Berrien, John MacPherson, 1781-1856

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1781-08-23
Death 1856-01-01
English

Biographical notes:

John Macpherson Berrien was an eloquent lawyer, a U.S. senator, and the attorney general of the United States during U.S. president Andrew Jackson's administration. Berrien County, created in south Georgia in 1856, is named for him.

From the description of Berrien, John letters, 1796-1799. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 268674733

Georgia resident (Savannah) and U.S. senator.

From the description of Letters, 1820-1852. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 34122364

John MacPherson Berrien (1781-1856), lawyer, Georgia Senate (1822-1823), U.S. Senator (1824-1829 and 1841-1852), and U.S. Attorney-General (1829-1831), resided mainly in Savannah, Georgia.

From the description of Letters to Littleton W. Tazewell, 1825-1849. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 38476256

Lawyer, U.S. senator from Georgia, and U.S. attorney general.

From the description of John MacPherson Berrien papers, 1778-1938. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 22150846

Berrien served as a U.S. Senator from Georgia (1825-1829; 1841-1852) and as U.S. Attorney General (1829-1831).

From the description of Letter to John Morel, Esq. of Savannah, Georgia, 1826. (Harvard Law School Library). WorldCat record id: 235083624

Berrien was a congressman and native of New Jersey who came from a prominent family of Huguenot descent. He graduated from The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1796, moved to Savannah, Georgia, to study law, was admitted to practice in 1799, and in 1824 was elected United States senator.

From the description of John Macpherson Berrien collection, 1799-1932. (Peking University Library). WorldCat record id: 61668710

U.S. attorney general, U.S. senator of Georgia, lawyer, and jurist.

From the description of John MacPherson Berrien papers, 1826-1934. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79453376

John Macpherson Berrien was an eloquent lawyer, a U.S. senator, and the attorney general of the United States during U.S. president Andrew Jackson's administration. Berrien County, created in south Georgia in 1856, is named for him. He was born on August 23, 1781, in Rockhill, New Jersey, at the home of his grandfather, John Berrien. His grandfather, of French Huguenot ancestry, was one of New Jersey's colonial justices and a close friend of George Washington; his home may have served as Washington's headquarters while he wrote his famous farewell address to the troops. Berrien's father, John Berrien, had served in the Revolutionary War (1775-83) under Lachlan McIntosh of Georgia. Berrien's mother, descended from a long line of Scots Highlanders, was a member of the Macpherson family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Berrien's father moved his family to Savannah. Following preparatory studies in New York, young John Berrien entered the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), from which he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1796 at the age of fifteen. He read law in the office of Joseph Clay Jr., a prominent lawyer and federal judge, before being admitted to the Georgia bar in 1799. Berrien himself became a judge in 1810 after serving for a time as solicitor general of the Eastern Judicial Circuit of Georgia. During the War of 1812 (1812-15), he was a captain in the Chatham Light Dragoons and later a colonel in the First Georgia Cavalry. In 1822 and 1823 Berrien represented Chatham County in the Georgia senate. In 1825 the Georgia legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he proved himself an eloquent debater on a number of the era's great issues. His oratorical powers earned him the title "American Cicero," and Chief Justice John Marshall dubbed him "the honey-tongued Georgia youth." Berrien had many honors conferred upon him during his long career. In 1830 he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from his alma mater, as well as a doctorate of laws from the University of Georgia, where for thirty years he served as a trustee. Berrien was one of the Georgia Historical Society's founders in 1839 and its first president. He was president of the Georgia branch of the Society of the Cincinnati, a member of the board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and president of the American Bible Society. Berrien died on New Year's Day, 1856, at the age of seventy-four. John MacPherson Berrien (1781-1856) - New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ (Retrieved March 26, 2009)

Richard Henry Wilde, a Representative from Georgia; born in Dublin, Ireland, September 24, 1789; immigrated to the United States in 1797 with his parents, who settled in Baltimore, Md.; received a limited schooling; moved to Augusta, Ga., in 1802; engaged in mercantile pursuits; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1809 and commenced practice in Augusta; solicitor general of the superior court of Richmond County and by virtue of this office attorney general of Georgia 1811-1813; elected as a Republican to the Fourteenth Congress (March 4, 1815-March 3, 1817); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1816 to the Fifteenth Congress; elected as a Crawford Republican to the Eighteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Thomas W. Cobb and served from February 7 to March 3, 1825; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1824 to the Nineteenth Congress and for election in 1826 to the Twentieth Congress; subsequently elected as a Jacksonian to the Twentieth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John Forsyth; reelected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-first, Twenty-second, and Twenty-third Congresses and served from November 17, 1827, to March 3, 1835; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1834 to the Twenty-fourth Congress; engaged in literary pursuits while traveling in Europe 1835-1840; moved to New Orleans in 1843 and continued the practice of law; professor of constitutional law in the University of Louisiana at New Orleans; died in New Orleans, La., September 10, 1847; interment in a vault in a cemetery in New Orleans; reinterred at Sand Hill family burying ground near Augusta, Ga., in 1854 and again in 1886 in the City Cemetery, Augusta, Ga. Biographical Directory of the United States Conference http://bioguide.congress.gov (Retrieved March 26, 2009)

From the description of John MacPherson Berrien / Richard Henry Wilde letter, 10 October 1821. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 317153989

John MacPherson Berrien was born at Rockingham, N.J., on 23 August 1781, but grew up in Savannah, Ga., after his father, John Berrien, a major in the Continental Army, acquired a number of plantations in Georgia. Berrien attended preparatory school in New York and was graduated from Princeton in 1796. He studied law in the office of Joseph Clay and, after he was admitted to the bar, began to practice in Georgia in 1799. He was elected solicitor of the eastern circuit in 1809 and judge of that same circuit in 1810-1821. He was in the state Senate, 1822-1823, and was elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1824. He served there until 1829 when he accepted appointment as Attorney General under Andrew Jackson. He resigned from Jackson's cabinet on 22 June 1831, as a consequence of the Eaton affair.

Berrien was again elected to the United States Senate as a Whig in 1841. He was a delegate from Georgia to the 1844 Whig National Convention in Baltimore. In May 1845, he resigned his seat in the Senate because of his dissatisfaction with politics in Georgia. He apparently intended to accept an appointment on the Georgia Supreme Court, but his Whig friends in Georgia promptly re-elected him to the Senate seat he had vacated. He served from November 1845 to March 1847, when he was reelected. He resigned from the Senate again in 1852 after the election of Robert Augustus Toombs, then a member of the Constitutional Union Party, to that seat. Berrien had withdrawn from the Whig Party in 1850 and had joined the American or Know-Nothing Party. He presided over the Georgia American Party convention in December 1855 shortly before his death on 1 January 1856.

From the guide to the John MacPherson Berrien Papers, 1778-1938, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

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Subjects:

  • Lawyers
  • Congress
  • Legislators
  • Artists
  • Applications for positions
  • Farm life
  • Land use
  • Legislators--Correspondence
  • Smithsonian Institution
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Occupations:

  • Lawyers
  • Cabinet officers
  • Jurists
  • Senators, U.S. Congress--Georgia

Places:

  • Georgia--Savannah (as recorded)
  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Savannah (Ga.) (as recorded)
  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • Georgia--Augusta (as recorded)
  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • Florida (as recorded)
  • New Jersey (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)