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Abraham Lincoln's Supreme Court

President Lincoln appointed five Justices to the United State Supreme Court during a critical period in American history. When he assumed the presidency in 1861 the Court had only one vacancy. However, Justice McLean soon died and Justice Campbell resigned to join the Southern Confederacy.

Lincoln did not fill any positions until 1862, when he nominated Noah Swayne, Samuel Miller, and David Davis. In 1863 Stephen Field became the tenth Justice after Congress expanded the Court. When Chief Justice Roger Taney died in 1864, Lincoln appointed his former Treasury Secretary to succeed him.

During this period Justices received an annual salary of $6,000 and were expected to travel the circuit to hear federal cases. They met for only one term a year in the U.S. Capitol. The chamber pictured is the one the Court occupied in the U.S. Capitol building during the Civil War.

U. S. Supreme Court Members During the Lincoln Administration (March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865)

JOHN ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, Associate Justice
Born June 24, 1811; died March 12, 1889
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- Alabama
Appointed By -- Franklin Pierce
Replaced -- John McKinley
Oath Taken -- April 11, 1853
Resigned Office -- April 20, 1861

JOHN CATRON, Associate Justice
Born ca. January 7, 1786; died May 30, 1865
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- Tennessee
Nominated By -- Andrew Jackson; Confirmed By -- Martin Van Buren
Oath Taken -- May 1, 1837
Died in Office -- May 30, 1865

SALMON PORTLAND CHASE, Chief Justice
Born January 13, 1808; died May 7, 1873
Party -- Republican
Home State -- Ohio
Appointed By -- Abraham Lincoln
Replaced -- Roger Brooke Taney
Oath Taken -- December 15, 1864
Died in Office -- May 7, 1873

NATHAN CLIFFORD, Associate Justice
Born August 18, 1803; died July 25, 1881
Party -- Democrat
Home State --- Maine
Appointed By -- James Buchanan
Replaced -- Benjamin Curtis
Oath Taken -- January 21, 1858
Died in Office -- July 25, 1881

DAVID DAVIS, Associate Justice
Born March 9, 1815; died June 26, 1886
Party -- Republican
Home State -- Illinois
Appointed By -- Abraham Lincoln
Replaced -- John Campbell
Oath Taken -- December 10, 1862
Resigned Office -- March 4, 1877

STEPHEN JOHNSON FIELD, Associate Justice
Born November 4, 1816; died April 9, 1899
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- California
Appointed By -- Abraham Lincoln
Oath Taken -- May 20, 1863
Resigned Office -- December 1, 1897

ROBERT COOPER GRIER, Associate Justice
Born March 5, 1794; died September 25, 1870
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- Pennsylvania
Appointed By -- James Polk
Replaced -- Henry Baldwin
Oath Taken -- August 10, 1846
Resigned Office -- January 31, 1870

JOHN MC LEAN, Associate Justice
Born March 11, 1785; died April 4, 1861
Party at Appointment -- Democrat
Home State -- Ohio
Appointed By -- Andrew Jackson
Replaced -- Robert Trimble
Oath Taken -- January 11, 1830
Died in Office -- April 4, 1861

SAMUEL FREEMAN MILLER, Associate Justice
Born April 5, 1816; died October 13, 1890
Party -- Republican
Home State -- Iowa
Appointed By -- Abraham Lincoln
Replaced -- Peter Daniel
Oath Taken -- July 21, 1862
Died in Office -- October 13, 1890

SAMUEL NELSON, Associate Justice
Born November 10, 1792; died December 13, 1873
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- New York
Appointed By -- John Tyler
Replaced -- Smith Thompson
Oath Taken -- February 27, 1845
Resigned Office -- November 28, 1872

NOAH HAYNES SWAYNE, Associate Justice
Born December 7, 1804; died June 8, 1884
Party -- Republican
Home State -- Ohio
Appointed By -- Abraham Lincoln
Replaced -- John McLean
Oath Taken -- January 27, 1862
Resigned Office -- January 24, 1881

ROGER BROOKE TANEY, Chief Justice
Born March 17, 1777; died October 12, 1864
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- Maryland
Appointed By -- Andrew Jackson
Replaced -- John Marshall
Oath Taken -- March 28, 1836
Died in Office -- October 12, 1864

JAMES MOORE WAYNE, Associate Justice
Born ca. January 1, 1790; died July 5, 1867
Party -- Democrat
Home State -- Georgia
Appointed By -- Andrew Jackson
Replaced -- William Johnson
Oath Taken -- January 14, 1835
Died in Office -- July 5, 1867

Related Reading
Abraham, Henry J. Justices and Presidents. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Friedman, Leon and Fred L. Israel, editors. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.
King, Willard. Lincoln's Manager, David Davis. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960.
Silver, David M. Lincoln's Supreme Court. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1956.
Simon, James F. Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Related Links
Lincoln Legal Career Links*
Lincoln's Advice to Lawyers*
Lincoln's Law Office*
Lincoln's Notes for a Law Lecture*
The Supreme Court Historical Society
U. S. Supreme Court

*Indicates pages created by Abraham Lincoln Online

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