Tag Archives: Irene Jackson

Jackson List: Inaugurations and Change (1949 & 1953)

On the morning of January 20, 1949, Justice Robert H. Jackson and his wife Irene drove in to Washington from their Hickory Hill home in McLean, Virginia.

At the Supreme Court building, they met their friends Floyd Odlum and Jacqueline Cochran (a businessman and a famous aviatrix and businesswoman, respectively), who were visiting from California.  Later, they crossed First Street, Northeast, to the U.S. Capitol.  They sat – separately, Jackson with fellow justices, Irene with Floyd and Jackie – in V.I.P. seats and watched the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman.  Justice Jackson wore a small black cap, custom-made, from Livingston’s, a store in downtown Washington.

In Chicago, a young woman named Betty Stevens was one of many who watched the 1949 presidential inauguration ceremony on television.  She was especially pleased to see two Supreme Court justices, Jackson and Wiley Rutledge, “walking along gaily chatting.”  Her husband, Chicago attorney John Paul Stevens, had clerked for Justice Rutledge a year earlier, and Mrs. Stevens was happy to see that he appeared to “be in excellent health and spirits.”

Nearly four years later, General (ret.) Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected to succeed President Truman.  He, a Republican, would become president after twenty years of presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt, and then Truman) from the Democratic Party.

In late 1952, Jackie Cochran wrote to her friend Bob Jackson.  She asked if she and Floyd could be Jackson’s guests at the impending Eisenhower presidential inauguration.

Jackson, after checking, wrote back to her in late December 1952:

Dear Jackie:

I have inquired of the Marshal [of the Supreme Court] and so far as I can learn we can carry out this year the same program that we did at the last inauguration – which was that you and Floyd came to the Court and we went from here together.  I think that will work out this time, although it may be something different.  You know the slogan, “It’s time for a change,” and they do have to provide this year for two Cabinets and two sets of officers, incoming and outgoing, and two Presidents’ parties, whereas before there was only one.

The Inauguration Day, January 20, 1953, was indeed different.  On that Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court had an official session.  The justices took the bench and admitted attorneys to the Supreme Court bar.  The Court then adjourned to attend, as it had four years earlier, the inauguration as a body.

At the oath-taking ceremony, the Justices, all bare-headed, walked in procession from the Capitol rotunda to the platform, in pairs according to their seniority on the Court.  Justice Jackson walked with Justice William O. Douglas, smiling and talking.

Later that afternoon, the justices returned to the Court and reconvened briefly in official session.  They did not hear oral argument in any of the ten cases they had, the previous day, put on call for January 20th.  They sent “home” the attorneys who were assembled and prepared to argue those cases, putting them over until the next day.

It appears that Jackson was able to arrange for Floyd Odlum and Jackie Cochran to attend President Eisenhower’s 1953 inauguration.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Jackson List: Albany Wedding (1916)

In summer 1911, Robert H. Jackson was a nineteen-year-old high school graduate who was working to become a lawyer.  He had spent the past year as an apprentice to two Jamestown, New York, lawyers (one of whom was Jackson’s distant relative by his widowed grandmother’s late in life remarriage).

To complement that preparation, Jackson decided to spend the coming academic year as a student at Albany Law School.  It was a strong, independent, long-established law school with a two-year academic program.  It decided, in admitting Jackson, to give him credit for his year as a law apprentice—in effect, Albany admitted Jackson to its “senior” class as a transfer student.

At Albany Law School, Robert Jackson was a serious, very successful student.  He also had a social life.  A classmate introduced his cousin, Irene Alice Gerhardt of Kingston, New York, to Jackson.  She, a year-plus older than he, was a business (secretarial) school graduate who worked as a stenographer in New York State’s excise department.  She was a smart and quick witted, literary, athletic, and strikingly beautiful—and Robert Jackson fell in love.  They dated, including on ice skates at Albany’s Washington Park.  They attended dances.  She was Jackson’s date at Albany Law School’s graduation in June 1912.

Following that academic year, Jackson returned to western New York while Miss Gerhardt remained in Albany.  He resumed apprenticing for the Jamestown lawyers, who let him take on increasing responsibilities.  In 1913, when he had reached the required age of twenty-one, Jackson took and passed New York’s bar examination and was admitted to law practice.  He then commenced solo practice in Jamestown.  He struggled at first but soon attracted local notice and paying clients, then higher profile clients and cases, growing regional renown, and, in time, a variety of offers to practice with others.

As Jackson established himself professionally, he also continued to court Irene Gerhardt on the other side of New York State.  They wrote many letters.  Each visited the other occasionally, with chaperones present of course—Irene came to meet Jackson’s family in Frewsburg, New York, his boyhood home south of Jamestown, for example, and at least once he spent the Christmas holidays with Irene and her mother Margaret Gerhardt, a widow who had moved to Albany.

Mrs. Gerhardt, at first concerned that Jackson was “too skinny,” apparently came to approve of him.  As 1916 began, she announced her daughter Irene’s engagement to Mr. Jackson, and that their wedding would take place in the springtime.

RHJ & IGJ in Spring Creek (front)

On Monday, April 24, 1916—one hundred years ago today, which then was the day following Easter Sunday—Irene Gerhardt (age 25) and Robert Jackson (age 24) were married in St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Church, a grand edifice at State and Lodge Streets in Albany.  The Reverend Dr. Charles C. Harriman, rector of the church, officiated.  The ceremony, held at noontime, was a small one.  Frank H. Mott, the Jamestown lawyer to whom Jackson was distantly related and for whom he apprenticed, was his protégé’s best man (and Mott gave the bride, as a wedding gift, a book on how to keep house.)  Irene wore a blue traveling suit and hat and carried flowers.  Her sister Elizabeth (Betty) was her bridesmaid.

Following the wedding, Mrs. Gerhardt hosted a luncheon at her Albany home for the newlyweds.

Later that afternoon, the Jacksons left on a honeymoon trip to New York City and points south, including Washington, D.C.

In June 1916, they became Jamestown residents.  They soon moved to Buffalo, where Robert practiced law during 1917 and 1918.  They returned to Jamestown that fall, when Irene was expecting their first child (their son William Eldred Jackson).  Soon he had a sister (Mary Margaret Jackson).

The Jacksons lived in Jamestown fulltime for about fifteen more years.  During those years, they returned to Albany regularly to visit Irene’s mother.

And in 1934, of course, they returned to Washington, when President Roosevelt nominated and the Senate confirmed Robert H. Jackson’s first (of five) appointments to high federal office.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world.  I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics.  The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu.  Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Jackson List: President Eisenhower & Justice Jackson’s Funeral (1954)

This post, tweaked and with some citation footnotes added, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Four Freedoms, Newly Alive at Seventy-Five

Today marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941, State of the Union address—the “Four Freedoms” speech.

In a Jackson List post five years ago (click here), I described the occasion and the speech—and the presence, in the first row of the House chamber, of Attorney General Robert H. Jackson.

I continue to recommend the following resource links, all on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum website:

In addition, or first, please watch this newly enhanced, audio-synced, High Definition video of that key passage in the speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrNDwyj4u1w.

In this post, Paul M. Sparrow, Director of the FDR Library, describes the creation of this new treasure:   http://fdr.blogs.archives.gov/2016/01/06/four_freedoms/.

Jackson List: A Justice Back, A Justice Welcomed, A Justice Away (September 1945)

This post, including images of Justice Felix Frankfurter’s September 19, 1945, three-page handwritten letter to new Justice Harold H. Burton, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Fortieth Wedding Anniversary (1945)

This post, tweaked a little and containing a few footnotes and a photograph of the Roosevelts with Princes Juliana, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.