Harry Andrew Blackmun was born in Nashville, Illinois on November 12th 1908. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota where his father owned a hardware store downtown. His family was of modest means, but Blackmun has suggested that their circumstances ?didn?t do me any harm at all.? He and Chief Justice Burger were boyhood friends and were often dubbed the ?Minnesota Twins? after the baseball team. The two grew up together and throughout their life have always had similar liberal viewpoints.
Harry graduated from Harvard Law School in 1929 with a degree in Mathematics. He received a tuition scholarship from the Harvard Club of Minnesota and earned the rest of his money by working odd jobs ranging from delivering milk to grading math papers. He received his law degree in 1934 and was a member of a large law firm in Minneapolis from 1934 until 1950. Blackmun at first considered becoming a physician, but ultimately decided on a career in law and received his LL.B.
degree from Harvard.
In 1950 he became resident council at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He remained in that post until 1959, a period he described as the happiest decade in his life, mostly because it gave him ?a foot in both clamps?law and medicine.? His association with the Mayo Clinic enhanced his reputation as a serious, hard-working, and capable attorney.
Blackmun clerked for John B. Sandborn, a judge on the U.S. circuit court in St. Paul, for a year and a half. He then spent sixteen years in private practice in Minneapolis with friends Dorsey, Coleman, Barker, Scott, and Barber, specializing in the ?characteristically precise fields? of taxation, trusts and estates, and civil litigation. During this time from 1941 to 1947 Mr. Blackmun also taught at the St. Paul College of law at the...