[PORTRAIT: Justice Thomas Baltzell]


The 2nd Justice of the Court, Thomas Baltzell was born July 11, 1804, in Frankfort, Kentucky, and died January 1866 in Tallahassee. He moved to Florida as a young man in 1825 shortly after earning his license to practice by "reading the law" under the supervision of other lawyers.

Baltzell was elected to the Court by the Legislature in 1846, was elected to the Court for another term in 1854, and was defeated by Charles H. DuPont in the 1859 judicial elections. He previously served on the Territorial Legislative Council (1832), the 1838 Constitutional Convention, the Tallahassee City Commission (1840-42), and the Territorial Senate (1844-46). After leaving the Court, Baltzell went on to serve in the Florida House of Representatives (1862-63) during the Civil War, and the Constitutional Convention of 1865.

Thomas Baltzell was well known for a fiery temper. Before he was appointed to the Court, he once challenged James D. Westcott, Florida's Territorial Secretary, to a duel. The two men met near the Alabama border, and Baltzell succeeded in wounding Westcott. However, Westcott survived and later went on to become United States Senator and father of a future Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, James D. Westcott, Jr.

Baltzell's temper also was demonstrated in 1859 when he ordered a sheriff to arrest Justice Bird M. Pearson for failing to appear for the Court's regular session. When the tardy Justice Pearson arrived, he and the third Justice outvoted Baltzell and rescinded the order for Pearson's arrest.


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