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Wed, 03.19.1845

Moorfield Storey, Lawyer, and Activist born

Moorfield Storey

*Moorfield Storey was born on this date in 1845.   He was a white-American lawyer, anti-imperial activist, and civil rights, leader.  

Moorfield Storey was born in 1845 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His family descended from the earliest Puritan settlers in New England and had close connections with the abolitionist movement.  His father was a Boston lawyer. Young Storey went to the Boston Latin School and graduated in 1862 during the American Civil War.


He attended Harvard, where he was a member of the Glee Club, graduating in 1866, and then studied at Harvard Law School. In a speech almost thirty years later at Cambridge University, Storey discussed the mindset of the young men of his generation, stating that "a great movement for intellectual, religious, and political freedom was just culminating..."


Storey served as a founding president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving from 1909 to his death.  He also opposed United States expansionism beginning with the Spanish American War.  He guided NAACP legal challenges to discriminatory laws that violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, especially related to disenfranchisement and segregation of Blacks in the South, and led several important NAACP legal victories.


Storey was lead counsel before the United States Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley (1917). In that case, the Court unanimously overturned a Louisville law that segregated Blacks by specific city blocks. The Court's opinion reflected the jurisprudence of property rights and freedom of contract embodied in the earlier Lochner v. New York case.  

On February 17, 1916, he testified in opposition to the nomination of Louis D. Brandeis to the United States Supreme Court. He was, with James Weldon Johnson, at the 1919 National Conference on Lynching.  In 1920 Storey led the NAACP to defend the Elaine Twelve in their appeals from convictions for murder and the death penalty. They raised $50,000 for their defense, hiring two attorneys to manage the appeals in Arkansas.

The cases were broken into two tracks because of technical trial issues, and six men (Ware et al.) were retried beginning in May 1920 after their defense team won the first appeal at the state supreme court. Storey worked with the team as the cases of six other men (Moore et al.) later reached the United States Supreme Court. In its ruling in Moore v. Dempsey (1923), the Court set a precedent for reviewing state criminal cases against the standard of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the application of the Bill of Rights to state actions.  Moorfield Storey died on October 24, 1929. 


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