Peter S. Grosscup
Peter S. Grosscup (Sunday, February 15, 1852–Saturday, October 1, 1921) age 68.
Judge Peter S. Grosscup was born in Ashland, Ohio. He attended Wittenberg College, A.B. and Boston Law School. LL.B. before returning to Ashland and practicing law there from 1873 to 1883. He made unsuccessful runs for Congress in 1876 and 1880, then moved to Chicago to continue his successful law practice. In 1892, Benjamin Harrison appointed Grosscup to the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. Grosscup sat with Judge William A. Woods on the U.S. circuit court when it issued the injunction against Eugene V. Debs and the American Railway Union officers. Grosscup also presided at the ill-fated criminal prosecution of Debs, which ended in February 1895, when a juror became ill and Grosscup declared a mistrial. Grosscup had recused himself from the circuit court hearings on the contempt charges because the facts of the case were so closely related to the criminal trial. In 1899, President William McKinley appointed his old friend Grosscup to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
As he had on the district court, Grosscup continued to speak out on public affairs as a circuit judge. In the midst of the Pullman strike proceedings in July 1894, Grosscup had delivered a speech on “Labor and Property.” During the Spanish-American War, he publicly advocated the annexation of Cuba. Although Grosscup was critical of the strikers and big labor unions, he also supported regulation of big trusts. In 1912, he backed Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential candidacy for the Progressive Party.
Grosscup also courted controversy with his private business affairs. As a circuit judge he appointed as a receiver to a bankrupt company his close friend and clerk of court. As president of a small railroad company, Grosscup was indicted with other officers in a criminal negligence case that arose out of an accident that killed fifteen people. Both cases prompted calls for impeachment, but President Roosevelt opposed the idea. When Grosscup announced that he would retire from the federal courts in the fall of 1911, a Chicago newspaper announced that the judge had been the subject of a two-year investigation by a magazine, and that officials of the Department of Justice had cooperated with the investigation, which focused on financial malfeasance. The magazine dropped its investigation when Grosscup threatened to withdraw his resignation, and Grosscup left the bench, stating that he was not interested in remaining as a circuit judge now that Congress had eliminated all trial duties for circuit judges. He moved to New York and returned to law practice.