Hornblower, William B. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Hornblower’s failed Supreme Court confirmation, along with that of fellow New Yorker Wheeler H. Peckham, opened the way for the appointment of Louisiana senator Edward D. White to the Court in 1894.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Hornblower graduated from Columbia Law School in 1875 and soon found employment as a corporate attorney in New York. Shunning public office, he nevertheless became an active member of the New York City Bar Association and in 1892 conducted an investigation into election irregularity, which ultimately led to the defeat of Democrat Isaac H. Maynard in a race for a seat on the New York court of appeals.Cleveland, Grover;nominations to the Court

William B. Hornblower

(Library of Congress)

Upon the death in 1893 of Justice Samuel Blatchford, a New Yorker, President Grover Cleveland nominated Hornblower on September 19, 1893. However, Democratic senator David B. Hill of New York mounted an opposition. Hill, who had backed Maynard’s election to the court of appeals, was now in a position to even the score against Hornblower. Using senatorial courtesySenatorial courtesy, he was ultimately able to block confirmation of Hornblower on January 15, 1894, by a vote of thirty to fifteen. Cleveland then nominated Wheeler H. Peckham, who met similar treatment one month later. The vacant seat ultimately went to Louisiana senator Edward D. White.

In 1895 Cleveland once again offered a seat on the Court to Hornblower. Citing financial difficulties, however, Hornblower declined the offer and remained in private practice. Briefly serving on the New York court of appeals in 1914, he resigned due to poor health just one week later and died soon after.

Blatchford, Samuel

Peckham, Wheeler H.

White, Edward D.

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