Melville Weston Fuller
February 11, 1833 — July 4, 1910
Eighth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
Melville Weston Fuller, an Augusta native, returned to the city following his graduation from Harvard Law School. Here he briefly practiced law, held municipal offices, edited a newspaper and then migrated to Chicago, where he became one of its leading trial lawyers.
President Grover Cleveland nominated Fuller to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1888, a post Fuller held for twenty-two years. Fuller was an able administrator of the Court and established the tradition of each Justice greeting and shaking hands with every other Justice prior to case conferences. This tradition has persisted and has encouraged comity among the Justices.
A tactful and self-effacing jurist, Fuller often assigned the more important opinions to Justices other than himself in order to promote a sense of teamwork within the Court. Following his death the bar and the judiciary eulogized him as one who, with few exceptions, successfully led the Court through the challenges of the post-Civil War years and the growth of the American economy.