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Humphrey H. Leavitt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Humphrey H. Leavitt
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
In office
February 10, 1855 – April 1, 1871
Appointed byoperation of law
Preceded bySeat established by 10 Stat. 604
Succeeded byPhilip Bergen Swing
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio
In office
June 30, 1834 – February 10, 1855
Appointed byAndrew Jackson
Preceded byBenjamin Tappan
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 19th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – July 10, 1834
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byDaniel Kilgore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 11th district
In office
December 6, 1830 – March 3, 1833
Preceded byJohn M. Goodenow
Succeeded byJames Martin Bell
Member of the Ohio Senate
from the Jefferson County district
In office
December 3, 1827 – December 6, 1829
Preceded byWilliam Lowery
Succeeded byHenry Swearingen
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the Jefferson County district
In office
December 5, 1825 – December 3, 1826
Serving with William Hamilton
Preceded byWilliam Hamilton
William Lowery
Succeeded byJames R. Wells
John McLaughlin
Personal details
Humphrey Howe Leavitt

(1796-06-18)June 18, 1796
Suffield, Connecticut
DiedMarch 15, 1873(1873-03-15) (aged 76)
Springfield, Ohio
Resting placeSpring Grove Cemetery
Cincinnati, Ohio
Political partyJacksonian Democrat
ChildrenJohn McDowell Leavitt
FatherJohn Leavitt
Educationread law

Humphrey Howe Leavitt (June 18, 1796 – March 15, 1873) was a United States Representative from Ohio and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Education and career

Born on June 18, 1796, in Suffield, Connecticut,[1] Leavitt moved with his family to the Northwest Territory in 1800, and settled in what would become Trumbull County, Ohio.[2] He completed preparatory studies, attended an academy in western Pennsylvania, taught school and clerked in a store.[2] He read law and was admitted to the bar in 1816.[1] He served in the United States Army during the War of 1812.[1] He entered private practice in Cadiz, Ohio from 1816 to 1820.[1] He was a Justice of the peace in Harrison County, Ohio from 1818 to 1820.[1] He was prosecutor of Monroe County, Ohio from 1818 to 1820.[1] He resumed private practice in Steubenville, Ohio from 1820 to 1823.[1] He was prosecutor for Jefferson County, Ohio from 1823 to 1829.[1] He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1825 to 1826.[1] He was a member of the Ohio Senate from 1827 to 1828.[1] He was clerk of the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas and Ohio Supreme Court from 1829 to 1832.[1]

Congressional service

Leavitt was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat from Ohio's 11th congressional district and Ohio's 19th congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 21st United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of United States Representative John M. Goodenow.[2] He was reelected to the 22nd and 23rd United States Congresses and served from December 6, 1830, until July 10, 1834, when he resigned to accept a judicial position.[2]

Federal judicial service

Letter from President Abraham Lincoln to United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton discussing Judge Humphrey Leavitt's decision in habeas corpus case
Letter from President Abraham Lincoln to United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton discussing Judge Humphrey Leavitt's decision in habeas corpus case

Leavitt was nominated by President Andrew Jackson on June 28, 1834, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Ohio vacated by Judge Benjamin Tappan.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 28, 1834, and received his commission on June 30, 1834.[1] Leavitt was reassigned by operation of law to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on February 10, 1855, to a new seat authorized by 10 Stat. 604.[1] His service terminated on April 1, 1871, due to his retirement.[1][3]

Notable case

Among the major cases in which Leavitt was involved was that of Ohio politician Clement Vallandigham, in which Leavitt wrote an opinion on Vallandigham's well-known habeas corpus case, which Leavitt decided.[3]

Later activities and death

Leavitt moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, upon his reassignment to the Southern District of Ohio in 1855.[2] He moved to Springfield, Ohio following his retirement in 1871.[2] He engaged in literary pursuits after his retirement.[2] He was a member of the World's Convention on Prison Reform in London, England in 1872.[2] He died on March 15, 1873, in Springfield.[1] He was interred in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.[2]


Born to an old New England family involved in the purchase of the Western Reserve from the state of Connecticut, Leavitt parents were Captain John Wheeler Leavitt and Silence (Fitch) Leavitt.[4] The town of Leavittsburg in Trumbull County was named for the family.[5] Leavitt was married to Marie Antoinette (McDowell) Leavitt, daughter of Dr. John McDowell, a physician, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania and Governor of Pennsylvania.[3] Humphey Howe and Marie Leavitt had three sons, including John McDowell Leavitt, all born at Steubenville.[3]


In a short memoir Leavitt wrote for his children, he described his feelings about a Congressman's job, which he described as "positively irksome and repulsive." Leavitt added: "In times of party division, it is impossible for anyone in Congress to preserve a conscience void of offense toward God and at the same time to bear true allegiance to the party by which he has been elected. The member must vote with his party irrespective of the public good or expect to be visited with the fiercest denunciation."[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Humphrey Howe Leavitt at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i United States Congress. "Humphrey Howe Leavitt (id: L000183)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ a b c d "Humphrey Howe Leavitt – History of the Sixth Circuit". United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20.
  4. ^ Upton, Harriet Taylor (1910). Cutler, Harry Gardner (ed.). History of the Western Reserve. 1. New York: The Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 155, 156. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Dwight, Benjamin Woodbridge (10 June 1874). The History of the Descendants of John Dwight, of Dedham, Mass. J. F. Trow & son, printers and bookbinders. p. 412 – via Internet Archive. humphrey howe leavitt.
  6. ^ Prominent Families of New York, Reissued by BiblioBazaar LLC, 2009 ISBN 978-1-115-37228-2


Further reading

  • The Ohio officer and justices' guide : embracing the duties of justices of the peace, constables, and other township officers : including officers acting under the school law, with appropriate forms : also, directions and forms for executors, administrators & guardians, with treatises on the law of partnership and bailment, and the duties and liabilities of common carriers, carriers of passengers, and innkeepers : with a collection of forms of deeds, articles of agreement, bonds, powers of attorney, wills, &c. &c., Humphrey H. Leavitt, Printed by J. Turnbull, Steubenville, Ohio, 1843

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John M. Goodenow
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
James Martin Bell
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 19th congressional district

Succeeded by
Daniel Kilgore
Legal offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Tappan
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Preceded by
Seat established by 10 Stat. 604
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Succeeded by
Philip Bergen Swing
This page was last edited on 22 December 2020, at 04:00
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