Skip Content
U.S. Flag
  
  

Oliver Ellsworth: A Featured Biography


Image of Oliver Ellsworth

One of the most influential senators of the First Federal Congress, Oliver Ellsworth (1745-1807) was the principal author of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the federal judiciary and shaped the Supreme Court. Having served in the Connecticut assembly and the Continental Congress, Ellsworth represented Connecticut at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where he orchestrated the “Great Compromise” that saved the convention from deadlock. Two years later, he became one of Connecticut’s first two senators. Highly esteemed by his fellow senators, Ellsworth devoted his service in the Senate to implementing the new Constitution and making the new government work. In 1796, President George Washington nominated Ellsworth as Chief Justice of the United States. John Adams later described Ellsworth as "the firmest pillar" of the federal government during its earliest years.