Biography of Justice William Strong
Justice William Strong is the only United States Supreme Court Justice to hail from Berks County, Pennsylvania. Justice Strong is most widely known for his tenure on the bench of the nation's highest court. However, his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was only one of many remarkable achievements over his long career in the law.
William Strong was born and raised in New England. He attended Harvard Law School and was later a friend of Abraham Lincoln. Immediately after graduating from law school (circa 1830), Strong took up residence in Berks County and opened a law practice in the City of Reading. When he began practicing law in the mid 1800's, many, if not most Berks County residents spoke only German. It was, therefore, necessary for him to learn German in order to communicate with his clients. It is written that William Strong quickly became fluent in German and then, just as quickly earned himself a reputation as one of the premier lawyers in Berks County.
Politically conservative, Strong was a member of the National Reform Association, opposed Federalism, including federal banks, and he strictly opposed slavery. He is reputed to have been a highly moral man whose father was a pastor. He admired the philosopher Locke and advocated strict construction of the United States Constitution. Born in 1808, he lived until 1895. Prior to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Strong served several terms in Congress representing, among his constituents, Berks County. As a Congressman, Strong was quite popular in both Congress, and later, in the U.S. Supreme Court. William Strong was regarded as fair, decent, hardworking, intelligent and personable.