Jeremiah S. Black

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Jeremiah Black
JSBlack-AG.jpg
United States Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions
In office
1861–1862
Preceded by Benjamin Howard
Succeeded by John Wallace
23rd United States Secretary of State
In office
December 17, 1860 – March 5, 1861
President James Buchanan
Preceded by Lewis Cass
Succeeded by William Seward
24th United States Attorney General
In office
March 6, 1857 – December 16, 1860
President James Buchanan
Preceded by Caleb Cushing
Succeeded by Edwin Stanton
Personal details
Born Jeremiah Sullivan Black
(1810-01-10)January 10, 1810
Stony Creek, Pennsylvania, U.S. (new Glades)
Died August 19, 1883(1883-08-19) (aged 73)
York, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Forward (1836–1883)
Children 4, including Chauncey

Jeremiah Sullivan Black (January 10, 1810 – August 19, 1883) was an American statesman and lawyer. He served as a justice on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1851–1857) and as the Court's Chief Justice (1851–1854). He also served in the Cabinet of President James Buchanan, first as Attorney General (1857–1860), and then Secretary of State (1860–1861).

Early life

Jeremiah S. Black was born on January 10, 1810, in Stony Creek, Pennsylvania, near Glades, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Representative Henry Black, and Mary (Sullivan) Black. Jeremiah Black was largely self-educated and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar before he was of age. He gradually became one of the leading American lawyers, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1851–57), serving as Chief Justice (1851–54).[1]

James Buchanan's Cabinet (1857–1861)

The Buchanan Cabinet, c. 1859: (From left to right) Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, James Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Joseph Holt, and Jeremiah Black
President Buchanan's 1861 letter nominating Jeremiah Black to the U.S. Supreme Court

In 1857, he joined the administration of James Buchanan as Attorney General. In this capacity, he successfully contested the validity of the California land claims to about 19,000 square miles (49,000 km2) of land, fraudulently alleged to have been granted to land-grabbers and others by the Mexican government prior to the close of the Mexican–American War.[1]

When Secretary of State Lewis Cass resigned in December 1860, Black was appointed to replace him, serving from December 17, 1860, to the end of Buchanan's term on March 4, 1861.[1] Black successfully urged the appointment of Edwin M. Stanton as his successor as Attorney General.

Black was perhaps the most influential of President Buchanan's official advisers too, during the secession crisis. He denied the constitutionality of secession, and urged that Fort Sumter be properly reinforced and defended.[1] However, he also argued that a state could not be legally coerced by the Federal government.

On February 5, 1861, President Buchanan nominated him for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States; but a February 21 motion to proceed to consider the nomination was defeated 25–26, and it lapsed at the end of the 36th Congress.[2] Subsequently, Black was named Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, a position he held for two years. After publishing the reports for 1861 and 1862 (U.S. 66–67), he resigned and devoted himself almost exclusively to his private law practice.[1]

Later life

After the Civil War, he vigorously opposed the Congressional plan for Reconstruction and drafted President Andrew Johnson's message vetoing the Reconstruction Act passed on March 2, 1867;[1] his veto was overridden. Black was also briefly part of the president's defense team at the outset of his 1868 impeachment trial before the United States Senate.

Later, from 1869 to 1876, he served as Counsel for U.S. Secretary of War William W. Belknap, who in 1876 was impeached on a charge of corruption; he also represented Samuel J. Tilden during the contest for the presidency between Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes.[1] He died on August 19, 1883, at the age of 73, and was buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Pennsylvania.[3]

Family

On March 23, 1836, Black married the former Mary Forward (March 24, 1819 – February 24, 1897). They had four children, Rebecca Black, Chauncey Black, Henry Black, Jr. and Mary Sullivan Black.

Further reading

  • Black, C. F., Essays and Speeches of Jeremiah S. Black, with a Biographical Sketch, New York: 1885.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ McMillion, Barry J.; Rutkus, Denis Steven (July 6, 2018). "Supreme Court Nominations, 1789 to 2017: Actions by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and the President" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "Jeremiah Sullivan Black". findagrave.com. Find A Grave. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
Attribution
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Black, Jeremiah Sullivan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
John Gibson
Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
1851–1854
Succeeded by
Ellis Lewis
Preceded by
Caleb Cushing
United States Attorney General
1857–1860
Succeeded by
Edwin Stanton
Preceded by
Benjamin Howard
United States Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions
1861–1862
Succeeded by
John Wallace
Political offices
Preceded by
Lewis Cass
United States Secretary of State
1860–1861
Succeeded by
William Seward
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