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John M. Berrien: Wikis

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John M. Berrien

John MacPherson Berrien (August 23, 1781 – January 1, 1856) of Georgia was a United States Senator and Andrew Jackson's Attorney General.

Born at Rocky Hill, New Jersey, to a family of Huguenot ancestry, Berrien moved with his parents to Savannah, Georgia, in 1782; was graduated from Princeton College in 1796; studied law in Savannah; was admitted to the bar at the age of 18, and began practice in Louisville, Georgia, in 1799. After he returned to Savannah he was elected solicitor of the eastern judicial circuit of Georgia in 1809; judge of the same circuit from 1810 until January 30, 1821, when he resigned. He served as captain of the Georgia Hussars, a Savannah volunteer company, in the War of 1812.

Berrien was a member of the Georgia Senate from 1822 to 1823. He was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1825, until March 9, 1829, when resigned to accept the position of Attorney General in the Cabinet of President Andrew Jackson. He held that post from March 9, 1829, until June 22, 1831, when he resigned. After leaving the Cabinet he resumed the practice of law until he was again elected, as a Whig, to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1841, until May 1845, when he again resigned to accept an appointment to the supreme court of Georgia; again elected in 1845 to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by his second resignation; reelected in 1846 and served from November 13, 1845, until May 28, 1852, when he resigned for the third time.

Berrien's views on sectional issues hardened during his tenure in the Senate and he became aligned with the short-lived Southern Rights Party formed to oppose the Compromise of 1850 and the Wilmot Proviso.

He served as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in the 20th, 26th and 27th Congresses. He was president of the American Party convention at Milledgeville in 1855; and died in Savannah on January 1, 1856. He is interred in Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Legacy

Berrien County, Georgia, and Berrien County, Michigan (one of Michigan's Cabinet Counties, organized during his term as attorney general), are named in his honor.

References

United States Senate
Preceded by
John Elliott
United States Senator (Class 3) from Georgia
March 4, 1825 – March 9, 1829
Served alongside: Thomas W. Cobb, Oliver H. Prince, George Troup
Succeeded by
John Forsyth
Preceded by
Wilson Lumpkin
United States Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
March 4, 1841 – May, 1845
Served alongside: Alfred Cuthbert, Walter T. Colquitt
Succeeded by
John M. Berrien
Preceded by
John M. Berrien
United States Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
November 13, 1845 – May 28, 1852
Served alongside: Walter T. Colquitt, Herschel V. Johnson, William C. Dawson
Succeeded by
Robert M. Charlton
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Wirt
United States Attorney General
March 9, 1829 – June 22, 1831
Succeeded by
Roger B. Taney
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