Justice Samuel James Douglas

Justice Samuel James Douglas

Justice Samuel James Douglas

Former Justice Samuel Douglas was the 16th Justice on the Supreme Court and served from 1866-1868. He was born in Petersburg, Virginia on October 10, 1812 He graduated with honors from the University of Virginia, after which he began the practice of law in his native state.  His political leanings brought him to the attention of leaders of the Whig Party.  President John Tyler appointed Douglas to the federal bench as judge of the Territory of Florida’s middle district superior court in 1841. 

At age 29, he was the youngest man to sit on the territorial court of appeals. He found the territory to be a violent and lawless place.  By February of 1842, he had rendered verdicts in over 2,000 cases and made many friends and enemies.  His office ended with the beginning of statehood in 1845, and he returned to private practice. 

In 1847, he married the daughter of soon-to-be Governor Thomas Brown (1849-1853).  Thereafter, his home served as a gathering place for prominent visitors and community members.  In 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed Douglas to the post of U.S. collector of customs at Key West, where he served until 1853.  With the onset of the Civil War, Douglas served in the Confederate judiciary in Virginia, returning to Tallahassee after the war’s end in 1865. 

Governor David Walker, a long-time associate of Douglas, appointed him to the Florida Supreme Court in 1866, where he served until a new state constitution came into effect in 1868 and a new governor appointed other men to the Supreme Court.  Douglas died at his home in Tallahassee on November 14, 1873.

Quick Facts about Justice Douglas:

  • Served 1841 – 1845 as Middle District Superior Court Judge
  • Served 1866 – 1868 as Justice, Florida Supreme Court
  • Born: October 10, 1812 – Petersburg, Virginia
  • Died: November 14, 1873 – Tallahassee, Florida

Former Justices

Contact Information

Florida Supreme Court
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, Florida
32399-1925 | EMAIL
Talking with Justices and Staff