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About the Author

About the Author: David Brewer was born in Smyrna, Turkey, to missionary parents on June 20, 1837. Over the next 15 years Brewer's father traveled from town to town, as well as to larger cities, advocating Christ, prison reform and the end of slavery. His son, David, quickly adopted his father's passion for all these causes and included some of his own, such as women's suffrage and an enhanced role for women in all professions. He authored one of the first judicial opinions upholding the right of African-American citizens to vote in a general election. Justice Brewer was far from an ultra-conservative, but it was probably correct to describe him, as author Andy Schmookler wrote in the Daily Kos, as "one of the most unabashedly religious justices to ever serve." Brewer once stated, "I glory in the fact that my father was an old-line abolitionist, and one thing which he instilled into my youthful soul was the conviction that liberty, personal and political, is the God-given right of every individual, and I expect to live and die in that faith." Brewer graduated from Yale and received his law degree from Albany Law School in the spring of 1858. In the same year he departed for Kansas. He was elected judge of the county probate court, and in 1865 was elected judge of the first judicial district court of Kansas. Eventually he would be elected to three six-year terms on the Kansas Supreme Court. In 1884 President Chester Alan Arthur, America's 21st president, appointed him to the Eighth Circuit Appeals Court. Five years later, after the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Stanley Matthews due to a sudden illness, President Benjamin Harrison nominated Brewer to the U.S. Supreme Court. After 20 years on the High Court, Justice Brewer had gained a reputation for limiting the power of government. He rejected what today is called the "nanny state," and advocated a narrow interpretation of police power. Brewer believed strongly that the character of America was a reflection of its people. "You cannot disassociate the character of the nation and that of its citizens," Brewer said during a lecture at Yale on "American Citizenship." In 1905 he gave a series of speeches on "America: A Christian Nation," to the students at Haverford College, which eventually were compiled into this book. Justice Brewer died in 1910. He is buried in a cemetery in Leavenworth, a town that has also named an elementary school after him.

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