100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Myra Clark Gaines

Myra Clark Gaines

The New Orleans Claimant

“The True-Life Romance of the American Courts”

Patterson v. Gaines

47 U.S. (6 How.) 550 (1848)

Gaines v. Relf and Chew

53 U.S. (12 How.) 472 (1852)

Gaines v. Hennen

65 U.S. (24 How.) 553 (1861)

Myra Clark Gaines, born in 1804, was the plaintiff in the longest continuous lawsuit in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that began in 1834 and ended in 1891. Gaines was a familiar sight to the citizens of New Orleans in the years after the Civil War. Less than five feet tall and of slight build, with black eyes and graying hair, Gaines scurried about the city, harrying her lawyers to settle the lawsuit that consumed her life. For more than sixty years, she sought to ...

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