Read, John M. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Read was nominated by President John Tyler as an associate justice of the Supreme Court but his antislavery opinions led to his withdrawing from consideration.

Read graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1812, was admitted to the bar in 1818, and then served in several city and state jobs. After serving as U.S. district attorney for eastern Pennsylvania from 1837 to 1844, Read was nominated by President John Tyler in 1845 as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, but his confirmation met with opposition in the Senate because of Read’s antislavery opinions. He opposed any extension of slave territory and later joined in the creation of the Free-Soil Party (“free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men”). Rather than embarrass President Tyler, Read withdrew his name from consideration. He was appointed attorney general of Pennsylvania but occupied the position only a few months (June 23-December 18, 1846). He returned to private practice until his election (October, 1858) to the Pennsylvania supreme court; he became chief justice in 1872 and resigned a year later. During the 1856 presidential campaign, Read delivered a well-received speech on the power of Congress over slavery in the territories. Four years later, Read was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate but lacked the necessary political support. During the Civil War (1861-1864), he upheld the legislation of Congress.SlaveryTyler, John;nominations to the CourtSlavery

Habeas corpus

Nominations to the Court

State courts

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