Claudius B. Grant was a colorful and outspoken member of the Michigan Supreme Court. He was born in Lebanon, Maine, on October 2, 1835. At age 20, he entered the University of Michigan, and following the completion of his studies, taught school in Ann Arbor. He served as principal in his last few years with the school district but resigned to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.
During the War, he participated in many notable battles and resigned from duty in 1864 with the rank of Colonel, a title he carried proudly throughout the rest of his life. Immediately after the war, Grant entered law school at the University of Michigan. Upon being admitted to the Bar, he went into practice with former Justice and Governor Alpheus Felch. Grant married Felch’s eldest daughter, Caroline, and had four children. In 1866, while still practicing law, Grant was named Recorder in Ann Arbor. In 1867, he was named Postmaster.
His public service continued as he served in the state legislature from 1871 until 1874. In 1871, he was also named Regent to the University of Michigan. Grant entered private practice with Joseph H. Chandler when he relocated to Houghton, Michigan, in 1873. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney in 1876. Grant’s work with the courts began in 1881 when he became judge of the Twenty-Fifth Circuit. He was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1889 and remained on the Bench for 20 years.
Grant was very disciplined in keeping in touch with his regiment from his war service. Never once was a reunion with his comrades in arms missed. Furthermore, Grant kept in close contact with his fraternity at the University of Michigan. For 40 years, he attended their annual dinners and remained well acquainted with all active members. Grant seemed to demand a fearful respect from all those he encountered up until the day of his death on February 28, 1921. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co. 1879 – 1948, Vol. 216.)
Oil on canvas
90.17cm X 73.34cm (35 1/2″ X 28 7/8″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 1st Floor: Learning Center
Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996