Early History of the Supreme Court of the United States
A total of 112 Justices, including 17 Chief Justices, have served on the Supreme Court. Sixteen Justices have been appointed from the State of New York, the most from any single State. William O. Douglas is the longest-serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court (April 17, 1939-November 12, 1975).
The First Congress met on March 4, 1789, in Federal Hall in New York City. Among its first items of business was enacting the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created three circuit courts, and 13 district courts in major cities throughout the new country. Each district court was comprised of just one judge. The Judiciary Act also established that the Supreme Court would be comprised of a Chief Justice and five Associate Justices.
President Washington signed the Judiciary Act on September 24, 1789. That same day, he nominated John Jay of New York to be the nation's first Chief Justice, as well as James Wilson of Pennsylvania, John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Cushing of Massachusetts, Robert Harrison of Maryland, and John Blair of Virginia to serve as Associate Justices. When Robert Harrison declined to serve, President Washington nominated James Iredell of North Carolina to complete the initial composition of the Court. During Washington's term in office, he appointed three Chief Justices and eight Associate Justices, more than any other President in history.
Under the Judiciary Act, Justices were required to travel twice a year to preside over the circuit courts. The Justices rode circuits of 1,000 miles or more every spring and fall. In 1793, Congress reduced the "riding the circuit" requirement to one journey per year. Congress did not abolish the requirement until 1891 with the enactment of the Judiciary Act of 1891.