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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Joseph P. Bradley

BRADLEY, Joseph P., jurist, born in Berne, Albany County, New York, 14 March, 1813. He is of English descent. His earliest ancestor in the United States was Francis Bradley, who was a member of Governor Eaton's family in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1650, and removed to Fairfield in the same state in 1660. From Francis Bradley the judge is the sixth in line. In 1791 the family removed to Berne. His father was Philo Bradley, and his mother was Mercy Gardiner, of a Newport, Rhode Island, family. The father was a farmer, and had a library containing historical and mathematical works. Joseph was the eldest of eleven children, and worked on the farm until he reached the age of sixteen. His opportunities for obtaining an education consisted principally in his attendance, three or four months in each year, at a country school when he was between the ages of five and fourteen; but he made constant use of his father's library, and his attainments must have been very considerable. He taught a country school every winter from his sixteenth year till his twenty-first. During this period he also practiced surveying occasionally for the neighboring farmers. His love of study attracted the attention of the clergyman of the village, who offered to prepare him for College. This invitation he accepted, and at the age of twenty Mr. Bradley entered Rutgers, where he was graduated with honor in 1836, unusually distinguished as a mathematician. After devoting six months to teaching, he began the study of law with Arthur Gifford at Newark, New Jersey, and was admitted to the bar in November, 1839, In May, 1840, he opened an office in Newark, where he continued in practice thirty years, until his appointment to be a justice of the Supreme Court. He was engaged in many of the most important and difficult cases that arose in the New Jersey courts and in the courts of the United States for that district, and his services as a counselor were sought in a multitude of other business transactions. His professional career was attended throughout with great success. In 1860 he argued the celebrated New Jersey bridge case in the Supreme Court of the United States with a power and cogency that were long remembered. During many years he was a director and principal counselor of the New Jersey, Trenton, and Philadelphia, and of the Camden and Amboy railroad companies, and his influence was exerted to induce those companies to yield, in favor of the public, monopolies granted to them by the legislature, but odious to the community at large. From 1857 till 1863 he was the actuary of the mutual benefit insurance company of Newark, and from 1865 till 1869 was president of the New Jersey mutual life insurance company. He was also a director of various other financial institutions. In 1849 he addressed the literary societies of Rutgers College on the subject of "progress," and he has delivered lectures to the classes on political economy and constitutional law. In 1851 he delivered the annual address before the historical society of New Jersey on "The Perils through which the Federal Constitution has passed, and which still threaten it," and in 1865 he delivered an admirable address on the life and character of the Hon. William L. Dayton. In June, 1870, he delivered the centennial address at Rutgers College. He has contributed valuable articles to several cyclopaedia. In 1859 Lafayette College conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. In March, 1870, he was appointed by President Grant a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and was designated circuit justice for the large southern circuit. Subsequently, on the resignation of Justice Strong, he was assigned to the third circuit, embracing the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. During his membership of the Supreme Court a very large number of cases have been brought into it, involving questions arising out of the civil war, the reconstruction and other acts of congress, the constitutional amendments, the difficulties and controversies of railroad companies, and other subjects. In no former equal period have as many cases of supreme importance been decided by that court. Many of them were not only novel, but intricate and difficult of solution. In the investigation and decision of all of them Judge Bradley has borne a distinguished part. His mind is remarkably analytical, capable of discovering and appreciating occult though important distinctions. Added to this, his legal learning is so large and accurate, his acquaintance with English and American decisions so extensive, and his habit of looking beyond the rule for the reason or principle upon which it is founded so constant, that his opinions have been of high value. Those opinions appear in more than forty volumes of the Supreme Court reports, beginning with 9th Wallace. Many of them are notable alike for the importance of the subject discussed and for the manner of the discussion. In patent cases Judge Bradley has exhibited marked ability, his natural aptitude for comprehending mechanical devices qualifying him unusually for such cases. His opinions in maritime cases, in cases relating to civil rights and habeas corpus, in suits upon policies of insurance, and in cases in which statutory or constitutional construction has been required, are especially noteworthy as able and instructive. When in January, 1877 in pursuance of an act of congress, an electoral commission was constituted to consider and report upon the controversies that had arisen over the counting of the votes of presidential electors, Judge Bradley was a member, and, as such, concurred in the conclusions reached by the majority of the commissioners, supporting those conclusions by elaborate arguments, which were published with the other proceedings of the commission. Judge Bradley was never what is called a politician, though always holding decided opinions respecting constitutional and other public questions, and occasionally giving those opinions to the press. In his earlier years he was attached to the Whig party, and later became a republican. To the government he has uniformly given a steady and efficient support. When the southern states attempted secession, he devoted his power and influence to sustaining the government against disunion, and, as counsel and director of the New Jersey railroad companies, he assisted very materially in forwarding troops and military supplies. On several occasions he accompanied new regiments to the field, and addressed them on the pending issues. In 1862, with much reluctance, he accepted the republican nomination for congress in the sixth congressional district of New Jersey; but so strongly democratic was the district that he was defeated. In 1868 he headed the New Jersey republican electoral ticket. He is an accomplished mathematician, familiar with the higher and more abstruse processes of mathematical investigation, and not infrequently amuses himself by indulgence in such pursuits. In 1844 he married Mary, daughter of Chief Justice Hornblower, of New Jersey, by whom he has two sons and two daughters.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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