Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John M. Berrien (1829–1831): Attorney General

John MacPherson Berrien was born in 1781 in Rocky Hill, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton College in 1796 and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1799.

Berrien began his law practice in 1799, at the age of 18, and worked as a private attorney until 1810 when he assumed the judgeship of the Eastern District of Georgia. He served in this position until 1821, during which time he was a captain of the Georgia Hussars in the War of 1812.

From 1822 to 1823, Berrien was a state senator before becoming a member of the United States Senate in 1825. He remained in the Senate until 1829, when he resigned his post to become President Andrew Jackson's attorney general, serving from 1829 until he resigned in 1831. Berrien then returned to private practice but headed back to Washington, D.C., in 1841 as a Whig in the United States Senate, and he stayed in that post until 1852. John MacPherson Berrien died in 1856.