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Supreme Court Justices

John McLean (1785 - 1861)

John McLean was born in New Jersey on March 11, 1785. He parents continually moved west, until they settled in Ohio when McLean was 12. In the early 1800s, McLean read law with several lawyers in Cincinnati. McLean was a Democrat who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1812, as war with Great Britain began. After several years in the House, McLean returned to Ohio and to the Ohio Supreme Court. In 1823, he became postmaster general, a position he held during both the administration of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Although working in the Adams administration, McLean ingratiated himself with the Democratic nominee for President in 1828, Andrew Jackson. McLean was appointed to the Supreme Court by Jackson in 1829, 18 months after the death of Robert Trimble, though McLean didn't take the oath of office until the following Term of the Court, in January 1830. Although he would remain on the Court until his death in 1861, McLean regularly sought the nomination for President, largely indiscriminate of political party.

Along with his fellow Cincinnatian Salmon Chase, McLean was a staunch opponent of slavery. He dissented in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, and was one of two dissenters in Dred Scott v. Sandford.

McLean's dissent made him a possible presidential candidate in 1860, despite his advancing age. On April 4, 1861, McLean died in his hometown of Cincinnati.