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Portrait Gallery

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    Justice Thomas Douglas

    The first Justice of the Court and its first Chief Justice, Thomas Douglas was born April 27, 1790 in Wallingford, Connecticut. Douglas' father was a shoemaker and farmer, but Douglas as a young man [PORTRAIT: Justice Thomas Douglas] tried to find a better life for himself and his wife, Hannah Sanford. He moved his family to Indiana in 1815, but his efforts to start his own businesses there soon failed.

    Douglas then began "reading law" to earn his license to practice. Oddly enough, Douglas succeeded in being elected a judge in Jefferson County, Indiana, before he was even licensed to practice. As a result, Florida's first Chief Justice began work as a judge before he could even work as a lawyer. In 1826, President John Quincy Adams appointed Douglas United States District Attorney for East Florida -- a post he held until named to the Florida Supreme Court in 1845.

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