Gilded Age Collections

Collection ID: GA-30
Location: GA-30

(Description ID: 594280)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Stanley T. Matthews


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

The collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in 1955 by Mrs. Francis J. Bloodgood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Available on microfilm are Matthews’ Civil War letters (1861 – 1865) to his wife.  The originals are held by the Ohio Historical Society. Letters by Matthews also appear in the George W. McCrary Papers and in the Sidney Warner Papers (microfilm).   

Biographical Sketch
Stanley Matthews (July 21, 1824 – March 22, 1889), U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Thomas J. Matthews, a college professor, and Isabella Brown Matthews graduated from Kenyon College, Ohio, in 1840, studied law in Cincinnati, and moved to Columbia, Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar and was active in Democratic politics.  In 1844, he returned to Cincinnati, espoused antislavery principles, and, despite that unpopular stance, was elected a judge of the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, where he served from 1851 to 1853.  Matthews continued to practice law and was elected to the Ohio State Senate, serving from 1855 to 1857.  From 1858 through 1861, he was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.  In that office, despite his hostility to slavery, he prosecuted a man who had assisted the escape of two fugitive slaves.

Matthews married Mary Ann Black in 1843. They had eight children, of whom five survived to adulthood.  The death of three sons in an 1857 scarlet fever epidemic led Matthews to discard the rationalist Unitarianism of his youth for a fervent, though liberal, Calvinist Presbyterianism.  Mary Ann Matthews died in 1885, and he married Mary Theaker in 1887.

In 1861, Matthews joined the Republican Party and volunteered for military service.  He was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry and then colonel in the Fifty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He was provost marshal of Nashville and a brigade commander at Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga.  He resigned from the army in 1863 when he was elected judge of the Ohio Superior Court, where he sat until 1865.

Back in private practice, Matthews prospered, representing railroads and other corporate interests.  He became active in Republican politics and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1876.  In 1877, he argued the cause of his college and army friend Rutherford B. Hayes before the electoral commission.  Matthews also helped engineer the Wormley Compromise of 1877, which resolved the disputed 1876 presidential election on the basis of Republican pledges to terminate what was left of military Reconstruction.  This assured a return of Democratic control in the southern states.  The former opponent of slavery seemed untroubled that this action abandoned the freed people of the South to domination by vengeful, racist regimes, who within a generation would impose Jim Crow, economic servitude, political disfranchisement, and the political ideology of white supremacy.  Republicans in control of the Ohio legislature elected Matthews to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1879 and, characteristically out of step with his party, supported greenbacks and silver.

In 1881, President Hayes nominated Matthews to the Supreme Court, but the nomination proved politically controversial and languished in the Judiciary Committee.  Democrats bore a grudge over his political role in the 1876-77 negotiations and considered him Hayes’s crony because the two men were related by marriage.  Hard money proponents resented his support for silver, while reformers of either party viewed his lucrative railroad practice suspiciously.  Newly elected president James A. Garfield resubmitted the nomination, and Matthews was confirmed by a margin of one vote in 1881.  He sat until his final illness in 1888 forced him off the bench and he died in Washington D.C., the next year.

Though Matthews served only seven years and was little differentiated ideologically from his brethren on the Court, several of his opinions have lasting significance.

In Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886), Matthews struck down a San Francisco ordinance regulating the licensing of laundries on the grounds that it was discriminatorily applied to exclude Chinese laundrymen.  It set a precedent for voiding laws that were valid on their face but unequally enforced. Matthews’ opinion in Hurtado v. California (1884), was significant not because of innovation or doctrine, but because it raised the issue of the extent to which the Fourteenth Amendment “incorporated” the first eight amendments as limitations on the power of states. Matthews’ holding in Ex parte Crow Dog (1883) respected the quasi-sovereign status of American Indian tribes, but this only encouraged enactment of laws that denigrated tribal sovereignty. In Poindexter v. Greenhow (1885), Matthews drew a distinction between states, immune from suit by citizens of other states, and a state’s agent.     In Bowman v. Chicago and Northwestern Co. (1888), Matthews was in advance of doctrinal development in an opinion that struck down an Iowa prohibition law because it interfered with interstate commerce.  This was his last significant opinion before he retired from the court.

Stanley Matthews was esteemed by his contemporaries for legal acumen and remembered affectionately by former enemies such as Senator George Edmunds, who had opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court for “the gentleness of his disposition, the affability of his conduct.” Matthews was one of the more progressive jurists on a Court that was beginning to formulate doctrines, such as substantive due process, that were hostile to state regulatory power.  His realistic approach in Yick Wo was far in advance of its time and marked one of the few occasions before 1950 when the equal protection clause was enforced to protect racial minorities.  In his seven years of service on the Supreme Court, Matthews left an enduring mark on American public law. American National Biography

Scope and Content
This collection dates from 1803 to 1932 and consists mainly of family correspondence, memoranda, court opinions, speeches, notes on the Matthews family as well as addresses and arguments from 1856 to 1881.  Also included are biographies of Matthews, an article about Matthews and the Presbyterian church, photographs, and printed material. An item level description of this collection, including the names all correspondents is available in the reading room at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Letters from Matthews to President Rutherford B. Hayes and to William K. Rogers (Hayes’ secretary during his term in office) that are a part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers are listed in this inventory. Several letters to Hayes family members from Mrs. Stanley (Mary Ann Black) Matthews and Mortimer and Paul Matthews, sons of Stanley Matthews may also be found in the Hayes Papers. 

Ac. 1088
3 linear ft.

Box 1

  1. Longworth & Horne, ads. Sturges & Anderson Nicholas Longworth, ads. Sturges & Anderson Brief for the defendants for rehearing Worthington & Matthews, solicitors. (1852 +)
  2. Remarks of Stanley Matthews upon resolutions of Mr. Brazee, and the substitute therefore proposed by Mr. Kelley, relative to the canal contracts.   February 26, 1857, Ohio Senate, 2 copies.
  3. John Doe ex dem. Joseph C. Parrish, against Eliphalet Ferris, and others. Argument for plaintiff by Worthington and Matthews. (1858+)
  4. The relations of the state to religious edu John D. Minor et al vs. the Board of Education of the City of Cincinnati.   (1870) 2 copies.
  5. The City Solicitor vs. the City of Cincinnati, constitutionality of the municipal railway act. Argument of Stanley
  6. Oration delivered at the reunion of the Army of the Cumberland, September 16, 1874, by Colonel Stanley Matthews
  7. An address before the literary societies of the University of Wooster, June 20, 1876 by Stanley Matthews
  8. Speech at Athens, Ohio on Political Questions, August 25, 1877 by Stanley
  9. Speech in the Senate of the United States, March 14, 1878 by Stanley Matthews
  10. Address at Woodstock, , July 4, 1879, by Stanley Matthews.
  11. Address to alumni of Kenyon College, June 23, 1880, by Stanley Matthews.
  12. Speech regarding the function of the legal profession in the progress of civilization by Stanley Matthews, September 20, 1881.
  13. An address delivered before the graduating classes at the 64th anniversary of the Yale Law School, June 26, 1888, by Stanley Matthews.   3 copies
  14. Proceedings of the bench and bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in memoriam: Stanley Matthews, 1889.   2 copies
  15. Bulletin of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, July 1950. (p. 155-170).“The contested confirmation of Stanley Matthews to the United States Supreme Court,” by Harold M. Helfman.
  16. Chase’s argument in defense of John Vanzant before the Supreme Court of the United States.   (1847)
  17. “Some Letters of Salmon P. Chase,” (1848 – 1865). American Historical Review, volume 34 number 3 (1929). 3 copies.
  18. An Address on the Character and Influence of Chief Justice Marshall by Horace Gray (1901).
  19. The Development of the Constitution as influenced by Chief Justice Marshall, by Henry Hitchcock (1889).
  20. The Duel between France and Germany with its Lesson to Civilization, Lecture by Charles Sumner (1871).
  21. Proceedings of the Bar and of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Memory of Horace Gray, January 17, 1903.
  22. The Miami Valley Address of Hon. Samuel F. Hunt (1881). Memorial Commission Annual meeting, August 28, 1923 Dedication souvenir (1932); Official souvenir book (no date)                           

Box 2

  1. Addresses and arguments of Stanley Matthews. (1856-1881)
  2. Scrapbook of arguments, remarks and addresses by Stanley Matthews.

Box 3

  1. Newspaper clippings. (1877)
  2. Newspaper clippings. (1877)
  3. “Stanley Matthews Advocate and Jurist,” by Mrs. Harlan Cleveland, Manuscript, (Photos included)

Box 4

  1. The Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati.
  2. Friend’s Miscellany: Containing the Journal of William Matthews.
  3. Manuscript by Mary Ann Matthews (nee Black) 283 pp
  4. Manuscript by Mary Ann Matthews (nee Black) 7 sections
  5. Manuscript by Mary Ann Matthews (nee Black) pp 5 – 129
  6. Manuscript by Mary Ann Matthews (nee Black) 10 pp
  7. Manuscript by Mary Ann Matthews (nee Black) fragments.
  8. Letters: Matthews family miscellaneous (1817-1860)
  9. Letters: Sara Matthews to her son Thomas J. Matthews (1803-1805)
  10. Letters: Isabella Matthews (2nd Thomas J.) to her sister Ruth Miller.   (1812-1827)
  11. Letters: Harriet Matthews to her sister Eliza Paxson (1818-1821)
  12. Letters: To Harriet (Johnson) Matthews, first wife of Thomas J. Matthews (1809-1822)
  13. Letters: Thomas Matthews to his son Thomas J. Matthews. (1817-1827)
  14. Letters: Thomas J. Matthews miscellaneous. (1821-1822).
  15. Letters: Thomas J. Matthews to his son Stanley Matthews. (1839-1848)
  16. Letters: Thomas J. Matthews to Mrs. Stanley Matthews. (1848-1881)
  17. Letters: Mrs. Thomas J. Matthews to Stanley (1839-1846) 18 pieces
  18. Letters: Johnson Matthews (1823)

Box 5

  1. Letters: To Stanley Matthews (1839-1852).
  2. Letters: Stanley Matthews to Mary Ann Matthews (1843-1881).
  3. Letters: To Stanley Matthews from siblings.
  4. Letter: Stanley Matthews to his father Thomas J. Matthews (1843).
  5. Letters: Stanley Matthews to family (June 1861 to April 1863) (Originals are within the holdings of   the Ohio Historical Society)
  6. Letter: Stanley Matthews to John McHale (?)
  7. Letters: Photocopies of Stanley Matthews letters (1865-1881) copied from the originals at other institutions.
  8. Letters: Mary Ann Matthews to Stanley Matthews (1848-1856).
  9. Letters to Mary Ann (Black) Matthews (Mrs. Stanley Matthews).
  10. Letters: Mr. and Mrs. James Black to and from their children.
  11. Essays: Stanley Matthews (1839-1844).
  12. Miscellaneous documents: Stanley
  13. Campaign of 1872 speech of Hon. Stanley Matthews (August 2, 1872).
  14. Electoral Commission (1877) Stanley
  15. S. Senate material. Stanley Matthews.
  16. Supreme Court material. Stanley
  17. Biographical material for Stanley Matthews.
  18. Matthews
  19. Tax forms. Mrs. Harland Cleveland (Grace) (1907-1927).
  20. Church publications (Grace Matthews Cleveland?) (1918-1920).

Letters from Stanley Matthews to Rutherford B. Hayes in the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers.

1863, Sept. 23
1869, May 10; May 13; July 30 (telegram)
1870, March 26
1871, May 8
1875, June 12; Dec. 9
1876, Jan. 25; March 2; March 24; April 3; June 16 (telegram); June 17; June 23 (two letters); June 24;
      July 1; July 16 (telegram); July 29; Nov. 9; Dec. 15; Dec. 26; Dec. 28
1877, Jan. 3; Jan. 27 (telegram); Feb. 13 (two letters); Feb. 19; Feb. 23; March 16; March 20; March 23;
      April 27 (two letters); April 30 (two letters); May 2; May 14; May 15; May 19; May 26; May 30; June 20;
      June 27 (telegram); July 16; July 26 (telegram); Aug. 3; Aug. 6; Sept. 3; Oct. 1;
1878, Dec. 9
1879, March 1; March 10; April 5; April 15; May 24; July 2 (telegram); July 3; Oct. 29; Nov. 6; Nov. 12
      (telegram); Dec. 5
1880, April 7; April 22; April 26; Nov. 6
1881, Jan. 13; Jan. 31; Feb. 8; March 12; May 22; May 24; June 13
1882, May 4
1883, April 1
1884, May 8
1885, March 28; April 17
1886, May 12
1887, May 13
1888, May 17
Unknown year, Oct. 22 (telegram)
Unknown year, Feb. 21

Letters to W. K. Rogers (private secretary to Rutherford B. Hayes) in the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers

1877, April 13; May 4; May 5; May 14; May 15; May 27; May 29; June 24; Oct. 17
1879, Jan. 29; Feb. 12; April 15.