Hon. J. J. Wright

March 5, 1870, page 149

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Judge of the Supreme Court of South Carolina

The Honorable J. J. Wright, recently elected to a seat in the Supreme Court of South Carolina, whose portrait we give on page 149, was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and is now about thirty-one years of age. When he was about six years old his parents removed to Montrose, Susquehanna County, in the same State, where for several years he attended the district school during the winter months, working for the neighboring farmers the rest of the year. Having saved up a small sum of money he entered the Lancasterian University, at Ithaca, in New York State; and after a thorough course of study there returned to the village where his parents resided, and entered the office of a law firm, where he read law for two years, supporting himself by teaching. He subsequently entered the office of Judge Collins, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with whom he read law for another year. Feeling himself qualified for the legal profession, he now applied for admission to the Bar; but so great was the existing prejudice against colored men that the Committee refused to examine him.

In April, 1865, he was sent by the American Missionary Society to Beaufort, South Carolina, as a teacher and laborer among the freedmen. He remained in Beaufort until after the Civil Rights Bill had passed, when he returned to Montrose, Pennsylvania, and demanded an examination.  The Committee found him qualified, and recommended his admission to the Bar. He was admitted August 13, 1865, being the first and only colored man ever admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania. In April, 1866, he was appointed by General O. O. Howard legal adviser for the freedmen in Beaufort, and acted in that capacity until he was elected to the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina. He was soon afterward elected Senator from the county Beaufort, and acted as such until February 1, 1870, when he was elected to the Supreme Bench of the State, and immediately entered upon the discharge of his duties as Judge.

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