Justice John McLean

On this date in 1861, Justice John McLean of the United State Supreme Court died in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Born in Morris County, New Jersey on March 11, 1785, McLean moved with his family to Virginia, Kentucky and eventually Ohio.  In 1804, McLean took a position as Clerk of Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County, Ohio.  During this time he “read the law” and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1807.  McLean moved to Lebanon, Ohio where he published the Western Star newspaper as well as practiced law.  From 1811-12, McLean served as examiner of the U.S. Congressional Land Office in Cincinnati.  In 1812, McLean was elected the the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1816.  In 1816, the Ohio legislature appointed him to the Ohio Supreme Court where he served from 1816 to 1822.  In 1822, McLean was appointed Commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office in Washington, D.C. by President James Monroe.  In 1823, McLean was appointed Postmaster General.  On March 7, 1829, President Andrew Jackson nominated John McLean to the position of Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court for the seat left vacant by Justice Robert Trimble.  During his 22 years on the Court, McLean wrote 160 majority opinions and had the difficult task of “riding circuit” over remote areas of the country.  McLean also continued his active political life while on the Court, including political manuevering to obtain the U.S. Presidency. A noted author on Justice McLean’s life once noted that while McLean spent most of his public life while on the bench, he was a politician before he became a jurist, and remained a politician until the day he died.