Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CUSHING, William, jurist, born in Scituate. Massachusetts, 1 March 1732; died there, 13 September 1S10. He was graduated at Harvard in 1751, studied law with Jeremy Gridley, became attorney general of Massachusetts, was appointed judge of probate of Lincoln County, Maine, in 1768, became judge of the Massachusetts superior court in 1772, chief justice in 1777, and in 1780 was chosen the first chief justice of Massachusetts under the state constitution. At the beginning of the Revolution he stood almost alone among the superior officials in supporting the cause of independence. His grandfather and his father (both named John) were judges of the superior court, and his father, whom he succeeded as chief justice, presided over the trial of British soldiers for the Boston massacre of 5 March 1770. On 27 September 1789, Judge Cushing was appointed an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. President Washington nominated him chief justice in 1796, but he declined, He was one of the founders of the American academy of arts and sciences in 1780. In 1788 he was vice-president of the Massachusetts convention that ratified the federal constitution.
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