In thinking about future projects, I also wonder sometimes about writing a biography of Justice Bushrod Washington, George Washington’s nephew. No book has been written about him since the 19th century, but there’s a lot of potential there. First, he was G. Washington’s confidant as a young man and inherited his papers and Mount Vernon after Martha Washington’s death. Second, he was on the Supreme Court for thirty-one years and was the right hand of John Marshall for much of that time (he and Marshall were friends from their days studying law as apprentices). Third, he was the first leader of the American Colonization Society, which sought free slaves and repatriate them to Africa, even though he owned slaves throughout his life. Fourth, he wrote Corfield v. Coryell, which was often cited by proponents of the Fourteenth Amendment as the most significant articulation of fundamental rights by a court in the ante-bellum era. There’s more–he was also a delegate at the Virginia ratifying convention for the Constitution–but you get the idea.
Of course, whenever there is no book about someone that could be because (1) he was dull; (2) his papers are disorderly, or (3) there are too many to count. Whether any or all of these are true in his case, we’ll see.