Isaac Newton Blackford

A Biography of Isaac Newton Blackford
Presented by the Blackford County Historical Society

Blackford County was named for Isaac Newton Blackford, a Supreme Court judge of Indiana.

He was born at Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey, November 6, 1786.

At the age of sixteen, he entered Princeton University and graduated in 1806. He began his study of law in Colonel George McDonald’s office, and began his New Jersey law practice in 1810. About 1812 he came west.

In 1813, Blackford was elected county clerk and recorder of Washington County, Indiana. The following year he was elected clerk of the Territorial Legislature, which office he resigned on being appointed circuit judge of the First Judicial District. He moved to Vincennes, where he met and married his wife, and where his only child was born.

After his marriage Blackford was elected to the first state legislature and was chosen speaker. In 1817 he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court by Governor Jennings, who considered him a man of outstanding ability, great fairness, and unyielding integrity. Blackford held his appointment until 1855.

While serving as judge, he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the newly opened Indiana University. He also served as judge for the Court of Claims in Washington, D.C., holding this office until his death on December 31, 1859.

Judge Blackford gained his reputation mostly from his reports of Supreme Court decisions, which he edited and published for 35 years. Of 2,000 cases he reported, only 43 were changed or overruled. He was called the “Indiana Blackstone”.

Blackford was five feet nine inches in height, erect in bearing, quick in movement, economical in habits, plain in dress, and unostentatious. He died in 1859 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

This biography of Isaac Newton Blackford is from the book, “A History of Blackford County, Indiana”, published by the Blackford County Historical Society in 1986.

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