John McLean

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John McLean
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: March 7, 1829 – April 4, 1861
Nominator Andrew Jackson
Predecessor Robert Trimble
Successor Noah Haynes Swayne
6th United States Postmaster General
From: June 26, 1823 – March 4, 1829
Predecessor Return J. Meigs, Jr.
Successor William T. Barry
Party Jeffersonian Republican, Jacksonian, National Republican, Anti-Masonic, Republican
Spouse(s) Rebecca E. Edwards McLean
Sarah Bella Ludlow Garrard McLean
Religion Methodist

John McLean was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. McLean notably dissented from Dred Scott v. Sanford. McLean wrote an important majority opinion concerning public domain in Wheaton v. Peters.[1] He served on the Court for 32 years.


  • “In the [Dred Scott v. Sanford] argument, it was said that a colored citizen would not be an agreeable member of society. This is more a matter of taste than law ... [for] under the late treaty with Mexico we made citizens of all grades, combinations and colors.”
  • "For many years, my hope for the perpetuity of our institutions has rested upon Bible morality and the general dissemination of Christian principles. This is an element which did not exist in the ancient republics. It is a basis on which free governments may be maintained through all time. . . . Free government is not a self-moving machine. . . . Our mission of freedom is not carried out by brute force, by canon law, or any other law except the moral law and those Christian principles which are found in the Scriptures."[2]


  1. John McLean (English). law.jrank.
  2. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 639.