Eighth Circuit Historical Society

The Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit


District of Minnesota Branch

Judge Rensselaer Russell Nelson:
The First Federal Judge in 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 Nelsonís life is open to the public on the first floor of the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis through the end of 2008. Programs about Judge Nelson are planned for late spring.

Click on image for larger view.

R.R. Nelson Display, Panel 1 R.R. Nelson Display, Panel 2 R.R. Nelson Display, Panel 3 R.R. Nelson Display, Panel 4


Home | Officers | Board of Directors | Branches | Incorporation/Bylaws
Annual Reports | Minutes | Newsletters | Surveys | 8th Circuit Courthouses Poster
History of the Federal Judiciary | Judges' Papers



Jan. 10, 2008
©2001 by the Historical Society of the U.S. Courts in the Eighth Circuit