Philemon Bliss

Philemon Bliss (July 28, 1813 – August 25, 1889) was an Ohio Congressman, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court of Dakota Territory, and a Missouri Supreme Court justice.

Philemon Bliss
Philemon Bliss-ppmsca.26745.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 14th district
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1859
Preceded byHarvey H. Johnson
Succeeded byCyrus Spink
Personal details
Born(1813-07-28)July 28, 1813
Canton, Connecticut
DiedAugust 25, 1889(1889-08-25) (aged 76)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Resting placeColumbia Cemetery (Columbia, Missouri)
Political partyRepublican, Opposition
Spouse(s)Martha W. Thorpe
Alma materHamilton College

Early life and educationEdit

Bliss was born in Canton, Connecticut in 1813 to Asahel Bliss and Lydia Adams (Griswold) Bliss. He attended Fairfield Academy and Hamilton College, where he studied law. He moved to Elyria, Ohio, where he studied law under his brother Albert.[1]


In 1840 Bliss passed the bar and began practicing law, first in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and later in Elyria, Ohio. On November 16, 1843 he married Martha W. Thorpe. They had three children.[1] He served as presiding judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit of Ohio from 1848 through 1851. Bliss ran for congressional office as a republican and was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served in the 34th Congress as an Oppositionist and 35th Congress as a Republican, but did not run for re-election in 1858. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Bliss chief justice of the Supreme Court of Dakota Territory in 1861. He also served as associate justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri from 1868 through 1872.

Later careerEdit

After his retirement from the bench, Bliss became Law Dean for the University of Missouri, where he served until his death in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1889. He is buried at the Columbia Cemetery in Columbia, Missouri.


The Philemon Bliss Scholarship was established at the University of Missouri School of Law in his honor.


  1. ^ a b Bliss, John Homer. Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America, from about the year 1550 to 1880. p. 444.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harvey H. Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 14th congressional district

Succeeded by
Cyrus Spink