Justice Mortimer M. JacksonWisconsin Supreme Court Justice: 1848–1853
"In all his social, personal, and official relations Judge Jackson was eminently a polite, courtly, dignified gentleman of the old school; treating at all times his associates and acquaintances with the kindest and most respectful consideration." – Silas U. Pinney, Jackson's memorial service (1891)
Mortimer Melville Jackson was born March 5, 1809, in Rensselaerville, New York. He attended college in New York City.
While a merchant in New York, Jackson became an active member and vice president of the Mercantile Library Association. In 1834, he organized a delegation to the Young Men's New York State Whig Convention.
Jackson moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in 1838. He established a law practice and settled disputes in the lead mining industry. In 1841, he was appointed attorney general of the Wisconsin Territory and held the office until 1846.
In 1848, Jackson was elected circuit judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit, covering one-third of the state. Pursuant to the state constitution, he joined the four other circuit judges to form the first Wisconsin Supreme Court. Jackson traveled vast distances to fill his duties as circuit judge and Supreme Court justice.
When Levi Hubbell's term as chief justice expired in 1851, Jackson was voted chief justice by his colleagues. He declined to serve in favor of Edward V. Whiton. Jackson continued his dual role as a circuit judge and Supreme Court justice until the state organized a separate Supreme Court in 1853.
Early in the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Jackson as U.S. diplomat to Canada, where he served for 21 years. Jackson returned to Madison in 1884. In his will, he donated $20,000 to the University of Wisconsin Law School to create a professorship in his name.
Jackson was married to Catherine Garr. He died October 13, 1889.