Judge Henry Billings Brown

A leading authority on maritime law in the Great Lakes, Henry Billings Brown succeeded Judge Longyear in 1875. He served until 1890 when he moved up to the United States Supreme Court where he wrote the “separate but equal” opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson later overturned by Brown v. Board of Education.

Judge Brown really enjoyed being a district judge, saying that “There are doubtless higher offices, but I know of none in the gift of the government which contributes so much to making life worth living as a district judgeship of the United States.” (Charles A. Kent, Memoir of Henry Billings Brown: Late Justice of the United States Supreme Court (New York: Duffield and Company, 1915), 23-24.