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John Raymond Hazel (December 18, 1860 – October 31, 1951) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. He is notable for administering the oath of office to President Theodore Roosevelt following the assassination of President William McKinley.

John R. Hazel
TR Inaugurationsketch.jpg
Judge Hazel swore-in Roosevelt as President
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York
In office
June 5, 1900 – March 5, 1931
Appointed byWilliam McKinley
Preceded bySeat established by 31 Stat. 175
Succeeded byJohn Knight
Personal details
John Raymond Hazel

(1860-12-18)December 18, 1860
Buffalo, New York
DiedOctober 31, 1951(1951-10-31) (aged 90)
Educationread law


Education and careerEdit

Born on December 18, 1860, in Buffalo, New York, Hazel read law in 1882. He entered private practice in Buffalo from 1882 to 1894. He was Commissioner of Corporation Taxes for the State of New York starting in 1894.[1] He was a delegate to the 1900 Republican National Convention.[2]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Hazel was nominated by President William McKinley on May 18, 1900, to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, to a new seat authorized by 31 Stat. 175. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 5, 1900, and received his commission the same day. His service terminated on March 5, 1931, due to his retirement.[1]

Nomination controversyEdit

Hazel's nomination was opposed by the Buffalo Bar Association, which considered him unfit for judgeship. A group of five lawyers went to New York City on the association's behalf for the purpose of meeting with the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to express their opposition. Contemporaneous accounts indicate that it was a dispute between Platt and anti-Platt rings then prevalent in New York.[3]

Roosevelt oath of officeEdit

On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz.[citation needed] Roosevelt was vacationing in Vermont, and traveled to Buffalo to visit McKinley in the hospital.[citation needed] It appeared that McKinley would recover, so he went on a planned family camping and hiking trip to Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.[citation needed] In the mountains, a runner notified him McKinley was on his death bed.[citation needed] Roosevelt pondered with his wife, Edith, how best to respond, not wanting to show up in Buffalo and wait on McKinley's death.[citation needed] Roosevelt was rushed by a series of stagecoaches to North Creek train station.[citation needed] At the station, Roosevelt was handed a telegram that said President McKinley died at 2:30 AM, September 14, 1901.[citation needed]The new President continued by train from North Creek to Buffalo.[citation needed] He arrived in Buffalo later that day, accepting an invitation to stay at the home of Ansley Wilcox (now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site).[citation needed] It was there, on the afternoon of September 14, 1901, that Hazel administered the oath to Roosevelt.[citation needed]

Notable casesEdit

In 1909, Judge Hazel issued an order cancelling the naturalization of Jacob A. Kersner, at the request of the United States Attorney's office, and thus stripping the citizenship of his ex-wife, the Anarchist orator Emma Goldman, who had gained United States citizenship in 1887 by her marriage to Kersner.[4] Ten years later, in 1919, the Wilson administration used Hazel's voiding of her citizenship as the basis for ruling that Goldman could be deported to Russia as an "alien anarchist," along with 248 other "undesirables," on the USAT Buford.

Judge Hazel heard the 1910 to 1913 lawsuit by the Wright brothers who alleged patent infringement against manufacturer Herring-Curtiss Company and inventor Glenn Curtiss. Hazel ruled in February 1913 for the Wrights, and on appeal a higher court agreed with this decision in 1914.[5] The decision was controversial for so favorably interpreting the uniqueness and priority of the technical achievements of the Wrights, and it has been argued that this broad interpretation of their intellectual property slowed aviation developments in the U.S.[6][7]


Hazel died on October 13, 1951.[1]


  1. ^ a b c John Raymond Hazel at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Hayworth to Heacock".
  3. ^ "Lawyers Oppose Hazel's Appointment," New York Times (front page) (May 30, 1900)
  4. ^ "Fair Use Blog » Blog Archive » Emma Goldman Now Alien". New York Times. April 9, 1909. p. 2.
  5. ^ Head, James. 2008. Warped Wings. Mustang, Oklahoma, U.S.: Tate Publishing.
  6. ^ Shulman, Seth. Unlocking the Sky: Glenn Hammond Curtiss and the Race to Invent the Airplane. New York: Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN 0-06-019633-5.
  7. ^ Levine, David; Michele Boldrin (2008). Against intellectual monopoly. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87928-6.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 31 Stat. 175
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York
Succeeded by
John Knight