Iredell, James

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Iredell, James

Iredell, James (1751-1799) Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: James Iredell was born in England, on October 5, 1750. The son of a Bristol merchant, he left his native country ad went to North Carolina at the age of 17. After his arrival, he was appointed deputy collector of the port of Edenton. He studied law with Samuel Johnston, married Johnston's sister in 1773, and became a licensed lawyer in 1775. Iredell soon acquired a solid reputation as a lawyer, and held the office of collector of customs at Edenton from 1774 until the Revolutionary War. Rather than keep his position, or claim a large inheritance in the West Indies, Iredell chose to stay in North Carolina and support the patriot cause. In 1777, he was elected a judge of the superior court, but resigned after less than a year. In 1779, he became attorney-general of North Carolina, but soon resigned. During the Revolutionary War, he advised Whig leaders such as William Hooper and Samuel Johnston. In 1787, the assembly appointed him a commissioner to compile and revise the state's laws. The next year, Iredell, a leader of the Federalists in North Carolina, argued for the ratification of the US Constitution. He and his allies were unsuccessful in obtaining ratification, and North Carolina became the only one of the 13 original states to fail to ratify the federal Constitution. President Washington appointed Iredell am Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1790. In the Supreme Court case of Chisholm v. Georgia, Iredell delivered a dissenting opinion, asserting federal courts could not exercise jurisdiction over a state in a suit brought by a private person. He also delivered a dissenting opinion related to writs of error in the case of Wilson v. Daniels, which was later used in subsequent Supreme Court rulings. A county was named after him in 1788, and many of his addresses to grand juries were published. Iredell died on October 20, 1799, in Edenton, North Carolina.