John B. Cassoday (1830-1907)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
Chief Justice (1895-1907)
"To him there was a sacredness about judicial decisions. He respected the precedents found in the adjudicated cases, and depended upon them more than upon philosophical consideration of the law involved in the case which he had under consideration." - E. Ray Stevens, proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (1908)
John B. Cassoday was born July 7, 1830, in Fairfield, New York. At an early age, he and his widowed mother moved to Pennsylvania. In 1856, he graduated from Albany Law School in New York state and later moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, to establish a law practice.
During his 23 years of private practice, Cassoday was twice elected to the Wisconsin Assembly and served one term as speaker. He was a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1864 (when President Abraham Lincoln was nominated for a second term) and again in 1880.
Cassoday was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1880. He took his appointment seriously, E. Ray Stevens said at the Proceedings of the State Historical Society in 1908: "Upon his appointment to the bench he gave up active participation in affairs outside the courtroom; his church, [the] State Historical Society, and the State University standing almost alone as exceptions to this rule of conduct."
Cassoday's association with the State Historical Society included nearly 20 years as a member of its Board of Curators and a term as its vice-president in 1896. He gave generous financial support to its library and museum. His involvement at the University of Wisconsin was equally impressive; he taught constitutional law for 18 years.
Cassoday and his wife Mary Spalding had five children.
He died December 30, 1907.