Tag Archives: Robert H. Jackson

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.


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: 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: Holidays & Memories

Thank you all, the past year’s many newcomers and all of the past years’ veterans.  I truly appreciate your interest in the Jackson List, your “forwards,” your recruitments of new subscribers, and your comments.

For your reading in this season, here are some previous Jackson List posts that relate to the holidays:

  • “Heartfelt Words, Good Will & Wishes True (1913) (click here)
  • “Christmas Cards from Nuremberg (November 1945)” (click here)
  • “Lighting the First Candle:  Holocaust Film and Chanukah at Nuremberg, 1945” (click here)
  • “Holiday Note, Chief to Staff (December 1945)” (click here)
  • “Jackson in the Holiday Season” (click here)
  • “Christmas Celebration, Nuremberg, 1945” (click here)
  • “Jackson on Holiday in Athens, December 22, 1945” (click here)
  • “Supreme Court at Christmastime (1951)” (click here)

These and many more posts are on the Jackson List archive site, which is word- and phrase-searchable:  http://thejacksonlist.com/.   (Thank you, Michael Zhang.)

Lindenstrasse Christmas party

*          *          *

On this date in 1945, Justice Jackson, as United States chief of counsel in Nuremberg, was one month into trial work before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), prosecuting the principal Nazi war criminals.

Last month, on the 70th anniversary of the trial’s commencement, I had the honor of participating in the City of Nuremberg’s commemoration event, held in Palace of Justice Courtroom 600, the trial site.  After delivering an introductory lecture, I moderated a conversation with three men who worked in the IMT trial process:

  • Yves Beigbeder, then an assistant to the French judge;
  • Father Moritz Fuchs, then the bodyguard of Justice Jackson; and
  • George Sakheim, then a U.S. interpreter and translator.

For streaming video of the event, click here.  After welcoming remarks (in German) from Nuremberg’s Lord Mayor and then the Vice President of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court, my lecture (in English) begins at 16:45, followed by the group conversation (in English) beginning at 30:40.

The conversation was and is, thanks to these great men and their memories, quite wonderful and very powerful.  I encourage you, in a quiet time during your (I hope) holiday break, to view it.  It shines new light on the enduring importance of the international decision to conduct a Nuremberg trial as the decision makers and participants of 1945 and 1946 did; on the principles that they followed and advanced; on the evidentiary proof that they gathered and presented, for the case and for history; and on how all of that is a young, growing, hopeful part of our time and the years ahead.

Jackson List: The Nuremberg Trial Begins (1945)

This post now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: James B. Donovan, Before the “Bridge of Spies”

This post now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

19450808 RHJ JBD

Jackson List:  First Mondays

This post now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.  It includes direct links to other “First Monday” Jackson List posts.

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: Messages for Democrats (August 1940)

This post, including a historic postcard image of Celoron’s Pier Ball Room, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Choosing Courtroom 600 (July 1945)

This post, with a July 21, 1945, photograph of Justice Jackson and his travel party arriving at an airfield near Nuremberg, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List:  A Supreme Court Justice Resigns (June 1945)

This post, with some footnotes and a photograph of Justice Roberts’s June 30, 1945, retirement letter to Chief Justice Stone, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.