Friday, October 18, 2013

Roujet DeLisle Marshall (1846-1922)

From the Autobiography of Roujet D. Marshall, Volume 1.

   A distinguished figure in Wisconsin law circles for over forty years, Roujet DeLisle Marshall  is in all probability is the oddest named individual to have served as a member of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court! A native of Nashua, New Hampshire, Roujet (or Rouget) D. Marshall was born in that city on December 27, 1846, the youngest of three sons born to Thomas and Emeline Marshall. He received his unusual first and middle names in honor of the distinguished Frenchman Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836), an army officer who authored the French national anthem "Le Marseilles", and one can wonder if Marshall himself was ever asked the origins of his intriguing name!
  The Marshall family called Nashua home until 1854, when they removed to Wisconsin, settling in the town of Delton in Sauk County. Roujet worked the family farm during his youth whilst also attending the Delton Academy. He was later a student at the Baraboo Collegiate Institute in the city of Baraboo, and continued his education at the Lawrence College. Marshall began studying law at age 17 and was admitted to the Wisconsin bar several years after commencing his studies. Marshall married in 1869 to British native Mary E. Jenkins (1848-1939), and the couple are believed to have been childless throughout the length of their fifty-plus years of marriage.

 A six month old Roujet Marshall and family, from Marshall's 1918 autobiography.

   Following the completion of his law studies Marshall and his wife settled in Chippewa Falls and within a short time had opened a law practice in this city. In addition to being a lawyer Marshall wasted no time becoming politically involved in Chippewa Falls, serving as a justice of the peace as well as being a school board member. He was appointed as Chippewa County judge in 1876 at age 29 and was later elected to a four year term of his own. In the early 1880s he operated a law practice with attorney John Jenkins and in 1884 won a seat on the Wisconsin University Board of Regents, where he served for five years.
  While still serving on the Board of Regents Marshall was elected as a Circuit Court Judge of for Wisconsin's Eleventh District. His six year tenure on this court is noted as one of constant work by the 2003 Portraits of Justice: The Wisconsin Supreme Court's First 150 Years, with further notice being given that "almost every day he opened court at 8 A.M. and closed around 11:30 P.M."  Marshall's service on the circuit court lasted until 1895, when then Wisconsin Governor William Upham appointed him to the State Supreme Court to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Chief Justice Harlow South Orton, who had died a few weeks previously. 

Marshall around the time of his appointment to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, circa 1896.

   In April 1896 Marshall won election to a term of his own on the court and during his 22 year tenure was regarded as one of the court's most prominent conservative voices. His long tenure coincided with changing times in America, and with the advent of progressive reforms throughout the United States in the 1910s his judicial philosophy was viewed by some as outdated. In 1915 the court heard the Forestry Case, and rendered a decision that "struck down a group of Progressive laws that created a state forest reserve in the state's logged out north woods and allocated funds to purchase lands for the reserve." Judge Marshall, being the court's leading conservative voice, went as far as to try and persuade his fellow justices to declare this progressive legislation as unconstitutional, and even though the court struck down these laws, Marshall had inadvertently damaged his own public career by speaking out against these reforms.
  Running for reelection in November 1917, Roujet D. Marshall lost his seat on the court to the man who had argued the Forestry Case in front of the court, Wisconsin Attorney General Walter Cecil Owen (1868-1934). By the time of his leaving the Supreme Court in 1918 Marshall had authored 1,317 opinions, this according to the Marquette Law Review, and this same work notes that "his esteemed judicial service rendered on the Supreme Bench of this state, and his enviable record has built for him a vast and splendid monument on which the bench and bar may gaze with admiration forever."

Roujet Marshall late in his Supreme Court service.

   In the year of his defeat Marshall had been elected as the President of the Wisconsin State Bar Association and served in this post until 1918. Marshall also took to writing a lengthy two-volume autobiography that was eventually published a few years after his death, which occurred in Madison, Wisconsin on May 22, 1922. His obituary in the Madison State Journal notes that Marshall had been confined to the Methodist Hospital in Madison due to an illness of "several months." He was later interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison and was survived by his wife Mary, who died in 1939 at age 90.

From the Madison State Record, May 23, 1922.

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