This is another document I didn’t know I’d find. I pulled the tray of nomination messages from the first few months of Taft’s presidency, the goal being to see his cabinet-level and major diplomatic nominations. Anything else would be gravy. I remember grinning violently when this one turned up in the pile:

Here’s a closer view:

Hand was actually a candidate to replace Taft as Chief Justice in 1930. In fact, he was one of the most well-read, literarily talented, and widely respected federal judges never to have served on the Supreme Court. He had advocates in all the right places, but lightning never struck him—political considerations thwarted his nomination each time. He served on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for over three decades (and as a federal judge for over fifty years), so he at least he wasn’t doomed to labor in obscurity.

The Wikipedia article on Judge Hand seems to be keyed to Gerald Gunther’s (by all accounts) magnificent biography of the man, so I’ll quote its account of Hand’s christening: “Billings Learned Hand was born on January 27, 1872, in Albany, New York, second and last child of Samuel and Lydia Hand (née Learned). His mother’s family traditionally used surnames as given names, and Hand was named for an uncle and a grandfather, both named Billings Peck Learned.”

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