Justice Charles H. Dupont
Former Justice Charles H. DuPont was the tenth Justice on the Supreme Court and served from 1854-1868. He was from an affluent extended family and Charles enjoyed a comfortable childhood. He graduated from Franklin College in Georgia and was admitted to the bar in 1826. That same year he moved to Quincy, Florida, established a law practice and oversaw the building of a large cotton plantation. He made connections with Governor William P. DuVal, who enlisted his help in territorial politics.
DuPont received an appointment to the territorial legislative council in 1835. When the council became an elective body, he ran for and was elected to the Senate in 1838, where he remained through 1841. He served in the territorial militia during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).
An economic downturn in the early 1840s led him to concentrate on his plantation and his law practice. He also took an interest in railroad development. By 1853, DuPont was one of the wealthiest planters in the state.
He remained interested in politics and became an early advocate of the state’s right to secede from the federal union. He also decided to run for popular election to the state supreme court that year, and succeeded. A highly publicized dispute with Chief Justice Baltzell in 1859 led him to run (successfully) for chief justice against Baltzell the next year.
He presided throughout the Civil War and the first years of the Reconstruction Era, but in 1868, Congressional Reconstruction led to a new state constitution and his loss of office. Though his financial status was reduced by the end of slavery, he began promoting tobacco as an economic alternative. His efforts led Quincy area farmers to develop a highly successful shade tobacco product later in the century. He also sought to attract immigrants to Florida to replace the freed slaves.
DuPont fell ill during a trip to Minnesota in 1877 to recruit immigrants. He returned home to Quincy only days before his death.
Quick facts about Justice DuPont
- Served from 1854-1859 and 1860-1868
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