David J. Brewer, jurist, was born in Smyrna, Asia Minor, June 30, 1837, son of Josiah and Amelia (Field) Brewer. His father was an American missionary and his mother was a daughter of Rev. David Dudley Field, of Stockbridge, Mass. During his infancy his parents returned to America and located at Westerfield, Conn. After finishing the public schools he attended the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Conn., later entered Yale in the junior year and graduated in 1856. He studied law with his uncle, David Dudley Field, entered the Albany Law School, from which he graduated in 1858. In order to carve out a career of his own and not be known merely as his uncle's nephew, he came west, stopping first at St. Louis, then at Kansas City, where he contracted the gold fever and went to Pike's Peak. Returning to Kansas City and not finding an opening he located at Leavenworth, in 1859, having but sixty-five cents left. In 1861 he was appointed United States commissioner of the circuit court of the district of Kansas; from 1862 to 1865 he was judge of the probate and criminal courts of Leavenworth; became judge of the First judicial district in 1864, and in 1871 was elected to the supreme bench of Kansas as associate justice, reëlected in 1876 and again in 1882, resigning in 1844. In that year he was appointed by President Arthur to the United States circuit court as judge in the Eighth judicial circuit. In December, 1889, President Harrison appointed Judge Brewer associate justice of the United States supreme court to succeed Justice Stanley Matthews, who was deceased. In 1890 he became a lecturer on corporation law at the University of Columbia in New York. In 1896, when President Cleveland made up the board of commissioners to investigate the boundary troubles between Venezuela and British Guiana, Justice Brewer was one of the members, and when the board organized for business he was elected the presiding officer. The next year he and Justice Fuller were arbitrators in behalf of Venezuela in the same matter with Great Britain. He was president of the universal congress of lawyers and jurists at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904.
Judge Brewer made corporation law his specialty and rendered most valuable service in the corporation cases in the supreme court. So largely was his knowledge depended upon in these matters that his death, in March, 1910, left the Government in a quandary as to how to dispose of the Standard Oil and Tobacco cases then pending. Some of his most important work was done in the interests of Kansas women, one of his decisions resulting in the establishment of the eligibility of women to the office of county superintendent of public instruction, another in the recognition and sustaining of the right of married women to property belonging to them before marriage, and to the wages earned by them after marriage. Among his literary works were: "The Pew and the Pulpit," "The Twentieth Century from Another Viewpoint," "American Citizenship," and "The United States as a Christian Nation." He held a great many advanced views, was an ardent advocate for woman suffrage, and as a churchman was broad minded. The degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him by Washburn, Iowa and Yale colleges. Judge Brewer married Louise R. Landon, of Burlington, Vt., in 1861, who died in April, 1898. In June, 1901, he married Emma Minor Mott, of Washington, D. C., who survived him at his death. Although he lived in the city of Washington for many years he never ceased to recognize Leavenworth as his home, and the people of that place always claimed him as a resident. His body was brought back to Leavenworth and was met at the depot by more than 1,200 citizens. Business was suspended and the flag floated at half-mast. It was said that he was the most democratic of all supreme court judges.Pages 31-32 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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