Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was a Civil War soldier and long-serving jurist. After graduating from Harvard, Holmes served as an officer in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and was wounded several times. Holmes returned to Harvard to study law at the conclusion of the hostilities. He practiced law in Boston and gave a series of lectures that were published in 1881 under the title “The Common Law”. Holmes was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1882 for his vast legal knowledge. Twenty years later, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Holmes served on the court for more than 29 years. His opinions while on the court are widely cited. Most often in the minority opinion, Holmes has been called the “Great Dissenter.” He is well-known for his statement that “taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”