Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Clifford, Nathan

Nathan Clifford, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (second from left)

Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice, U.S.; Hon. Nathan Clifford, Maine; Stephen J. Field, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Hon. Samuel F. Miller, U.S. Supreme Court; Hon. Noah H. Swayne, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Judge Morrison R. Waite, U.S. Supreme Court, between about 1860 and1865.

(1803-1881) was a U.S. Representative who was born in Rumney, New Hampshire on August 18, 1803. He attended the public schools of Rumney, the Haverhill (New Hampshire) Academy, and New Hampton Literary Institute. He taught school and gave vocal lessons, then studied law in New York, was admitted to the bar, and began his practice in Newfield in 1824.

A member of the Maine House of Representatives (1830-1834), he served as Speaker the last two years, and as Attorney General 1834-1838.

Elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1843), Clifford was not a candidate for renomination in 1842. He became Attorney General of the United States in the Cabinet of President Polk and served from October 17, 1846, to March 17, 1848.

He was commissioner to Mexico, with the rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, from March 18, 1848, to September 6, 1849. Through him the treaty was arranged with the Mexican Government by which California became a part of the United States.

He resumed the practice of law in Portland and later was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on January 28, 1858. He served in that post until his death in Cornish on July 25, 1881, with interment in Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine.

Additional resources

Clifford, Nathan. Speech of Mr. Clifford, of Maine, on the Apportionment Bill: delivered in House of Representatives, April 28, 1842. Washington, Globe Office. 1842. [Orono. University of Maine. Raymond H. Fogler Library. Special Collections.]

Clifford, Philip G. Nathan Clifford, Democrat, 1803-1881. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922.

Nathan Clifford. Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder. 1898. [Maine State Library]

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