Allen Morse

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Served from 1885 through 1892
Chief Justice: 1885

Allen B. Morse was born on January 7, 1839, in Otisco, Michigan. He studied for two years at Michigan Agricultural College prior to teaching school. In 1860, he began studying the law but left to enlist in the Union Army.

Morse served in a number of different capacities during the Civil War as a member of Michigan’s 16th Infantry and as a First Lieutenant, and later as an Adjutant, with the 21st Michigan Infantry. He was wounded at Chattanooga on November 25, 1863, and lost his left arm. His superior, F.T. Sherman, described Morse as, “Ever at the post of duty, either in the office or on the field, he won the esteem and confidence of his superior officers and the love and respect of his juniors.” (Reed, George I. Bench and Bar of Michigan: A History and Biography. Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Co., 1897.) Morse resigned from the military on September 1, 1864, resumed his law studies and subsequently began practicing law in Ionia County.

The first public office that Morse held was Prosecuting Attorney for Ionia County. He served from 1867 until 1871. In 1875, he was elected to the Michigan State Senate. In 1882, he served as the Mayor of Ionia.

Morse’s service on the Michigan Supreme Court began when he filled the vacancy left by Thomas Cooley in 1885. He served an eight-year term. Justice John Champlin commented that, “As an associate of Judge Morse upon the bench, I can certify to his unfailing industry and untiring zeal to get at the pith of the controversy, without favor or prejudice toward either of the parties[‘] litigant.” (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 – 1949, Vol. 113.)

Following his service on the Bench, Morse was appointed United States Consul in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1893. On top of his public service activities, Morse enjoyed the recreation that his native state of Michigan offered, such as hunting and fishing. Overall, it has been deemed that Morse was of strong character. (Reed.)

Allen B. Morse died on July 1, 1921.

Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
April 5, 1898

Portrait Artist:
Henderson, John

Oil on canvas

74.93cm X 62.23cm (29 1/2″ X 24 1/2″)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor: Rotunda

Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996