Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CLIFFORD, Nathan, jurist, born in Rumnev, New Hampshire, 18 August, 1803; died in Cornish, Me, 25 July, 1881. He received his earlv education at the Haverhill, New Hampshire, academy, and later supported himself while studying at the Hampton literary institution. After graduation he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and settled in York county, Maine, in 1827. From 1830 till 1834 he was a member of the Maine legislature, and during the last two years was speaker. He was a member of the Democratic Party, and was considered one of its ablest leaders. In 1834 he was appointed attorney general of Maine, an office which he filled until 1838, when he was elected to congress and served for two terms, from 2 December, 1839, till 3 March, 1843. During the presidential canvass of 1840 he advocated the re-election of Martin Van Buren, and met in public discussion many of the most distinguished Whig orators, gaining for himself the reputation of being one of the most eloquent champions of the democracy- In 1846 Mr. Clifford became attorney general in President Polk's cabinet. In arranging the terms of peace between Mexico and the United States, he went to Mexico as the United States commissioner, with the powers of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary ; and through him the treaty was arranged with the Mexican government, by which California became a part of the United States. He served from 18 March, 1848, till 6 September, 1849, after which he returned to Maine and resumed his law practice. In 1858 he was nominated as an associate justice of the Supreme Court by President Buchanan. To the people of Maine this appointment gave great satisfaction, as he was not only the first cabinet officer from that state, but also the only representative she ever had in the Supreme Court. In 1877, as the oldest associate judge, he became president of the electoral commission convened early in that year. Although a firm believer in Mr. Tilden's election he conducted the proceedings with perfect impartiality. Subsequent to the inauguration of President Hayes he refrained from visiting the executive mansion. In October, 1880, he was attacked with a serious illness, a complication of disorders arose, and it became necessary to amputate one of his feet in consequence of gangrene. From this illness he never recovered. He published " United States Circuit Court Reports" (2 vols., Boston, 1869).
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