Former Supreme Court Chief Justice and HHR founder Charles Evans Hughes has made a triumphant return to the nation’s highest court through a new exhibition.
In June 2013, “The Power of Image: Charles Evans Hughes in Prints, Photographs and Drawings,” was installed on the ground floor of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. According to a Supreme Court spokeswoman, the exhibit is scheduled to run for approximately 12 to 18 months.
The Curator’s Office at the Supreme Court decided to organize the exhibit after reviewing its strong collection of images of Hughes, the spokeswoman said. This marks the Supreme Court’s eight exhibit on a chief justice. While it is not known how many visitors have viewed the exhibit so far, the high court receives more than 300,000 visitors each year.
“This exhibit traces Hughes’ public career through 22 photographs, prints and drawings from the Court’s collection,” according to a summary of the exhibit on the court’s website. “Individually they explore facets of the public image, and collectively they demonstrate just how much that iconic image enchanted the photographers and cartoonists who depicted him.”
The summary describes Hughes as “one of the most accomplished public figures of the 20th century.” “From the moment in 1905 when he entered public life as a New York State investigator ‘with the suddenness of an eruption,’ journalists and the public alike were fascinated by the image of this striking new figure. Not only was he seemingly incorruptible and gifted with legendary intellectual powers, but he had an iconic beard which cartoonists and the press loved, and who turned it into a ‘national landmark.’”
A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Hughes was made a name partner to Chamberlain, Carter & Hornblower in 1888. Ever since then, his name was attached to every succeeding firm until the final switch to its current name in 1968.
By the time Hughes died in 1948 at the age of 86, he had served as governor of New York (1907-1910), associate justice of the Supreme Court (1910-16), U.S. secretary of state (1921-1925) and chief justice of the Supreme Court (1930-1941). He also nearly won the presidency in 1916.