Courts in the Classroom
Supreme Court of Indiana
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dr. Elizabeth R. Osborn
Court History and
Public Education Programs
History Project Award
from the National Council
on Public History
Justice Stevens was born in Kentucky in 1793, and died November 7, 1870,
He came to Brookville, Indiana, sometime before 1812. During the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans, he received a musket ball wound to the head which troubled him the rest of his life, and probably caused his insanity in old age.506 After the war, he returned to Brookville, studied law, and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1817.507 He represented Franklin County in the Indiana General Assembly in 1817. Renowned for his quick temper, he fought with Senator Noble in the Franklin Circuit Court in 1817, and both were fined five dollars.508
Justice Stevens moved to Vevay, Indiana in 1817 and helped organize a local branch of the state bank, serving as its president.509 When the bank failed, Justice Stevens returned to the practice of law. From 1823 to 1824, and again from 1826 to 1827, he represented Switzerland County in the Indiana House of Representatives. He held the position of speaker during 1824. In 1828, he was elected to the Indiana Senate, where he served until his appointment to the Indiana Supreme Court in 1830. He served on the Indiana Supreme Court from January 28, 1831 to May 30, 1836, when he resigned to open a law office in Madison, Indiana. He amassed quite a fortune but lost it in a failed railroad investment.510 As a result, he was placed in the state mental hospital where he died penniless.511 It was said that the Indianapolis bar paid for his burial.512
505. 1 MONKS, supra note 25, at 84; WOOLEN, supra note 129, at 357; but see 1
BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY, supra note 55, at 371-72 (stating that Stevens died in 1869).
506. 1 MONKS, supra note 25, at 195.
507. 1 id. at 196.
508. 1 id.
509. 1 id.
510. 1 id. at 84, 195-97.
511. 1 id. at 197.
512. 1 id.
Source: Browning, Minde C., Richard Humphrey, and Bruce Kleinschmidt. "Biographical Sketches of Indiana Supreme Court Justices." Indiana Law Review: Vol. 30, No. 1, 1997. View this source in PDF format.