Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was born on March 8, 1841 in Boston, Massachusetts, and was named for his famous father, the writer and physician. Since he had much intellect, humor, and ability to express himself helped Holmes direct American thought as a member of the United States Supreme Court for over 30 years.

At the end of his service in the American Civil War Holmes entered Harvard Law School. Early in his career he became co-editor of the "American Law Review," a commercial legal periodical, and wrote his great work "The Common-Law" in 1881. In 1882 Holmes became professor of law at Harvard, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1899. On the U.S. Supreme Court, he advocated judicial restrain. From his eloquent and frequent disagreements with his more conservative colleagues over the nullification of social legislation, Holmes came to be known as the Great Dissenter.

He retired from the Court on January 12, 1932 and was the oldest man to have ever served on the court. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the United States Supreme Court in 1902. Holmes's judicial philosophy was his opinion that, "The life of the law has not been logic, but experience." He insisted that the court look at the facts in a changing society, instead of clinging to worn-out slogans and formulas. Holmes convinced people that the law should develop along with the society it serves. He exercised a deep influence on the law through his support of the doctrine of "judicial restraint" which urged judges to avoid letting their personal opinions affect their decisions.

Holmes accomplished a lot of things within his life. One of the weird things about his life is that he wrote a letter to his one friend Lewis Einstein a few years before...