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Stephen Johnson Field

Field, Stephen Johnson, 1816–99, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1863–97), b. Haddam, Conn. After practicing law for several years in New York City with his brother David Dudley Field, he went to California in 1849, settled at Marysville, and in 1850 was elected to the legislature. He secured the passage of an act reorganizing the state judiciary and drafted codes of civil and criminal procedure based on his brother's codes for New York but adapted to certain local needs, such as established Spanish customs and miners' practices. His recommendations became the basis of mining law in all of the Western states and territories. In 1857, Field was elected as a Democrat to the California supreme court, becoming chief justice two years later. President Lincoln appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1863. A staunch conservative, he opposed government regulation of business activities and played a major role in the Supreme Court's extension of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to include corporations.

See his Personal Reminiscences of Early Days in California (1880, repr. 1968); biography by C. B. Swisher (1930, repr. 1963).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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