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Rensselaer R. Nelson First Federal Judge from Minnesota

Rensselaer R. Nelson, a native of New York and the son of a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was the first federal judge from Minnesota. Appointed by President Buchanan, Judge Nelson sat on the federal bench from the beginning of statehood in 1858 until his retirement in 1896. During his tenure his most important cases concerned civil rights, copyright infringement, writ of habeas corpus, eminent domain, property rights, and an interpretation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Judge Nelson was revered by his contemporaries for his knowledge, judgment, courtesy, dignity, and patience.

A display depicting Judge Nelson’s life was open to the publicin 2008. Below are PDF versions of each display. Click on the links to view each panel.