Justice James Diament Westcott, Jr.
Former Justice James D. Westcott was the 19th Justice on the Supreme Court and served from 1868-1885. While his father, James Westcott, participated in Democratic Party politics and served as a U.S. Senator from Florida, James, Jr. remained in Tallahassee, where he attended the West Florida Seminary and later gained appointments as Assistant Secretary of the Senate and secretary to Governor Madison Perry.
Westcott held positions in the Confederate States government in Florida, and after the war, he went into private practice in Tallahassee, where he attracted the interest of Republican Governor Harrison Reed.
In 1868, Reed appointed Westcott, despite his Democratic Party affiliation, to the Supreme Court. He served as a justice during the chaotic period of Reconstruction.
A talent for legal research and writing earned Westcott the opportunity to write many of the opinions handed down by the Supreme Court, especially on a number of complex legal issues. He authored 267 opinions in the 17 years between his appointment and his retirement in 1885.
He died in 1887 and was buried in Tallahassee’s Old City Cemetery. A lifelong bachelor, Westcott left his entire estate, a considerable sum, to his old school, the West Florida Seminary.
The gift provided economic stability to the school that has evolved into Florida State University. In 1936, the school named its administration building in his honor.
Quick facts about Justice Westcott:
- Served as justice from 1868-1885
- Born: Tallahassee, Florida – June 18, 1839
- Died: April 29, 1887 – Tallahassee, Florida
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