Minnesota State Law Library
Born near Leyden, New York, September 21, 1852, Wallace Barton Douglas attended public schools in New York and Illinois and studied at Cazenovia Seminary (New York) before pursuing a legal education. After returning from seminary, Douglas worked in a bank for a year, saving his money to attend law school. He enrolled at the University of Michigan the following year and graduated with his LL.B degree in 1875. After law school, Douglas was admitted to the bar and practiced law in in Chicago until 1883, when he relocated to Minnesota, settling in Moorhead.
Douglas continued to practice law in Minnesota and served as City Attorney for Moorhead, was a member of Board of Education, and served as County Attorney for Clay County. He also served in the Minnesota Legislature from 1895 -1897. In 1898, he was elected Attorney General of Minnesota, a position for which he was reelected in 1900 and 1902. Douglas stepped down as Attorney General in 1904, to accept appointment from Governor Van Sant, to the Minnesota Supreme Court as Associate Justice. Douglas's time on the Court was brief. He served only until January 1, 1905, at which time he retired to private practice as the head of the St. Paul firm of Douglas, Kennedy & Kennedy.
Justice Douglas’ service to the state of Minnesota was not limited to legal work. He also served on the State Forestry Board for more than 20 years and is credited with helping to preserve the land now known as Itasca State Park. He also participated in efforts to introduce the first legislation in the state to protect wildlife. Justice Douglas died on December 9, 1930, at his farm in Ferndale, Washington, where he had gone to recuperate from illness. He was 78.
You may read more about the life and work of Justice Wallace B. Douglas in his memorial, and the book Testimony: Remembering Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.