John Macpherson Berrien, U.S. Senator and Attorney General

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John Macpherson Berrien, the Honorable

Birthplace: Rocky Hill, NJ, USA
Death: Died in Savannah, GA, USA
Place of Burial: Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Major John Berrien and Margaret Berrien
Husband of Eliza Berrien and Eliza Cecil Berrien
Father of Valeria Burroughs; <private> Berrien; Louisa Greene Bartow; 3 Berrien; 5 Berrien and 10 others
Half brother of Ruth Lowndes Berrien and Julia Maria Belt / Whitehead

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About John Macpherson Berrien, U.S. Senator and Attorney General

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.

During the 1820s, Berrien was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.

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.


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.

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John Macpherson Berrien, U.S. Senator and Attorney General's Timeline

August 23, 1781
Rocky Hill, NJ, USA
Age 24
December 15, 1837
Age 56
Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
October 27, 1841
Age 60
Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
January 1, 1856
Age 74
Savannah, GA, USA