Part ONE is an introduction to Parts TWO and THREE. Here previous accounts of the terms of the members of territorial supreme court are traced and discussed. The 1870 "Minnesota Legislative Manual" listed many erroneous or incomplete dates of the terms of the justices who served on that court. These errors were copied in subsequent editions of that book and republished in one popular history after another from 1881 to the present day.
In the Introduction, the constitutionality of President Fillmore's recess appointment of Jerome Fuller and removal of Chief Justice Aaron Goodrich on October 21, 1851, is explored. The confusion surrounding the terms of Chief Justices Fuller and Hayner, something that has confounded writers since 1870, is lifted. The three presidential commissions issued to Bradley B. Meeker are discussed, as is his extraordinary legal challenge to President Pierce's decision to remove him on April 5, 1853. One year after his removal, Meeker published a lengthy manifesto in the "St. Anthony Express" setting forth elaborate arguments why his removal was illegal, and several months later, filed a "request" in the territorial supreme court that he be restored to his former post. The court's ruling is discussed here; a docket entry of the court's order appears in PART TWO-B; and the manifesto itself is posted at the end of PART THREE.
The process of becoming a justice on the territorial supreme court had four steps: 1) be nominated by the President or receive a recess appointment by him; 2) if nominated, be confirmed by the U. S. Senate; 3) receive a commission from the President, and accept it; and 4) take the oath of office in Minnesota Territory.
PART TWO of this article reproduces documents of each of these steps for the ten men who served on the territorial court. The documents include each justice's presidential commission, oath of office, and excerpts from proceedings in the U. S. Senate. In PART TWO, for the first time, the correct dates of the terms of the territorial justices are recorded and documented. The anomaly of why the time a territorial justice actually served on the bench was shorter than the term set by his presidential commission is explained in PART ONE.
To encourage judges to remain at their posts, Congress enacted legislation that barred payment of salaries to judges who were absent from the territory for longer than sixty days. Legislation on the salaries of absentee jurists and official opinions of the Attorney General on other aspects of the territorial judiciary, including the President's power of removal, are posted in PART THREE.