eating with her in the dining room downstairs&mdashright out in public where everybody could see you! And then you even went to dinner in her apartment! I know because her maid told me."

It took some time and considerable discussion before Harry was prepared to concede that perhaps I wasn't exactly a gigolo after all, but he was certain that the whole affair had an element of great disaster in it. "No good will come of this!" he said, shaking his head from side to side. "Mark my word, when Pussywillow hears about you and Mrs. Savage, you will really be in trouble&mdashand just when everything is going nice and calm like now that the Court is hearing arguments again. In fact, you won't last until Christmas. You'll be looking for a nice new job by the time snow comes!"

"The Justice won't need to hear of it," I said, "that is unless somebody tells him."

"Well, nobody's going to snitch on you," replied Harry, "but some day soon Pussywillow will come walking down the lobby swinging his cane and see his secretary as big as life eating right there in the dining room with his lady friend from upstairs. And when that happens it sure will be curtains for you!"

"I'm prepared to take the risk," I finally replied. "After all, he only plays golf with Mrs. Savage. He isn't married to her, and he can't tell her who to invite to dinner."

"O. K." Harry concluded with a sigh, "but don't say I didn't warn you! Pussywillow is real jealous of all of his lady friends&mdasheven the ones he only sees on a golf course." And with that statement the subject of Mrs. Savage was closed for the time being. In fact, a few minutes later McReynolds arrived home from Court, and soon he was immersed in dictating a letter to me.

[Mid-January, 1937:] Not long after the White House reception [for the judiciary on January 12, 1937] I noticed a subtle change beginning to take place in the Justice's conduct of his affairs, and as the month progressed McReynolds began to exhibit marked signs of irritability and uneasiness. I finally wrote in my diary as follows:

Since McReynolds was in contact with a number of prominent people in Washington, I finally assumed that someone from Capitol Hill was upsetting him considerably by forecasting what the President's plans for the country might be. The Justice, for instance, was a friend of Representative Hatton W. Sumners of Texas, the able Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Was Sumners the one who was causing the Justice such uneasiness? I assumed that he was, and for years I felt that Sumners was the one who had warned the Justice, [but Congressman Summers denied "ever discussing the matters" when I corresponded with him in 1961]. In any event, shortly after President Roosevelt's message to Congress on January 6, 1937, Sumners revived a bill which he had previously introduced in the House of Representatives. He may have read between the lines of the President's message and anticipated Roosevelt's impending assault upon the Supreme Court. In his revived bill Representative Sumners looked toward the day when some of the Justices might resign but still need a guaranteed income each year. This bill, therefore, sought to establish a retiring Justice in a new position in which he would exercise certain minor judicial functions. In return, the Justice would be guaranteed a certain salary which would not be subject to reduction.

Now it so happened that while serving as Attorney General in 1913 Justice McReynolds had recommended the passage of a bill providing that when any federal judge, except justices of the Supreme Court, failed to avail himself of the privilege of retiring at the age provided by law, the President should appoint another judge to preside over the affairs of the Court and have precedence over the older one. "This," said McReynolds, "will insure at all times the presence of a judge sufficiently active to discharge promptly and adequately all the duties of the court." McReynolds had made this recommendation to President Wilson in 1913, but no action had ever been taken on it. Now in 1936 McReynolds, as the arch conservative member of the Supreme Court, was on the verge of finding these words turned against him by the occupant of the White House. Whether he knew this or surmised it during the month of January, 1937, I have no way of knowing for sure. But for many years I have assumed that he did know for he became more and more uneasy as he occupied himself with day by day routine Court work. He was busily preparing three decisions which he expected to read at the next opinion day&mdashFebruary 1, 1937&mdashbut writing these decisions was certainly not the cause of his growing uneasiness. I finally began to wonder just what was really going to happen after the Inauguration scheduled for Wednesday, January 20, 1937.


History of the Court – Timeline of the Justices – James Clark McReynolds, 1914-1941

JAMES CLARK McREYNOLDS was born in Elkton, Kentucky, on February 3, 1862. He was graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1882, and from the University of Virginia Law School in 1884. McReynolds settled in Nashville, Tennessee, and established a law practice. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1896. In 1900, McReynolds accepted a position as an adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University and taught there for three years. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed McReynolds the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice. McReynolds resigned from the Department of Justice in 1907 to return to the practice of law, this time in New York, New York. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Attorney General of the United States. On August 29, 1914, President Wilson nominated McReynolds to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on October 12, 1914. McReynolds retired from the Supreme Court on January 31, 1941, after twenty-six years of service. He died on August 24, 1946, at the age of eighty-four.


James Clark McReynolds

The fourth Tennessean to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, James C. McReynolds was born in Elkton, Kentucky, on February 3, 1862. His father was a surgeon and plantation owner, and the family belonged to a fundamentalist sect of the Disciples of Christ church. The isolation of the mountain community where young James grew up, the political and religious conservatism of his father, and the strict moral code to which he was subjected all profoundly influenced him.

At age seventeen he entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he excelled in science, edited the school paper, and graduated first in his class. He began postgraduate work in science, but soon left to attend law school at the University of Virginia. McReynolds was such a diligent and enthusiastic student of the law that he graduated in only fourteen months.

Following graduation in 1884 he spent two years in Washington as a staff assistant to Senator Howell E. Jackson of Tennessee (who was to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1893). McReynolds established a law practice in Nashville in 1886. Ten years later he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. It was said that his arrogance and aloofness contributed to his political defeat.

In 1900 McReynolds became a professor of law at Vanderbilt University one of his colleagues there was Horace Lurton, who would be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1909. He was appointed assistant attorney general by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and soon gained a reputation as a zealous and effective “trust buster.” In 1907 he left government to practice law for a time in New York City but returned to Tennessee after a few years and resumed his involvement in politics. He supported Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912 and was appointed attorney general in the new president’s cabinet.

McReynolds was eminently qualified to be attorney general, but his violent temper and abrasive personality soon began to create problems for the president. When his fellow Tennessean, Justice Lurton, died in 1914, Wilson seized the opportunity to solve two problems at once by appointing McReynolds to the U.S. Supreme Court.

McReynolds served twenty-six years on the nation’s highest court and became well known for his inflexibility, his narrow constructionist views, and his utter failure to get along with his colleagues. He was especially intolerant of Justices Cardozo and Brandeis and became a bitter enemy of President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. McReynolds strongly opposed the growing economic regulatory power of the federal government. He authored several significant decisions in the field of civil liberties. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), for instance, McReynolds invoked the doctrine of substantive due process to invalidate a state law requiring that all children attend public school. He resigned from the Court in 1941 after becoming the sole surviving member of the conservative bloc. He died of bronchial pneumonia in a Washington hospital on August 24, 1946, and was buried in Elkton, Kentucky.

It is unfortunate that an acerbic personality and a lack of social graces marred McReynolds’s career. After his death many were surprised to learn that he had supported almost three dozen young refugee children during World War II and that he had been a substantial contributor to other children’s charities.


A Short History of Me…

MacRanald, McReynolds or other variants are patronymic forms of the name of Keppoch Macdonells. John M’Rynald was a tenant of Eddirallekach, Strogartnay in 1483 and Donald McRanald appears several times as a tenant in Kintyre in 1506. Since it is a short distance from the end of the Kintyre peninsula to the coast of County Antrim there have been movements of people between the two since long before historic times. The records show that the McReynolds family has lived in the area between Cookstown and Stewartstown for a very long time. For example, in the 1666 Hearth Money Roll, a Hugh McRannell is listed as resident in Ballynagowan, parish of Ballyclog. This may be Ballynargan which is just east of Kingsmill. However our earliest known probable ancestor is John McRannells (McReynolds) with whom we begin our account of the McReynolds family.

John McRannells, it is said, was a direct descendant of Alexander de Insulus (Alasdair Carrach), third son of John, Lord of the Isles*, and his wife, Princess Margaret Stewart, the daughter of King Robert II of Scotland and great granddaughter of Robert Bruce. The records tell of the baptism of a son, Johne, of Johne McRannald and his wife Kathleen, whose maiden name was Mcilstalker. The baptism took place on Aug.11, 1672, in Inveraray and Glenaray, Argyllshire, and is recorded in the parochial register of the county of Argyll. Legend has it that that John could speak the Scotch language better than English. As a young man he enlisted in the British Army and was sent to Ireland where he is said to have participated in the defence of the city of Londonderry during the famous siege in 1689. A story is told that he gave one of his fellow defenders a beating for allowing a rat they could have eaten to escape. Later, he is said to have left the army and migrated to County Tyrone with his two younger brothers. They settled near Charlemont and Moy. In 1703 he married Mary Preston, born in 1683 the daughter of Thomas Preston. They made their residence at Cloghog, County Tyrone. It was the first McReynolds home in the area and was constructed shortly after their marriage. Fire gutted the building in the latter part of the last century but it was rebuilt and is still occupied by a descendant, Adeline McReynolds. John and Mary had three sons, James, Benjamin and Oliver listed below. Mary died on Jul.15, 1713, at the young age of 30 and there is a gravestone inscription about 15 feet from the front door of the Clonoe parish church which reads:

“Here lyeth the body of Mary Preston, wife of John McCrannels, who departed this life July 15, 1713, aged thirty years also Thomas Preston who departed this life January 11, 1705, aged 78 years.”

After Mary’s death John moved to the townland of Coash in the parish of Killyman. He was married for a second time on Jun.18, 1714, to a Quaker, Elizabeth Shepherd the daughter of Solomon Shepherd, at the Quaker meeting house at Grange near Moy. It is said that the Quaker Church and “Old Grange House” are still standing. Other marriages in the Quaker records from this period include those of Patrick, Susannah and James McRannell or McReynolds and they may have been John’s close relatives. John and Elizabeth had four surviving children, Joseph, Elizabeth, James and Robert. John and Elizabeth lived about two miles from Dungannon. By this time John had accumulated considerable wealth having large farms and two mills, one in Killyman parish and the other in Clonoe parish. For some unknown reason the marriage failed and, in 1738, Elizabeth and her four children emigrated to the United States where they settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She died at an old age in the home of her son James in Appomattox County, Virginia. Perhaps because of his advanced age (he was 72) John remained in Ireland and lived with his children by his first wife. He died at a ripe old age at the home of a grandson in Stewartstown and is buried in Ballyclog parish cemetery.

Elizabeth Shepherd McReynolds, the second wife of John McReynolds (1665-1760) emigrated to the United States with their four surviving children in 1738. The trip across the Atlantic apparently took six weeks, the provisions became exhausted and the passengers faced starvation. Fortunately another ship hove into sight and gave them assistance. Elizabeth and her children settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She died at an old age in the home of her son James in Appomattox County, Virginia. Her husband John remained in Ireland and lived with his children by his first wife. The genealogy of the descendants of Elizabeth Shepherd McReynolds has been painstakingly compiled. It is much too large to be repeated here and so we produce only a brief summary of the first few generations. The reader who wishes to obtain more information is referred to “McReynolds. A Noble Clan” written by William Howard McReynolds (1980) and available through the LDS library system.

John Islay (or John MacDonald) m. Arnie McRuarie
1. Ranald
2. Godfrey
m. Margaret Stewart (daughter of Robert II, King of Scotland and Elizabeth Mure great-granddaughter of Robert Bruce)
1. Donald (became Lord of the Isles in 1380)
2. John (ancestor to Earl of Antrim)
3. Alexander (ancestor to MacDonalds of Keppoch)

Ranald (great-grandson of Alexander)

Johne McRannald m. Kathleen McIlstalker
1. Johne – baptized Aug.11, 1672, in Inveraray and Glenaray, Argyllshire
b. Aug. 11, 1665(?more likely confused with baptism date?) d. 1760 in Cloghog, County Tyrone, North Ireland migrated to County Tyrone with his two younger brothers

John McReynolds m. Mary Preston (4 children), m. Elizabeth Shepherd (1665-1760)
I. Joseph McReynolds (born in 1715 in Killyman near Dungannon. Quaker records show that Joseph was received into the Nottingham Monthly meeting of Nov.27, 1737, on a certificate dated Feb.27, 1737, from Grange Meeting, Ireland. He married a Sarah Dixon in 1736. With his mother Joseph and Sarah emigrated to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1738. In 1753 they moved to Bedford County, Virginia, and then in 1770 to Washington County, Virginia. Joseph and Sarah had seven sons and two daughters listed below. They were quite religious and belonged to the Presbyterian Church. Joseph died in 1805 at the home of his son Samuel in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.)
A. Robert
B. Roland
C. James McReynolds (born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about 1742. He and his brother John migrated into Tryon County, North Carolina about 1770, where Joseph served as constable in 1777. He had at least 7 children:)
1. James
2. Archibald
3. Joseph
4. Hugh McReynolds b. Nov. 10, 1775 d. Feb. 15, 1865 (buried in Arthur, WI) m. Margaret White?/Dowding? B. 1786 in AL d. May 5, 1861 moved to WI around 1833.
a. John McReynolds b. 1805 Rutherford, NC? / Lincoln County, Tennessee?, and moved with his parents to Bond County, Illinois d. 1865 m.(1829) Rebecca Johnson b. 1807 in TN d. 1904 lived in Montgomery County and moved to Grant County, Wisconsin in 1837. They had at least 10 children:
i. James
ii. Thomas
iii. Jesse
iv. Harriet
(v.? John)
v. William McDavid McReynolds b. Sept. 4, 1842 d. Dec. 31, 1917 m. Lucy Atwood b. April 17, 1849 d. April 10, 1925 (both buried Ashland, NE)
1. William Alfred McReynolds b. April 18, 1867 d. July 18, 1949 m. Florence Elizabeth Almy b. Oct 28, 1867 d. April 27, 1909
a. Elmer Louis McReynolds b. Feb 11, 1892 d. Nov 8, 1963, m. Ola Breedon b. Feb 13, 1890 d. ___________
1) Louise m. _____ Stevenson
2) Kathryn m. Wayne Sutton
3) John
4) William (Bill)
5) Frank
b. Willa m. Ernest Hageman
c. Gladys m. Henry Boydston
d. Florence m. Martin Williams
e. Sarah m. E. Forrest Estes
f. Nellie m. Harold Hufford
2. Clem
3. Albert
4. Nellie
vi. Franklin
vii. Francis
viii. Samuel
b. Isaac
c. James
d. Robert
e. Hugh
f. Mary
g. Joseph
h. Sarah
i. William
j. Lewis
D. John
E. daughter
F. Samuel
G. daughter
H. Joseph
I. William
II. Elizabeth
III. James
IV. Joseph
V. Robert

Lord of the Isles
A UNIQUE and important place in Scottish history, and particularly in the history of the Hebrides and the southwestern Highlands, is occupied by the great figure of Somerled of the Isles. “Somerledi,” or summer sailors, is said to have been the term applied to the Norwegian adventurers, whose raids upon the coasts of this country were usually made during the pleasanter months of the year but so far as history is concerned the name is that of the great island lord who reigned as an independent prince of the West and the Isles throughout the middle of the twelfth century. It is generally asserted in the Highland genealogies of to-day that Somerled was a Celtic chief by whose efforts the Norsemen had been driven from the mainland of Scotland, and who had wrested the islands of the west from the Norwegian Olaf, King of Man, before setting himself up as King of the Isles and Lord of Argyll but the facts of history make it appear more likely that he was himself a Norseman, and we know his wife was Effrica daughter of Olaf of Man. When the High Steward, settled at Renfrew for the purpose by David I. of Scotland, began to drive back the Norse invaders who were then thrusting their settlements into the higher reaches of the Firth of Clyde, his chief opponent was this Somerled of the Isles. The climax of the struggle between them was reached in 1164, when Somerled landed a great force on the shores of Renfrewshire, and fought a pitched battle with the forces of the High Steward near the headquarters of the latter at Renfrew itself. In that battle Somerled fell, along with Gillecolane, his son by his first marriage, and it seems possible that the Barochan Cross, with its interesting and appropriate sculptures, still standing near the scene of the battle, forms a memorial of the event.

Somerled is said to have left a grandson, Somerled, son of Gillecolane, who inherited Argyll but was defeated and slain by Alexander II. in 1221, also three sons by his second marriage, Dugald to whom he left Lorne and his more northern possessions and who became ancestor of the MacDougalls of Lorne, Reginald who obtained Kintyre, Cowal, Isla, Arran, and Bute, and a third son Angus, who obtained the great Lordship of Garmoran, the actual bounds of which are not now certain. It is from the younger son Reginald, that the MacDonalds of the Isles and all the branches of the name the descended. Reginald had two sons who between them, in the year 1210, slew their uncle Angus, and possessed themselves of his patrimony of Garmoran. The elder of the two, Donald, succeeded his father in possession of Kintyre and the outer Isles, and carried on the main line of the race. The younger brother, Roderick, got Bute, Arran, and Garmoran. It is probably he who figures in the legend of Rothesay Castle enshrined in the ballad of “The Bluidy Stair.” We know at any rate that the struggle for the possession of Bute and its stronghold went on between the Stewarts and the descendants of Somerled with varying fortunes till about the time of the battle of Largs in 1263. The last of the line of Roderick or Ruari, was Amy, the first wife of John, Chief of Clan Donald and Lord of the Isles, of whom more presently.

Donald’s son was known as Angus Mor, and his son again as Angus Og. The latter took Bruce’s side in the War of Succession, and it is he who figures as the hero, accordingly, in Sir Walter Scott’s last great poem, The Lord of the Isles. As a matter of history, recorded by Archdeacon Barbour in hisBruce, Angus Og received and sheltered Bruce in his stronghold of Dunaverty at the south end of Kintyre, when the king was on his way southward in 1306, to shelter in the Island of Rachryn. From the chronicler’s method of telling the tale it does not appear as if Bruce felt himself perfectly safe while enjoying that hospitality. In the following Spring, however, it was with the help of Christina of the Isles that Bruce organised his expedition for the return to Scotland. The historian Tytler, quoting the chronicler Fordoun, describes how a chief named Donald of the Isles raised the men of Galloway against Bruce in 1308, and was defeated and taken prisoner on the banks of the Dee on 29th June by the king’s brother. But Fordoun seems to have confounded the Islesman with some lieutenant of MacDougal of Lorne. As a result of his support of Bruce, Angus Og received, as additions to his territories, Morvern, Ardnamurchan, and Lochaber, which had previously belonged to the MacDougals, but had been forfeited because of that family’s siding with the Comyns against the King.

*John, Lord of the Isles, son of Angus Og, raised the power of his family by marrying his cousin, Arnie MacRuarie, heiress of the line of Roderick, Reginald’s younger son. By her he got Garmoran and had two sons, Ranald and Godfrey. From the former of these are descended the houses of Glengarry and Clanranald, which to the present day put forward against the MacDonalds of the Isles claims to the supreme chiefship of the great MacDonald Clan. John, Lord of the Isles, however, appears to have repudiated or divorced his first wife, Amie MacRuarie, and to have married, under a dispensation dated 1350, Margaret, daughter of the seventh High Steward, afterwards King Robert II. By her he had three sons, Donald, John, and Alexander, and by reason, it is believed, that they were the king’s grandsons, the eldest of the three was preferred to the succession to the Lordship of the Isles. At the same time, by way of compensation, their mother’s inheritance, comprising the ancient lordship of Garmoran, was secured to the sons of the first wife. Of the three sons by the second wife, John became ancestor to the Earl of Antrim, and Alexander to the MacDonalds of Keppoch.

Meanwhile the old Chief, John of the Isles, had again and again shown his haughty spirit. In 1368 he refused to attend the Scottish Parliament and submit to the laws of the realm, and though he was forced to submit afterwards in person to King David II himself at Inverness, this spirit was carried further by his successor. Almost immediately the arbitrary setting aside of the sons of the first marriage of John, Lord of the Isles, was to produce results the horror of which Scotland has not yet forgotten. John lived until 1386, when he died at Ardtornish Castle in Morvern. He was buried in Iona.[8]

Also (from Wikipedia):
John of Islay (or John MacDonald) (Scottish Gaelic: Eòin Mac Dòmhnuill or Iain mac Aonghais Mac Dhòmhnuill) (died 1386) was the Lord of the Isles (1336–1386) and chief of Clan Donald. In 1336, he styled himself Dominus Insularum, “Lord of the Isles” because this is the first ever recorded instance of the title in use, modern historians count John as the first of the later medieval Lords of the Isles,[1] although this rather broad Latin style corresponds roughly with the older Gaelic title Rí Innse Gall (“King of the Isles”), in use since the Viking Age, and for instance, the even more similar Latin title dominus de Inchegal (“Lord of the Hebrides”), applied to Raghnall Mac Somhairle in the mid-12th century.[2] In fact John is actually styled Rí Innsi Gall or King of the Isles shortly after his death in a contemporary entry in the Irish Annals of Ulster.[3]


McReynolds, James Harris, Jr. [Harry] (1829&ndash1891)

James Harris McReynolds, major in the Ninth Texas Infantry Regiment, was born on March 22, 1829, in Hardeman, Tennessee, to Ann (Minter) McReynolds and James Harris McReynolds, Sr. The family lived in Alabama before James, Jr. was born in Tennessee in 1830 in Marshall County, Mississippi, in 1840 and finally settled in Cass County, Texas, by 1850. The relocation proved profitable for the family as their number of slaves increased each decennial&mdashfrom thirteen in Tennessee to thirty-three in Texas in 1850&mdashwhen James McReynolds, Sr., boasted a real estate value of $11,980.

Once settled in the Lone Star State, the family used their wealth to help establish Chappell Hill College in Titus County, which was chartered on February 7, 1850. James McReynolds, Sr., was a member of the first thirteen-man board of trustees. Although James, Jr., and two of his siblings are listed as students in the census of 1850, whether they went to Chapel Hill College when it officially opened in 1852 is uncertain. Unfortunately, the school did not survive more than twenty years and closed in 1869 due to lack of students and funds.

Soon after Texas voted for secession, James H. McReynolds, Jr., enlisted for military service in Titus County in Company D, which joined with nine other companies from North and Northeast Texas to form the Ninth Texas Infantry under Samuel Bell Maxey. When these units organized at Camp Rusk in Lamar County in late October 1861, William E. Beeson, captain of Company D, was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and James H. McReynolds was elected captain to replace him. The 1,120 men that made up the Ninth Texas Infantry were officially mustered into the Confederate Army on December 1, 1861, and one month later on January 1, 1862, left for combat.

Although the first combat the Ninth saw was at Shiloh, due to sickness and two companies being detached, only 225 officers and men of the regiment fought. After the battle, the Ninth was reorganized, and every position of leadership, from the field officers to the company captains, changed, excluding James H. McReynolds. The Ninth was present for battle at Corinth, Richmond, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Vicksburg, Jackson, and Chickamauga, suffering especially heavy losses at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga. Consequently, the regiment was forced to reorganize on April 5, 1864, at which time James McReynolds was promoted to major.

Following the reorganization, the Ninth participated in every major battle of the Atlanta campaign, including Jonesboro and Lovejoy's Station, and lost one-third of the men left in the regiment. Once again, losses necessitated restructuring, and because regiment commander William Hugh Young was promoted to lead the brigade, McReynolds was put in command of the Ninth. In the very next engagement, at the battle of Allatoona in Georgia on October 5, 1864, of the 101 men who participated from the regiment, forty-three were either killed or wounded, with Major McReynolds falling in the latter category. After this, the Ninth took part at the battle of Nashville in December 1864 and the defense at Spanish Fort, Mobile, in April 1865 before surrendering at Meridian, Mississippi, on May 4. When the regiment was paroled on May 11, 1865, it was again under the command of Maj. James McReynolds, one of the 8 officers and 79 enlisted men remaining of the original 1,120.

After the war, James McReynolds moved to Jefferson, Texas, in Marion County. During the 1850s his father had purchased more than 4,000 acres throughout Cass and Marion counties, which he had left to his wife Ann when he died in 1859, and she then bequeathed the land to their children when she died in 1865. James, Jr., continued his father's acquisition of land in the same counties, and he purchased property in Harrison County and present-day Cass County. He also purchased several town lots in the city of Jefferson. By 1891 he owned more than $10,000 in property alone, though his occupation was listed as merchant.

Possibly because of his business ventures, James H. McReynolds did not marry until January 20, 1869, when he and Mary Thomas Dysart were wed in Red River County. Their first two children, a daughter born in 1870 and a son in 1873, died eleven and two months after birth, respectively. However, the next three children, two sons named Oliver and Harris and a daughter named Halley, lived to adulthood. James H. McReynolds lived in Jefferson until his death on January 31, 1891, when he was described as one of the city's "oldest and wealthiest citizens." He is now buried at Daingerfield City Cemetery, Morris County, along with both of his parents, three brothers and their wives, several nieces and nephews, and a son and daughter.

Tim Bell, "History of the 9th Texas Infantry" (http://gen.1starnet.com/civilwar/9hist.htm), accessed July 25, 2010. Joe E.Ericson, Marion County, Texas, in the Civil War (Nacogdoches: Ericson Books, 2009). Brian Reed, The 9th Texas Infantry (M. A. thesis, Baylor University, 2009). John F. Walter, "Histories of Texas Units in the Civil War," Ms., Historical Research Center, Texas Heritage Museum, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas, 1981.


James McReynolds - History

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From the personal collection of Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark

McReynolds tells the Marshal to take care of friends

James Clark McReynolds, 1862 – 1946. Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, 1914 – 1941. Autograph Note, unsigned, on Justice McReynolds ʼs 1½" x 3" personal calling card, June 11 [no year].

McReynolds pens a request—which for McReynolds would have been a directive. Writing “To / The Marshal U.S. Supreme Court,” McReynolds instructs, “Please take care of Miss Gaugh and her friend."

This card dates from one of three years, 1917, 1923, or 1934. Those were the only years during McReynoldsʼ 27-year tenure on the Supreme Court that June 11 fell on a Monday.

McReynolds is best known as one of the “Four Horsemen,” the group of four conservative Justices who opposed most of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs . McReynolds and Justices George Sutherland, Willis Van Devanter, and Pierce Butler influenced the Court's invalidation of much New Deal legislation, including the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, Schecter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935) the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936) the Bituminous Coal Act of 1935, Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U.S. 238 (1936) and a New York minimum wage law for women and children, Morehead v. New York, 298 U.S. 587 (1936). By 1937, the success of these four, often joined by the swing vote of Justice Owen Roberts, led to Roosevelt's infamous “Court Packing Plan,” by which the President sought to appoint a majority of new Justices favorable to the administration.

Although McReynolds was a Democrat, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson, by the time he retired he was the most conservative voice on the Court . He dissented from the Court ’ s decision upholding the Social Security Act, saying, “I can not find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States." From 1937, when a change in the views of Justice Roberts killed the Court Packing Plan, through 1941, when McReynolds retired, McReynolds dissented 119 times. He voted against more New Deal legislation than any other Justice. Increasingly isolated, McReynolds announced his retirement by saying, bitterly, that “any country that elects Roosevelt three times deserves no protection."

McReynolds was also by far the most cantankerous of the Justices, unable to get along with most of his colleagues. Indeed, Wilson had appointed him to the Supreme Court to get him out of the cabinet as Attorney General. A man that one critic described as "intolerably rude,” McReynolds refused to converse with Justice John Clarke, another Wilson appointee, because Clarke was too liberal. He was also so anti-Semitic that he likewise refused to speak to Justices Louis D. Brandeis and Benjamin N. Cardozo. Chief Justice William Howard Taft said that McReynolds was “fuller of prejudice than any man I have ever known."

Yet McReynolds had another side. A lifelong bachelor, he had a soft spot for children and heavily supported children's and other charities. He gave generously to support 33 young victims of the German bombardment of England in 1941, and he pledged the first $10,000 in the initial $10,000,000 Save the Children Campaign. He left the bulk of his estate to charities, including the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

A fascinating account of McReynolds and his time leading up to and during the Court Packing Plan appears in John Knox, The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR ’ s Washington (Dennis J. Hutchinson & David J. Garrow, eds., 2002). Knox served as McReynold s' private secretary and law clerk during the October 1936 term. He writes of McReynolds' abrasive personality —and of how McReynolds ' two African-American servants derisively referred to him as “Pussywillow" behind his back. More importantly, however, Knox watched as McReynolds and the other Horsemen collaborated on decisions and fought their fight against Roosevelt and the New Deal.

McReynolds' autograph is available but certainly not abundant. T his note is on McReynoldsʼ calling card with “Mr. Justice McReynolds" engraved on the front. The card has a faint paper clip impression at the left and a small fingerprint spot at the top margin. Overall it is in fine to very fine condition

Provenance:This card comes from the personal collection of Justice Tom C. Clark, who served on the Supreme Court from 1949 until 1967. Justice Clark collected the autographs of other Supreme Court Justices dating back into the 19th Century. We are privileged to offer a number of items from the collection.


Biographical & Historical Information

James Clark McReynolds was born on February 3, 1862, in Elkton, Todd County, Kentucky. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University in 1882, where he was elected valedictorian and served as editor-in-chief of The Vanderbilt Observer. Upon graduation, he commenced the study of law at the University of Virginia where he obtained a law degree in 1884. His formal education completed, McReynolds embarked upon a lucrative private law practice in Nashville while teaching law at Vanderbilt University. In 1903, however, he moved to Washington, D.C. and became Assistant Attorney General, a position he held until 1912. During this period his vigorous prosecution of the "tobacco trust" bolstered his reputation among progressive reform groups. Active in Woodrow Wilson's successful presidential campaign in 1912, he was appointed Attorney General after briefly practicing law in New York City.

In 1914, Wilson appointed McReynolds to the United States Supreme Court where he served until his retirement in 1941. Justice McReynolds died in 1946.


James McReynolds – Supreme Court Nomination (1914)

Chief Justice Taft described him as “selfish to the last degree . . . fuller of prejudice than any man I have known.” He theatrically departed the conference room whenever Justice Brandeis spoke and sometimes withdrew from the bench rather than listen to a woman present arguments. He typically refused to join Brandeis’s opinions. No official Court photo exists for the 1924 term because he simply would not stand next to Brandeis, where seniority dictated they be positioned. Hearing that President Hoover might nominate Benjamin Cardozo to replace Justice Holmes, he (and two other justices) begged Hoover not to “afflict the Court with another Jew.” He read a newspaper during Cardozo’s swearing-in ceremony and avoided Justice Frankfurter’s entirely—“My God, another Jew on the Court!” One clerk claims he never said a single word to Cardozo.

Who was this congenial fellow?

James C. McReynolds, who served as Woodrow Wilson’s Attorney General until his nomination to the Supreme Court on August 19, 1914. He’d gained a reputation as an uncompromising trustbuster as Assistant Attorney General in the Theodore Roosevelt and Taft administrations. He proved absolutely dreadful to work with, and Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels later wrote that Wilson resolved to “kick him upstairs.”

Here are the nomination message and its “cover” (the middle third of the message’s reverse side):

I was alone when I found the McReynolds nomination. In my best Tom Hanks voice, I playfully bellowed, “WILSON!! NOOOO!” McReynolds, an expert on Supreme Court nominations writes, “proved himself quickly to be the antithesis of almost everything for which his nominator stood and in which be believed.” Of the anti-New Deal Four Horsemen, McReynolds was “their loudest, most cantankerous, sarcastic, aggressive, intemperate, and reactionary representative.”

I look forward to reading the memoir of one of McReynolds’s 1936-37 clerks.


Watch the video: James - Getting Away With It All Messed Up (May 2022).