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William H. Welch, Chief Justice, Territorial Supreme Court, 1853-1858

William H. Welch

Portrait of William Welch



William H. Welch was the second Chief Justice in Minnesota



Born in Connecticut on June 17, 1805, William H. Welch served as Chief Justice of the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court from 1853 to 1858. Welch, who studied law at Yale, was the first Minnesota Justice to have graduated from law school. He moved to the Michigan Territory and participated in the State Constitutional Convention in 1835. Welch came to Minnesota in 1850, and resided in St. Anthony (Minneapolis), where he practiced law and served as Justice of the Peace. President Pierce appointed Welch to the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court in 1853, and President Buchanan reappointed him 4 years later. Welch left the Court in 1858, when Minnesota became a state and relocated his family to Red Wing, Minnesota where he lived until his death on January 22, 1863.

You may read more about the life and work of Chief Justice Welch in the sources linked below and in the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society's book:Testimony: Remembering Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.


Portrait of William H. Welch from Hiram F. Stevens’s History of the Bench and Bar of Minnesota (Minneapolis and St. Paul: Legal Publishing & Engraving Co., 1904)