Stephen Johnson Field (November 4, 1816 – April 9, 1899) was an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from May 20, 1863, to December 1, 1897. Prior to this, he was the 5th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.
Born in Haddam, Connecticut, he was the sixth of the nine children of David Dudley Field I, a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Submit Dickinson. His family produced three other children of major prominence in 19th Century America: David Dudley Field II the prominent attorney, Cyrus Field the millionaire investor and creator of the Atlantic Cable, and Rev. Henry Martyn Field a prominent clergymen and travel writer. He grew up in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and went to Turkey at thirteen with his sister and her missionary husband. He graduated from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1837. While attending Williams College he was one of the original Founders of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. After studying law in New York City with his brother David Dudley Field II, they practiced law together until 1848 when he went west to California in the Gold Rush.
There his legal practice boomed and he was elected alcalde, a form of mayor and justice of the peace under the old Mexican rule of law, of Marysville. Because the Gold Rush city could afford no jail, and it cost too much to transport prisoners to San Francisco, Field implemented the whipping post, believing that without such a brutal implement many in the rough and tumble city would be hanged for minor crimes. The voters sent him to the California State Assembly in 1850 to represent Yuba County, but he lost a race the next year for the State Senate. His successful legal practice led to his election to the California Supreme Court in 1857, serving six years. He notably struck down the racist Pigtail Ordinance, making him unpopular with the Californian public.