Thomas Jackson Oakley was born on November 10, 1783 near Poughkeepsie, New York. He graduated from Yale College in 1801, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1804 and set up practice in Poughkeepsie. In the years 1810 and 1811, Oakley was Surrogate of Dutchess County. He ran for Congress in 1812 and was elected as a Federalist to the Thirteenth Congress. In 1816, he was elected to the New York State Assembly.
Oakley was considered one of the outstanding lawyers of his day and in 1819, he was appointed New York State Attorney General, an office that he held until 1821. He built a thriving private practice and argued several cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, including the landmark case of Gibbons v Ogden, where Chief Justice Marshall held that the power to regulate interstate commerce was granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause.
Elected to the Twentieth Congress, Thomas Oakley served from March 4, 1827, until May 9, 1828, when he resigned to become one of the original justices (with Samuel Jones and Josiah Ogden Hoffman) of the newly established Superior Court of New York City. In 1847, he was appointed Chief Judge of the Superior Court and served in that office until his death in New York City on May 11, 1857.
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.