John Catron (1786-1865)
is believed that John Catron was born in Pennsylvania in 1786, although
biographers remain uncertain. He was raised in Virginia and Kentucky,
and at 21 married Mary Childress. Catron then moved to Tennessee and
fought under the command of Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. After
the end of the war, Catron began practicing law in Tennessee (his formal
training in law was slight at best). By 1824, Catron was a member of
Tennessee's Court of Errors and Appeals, its highest court. He became
its Chief Justice in 1831. The Court was eliminated by the Tennessee
legislature in 1834, and Catron practiced law for two years. Along with
William Smith, whose nomination was not confirmed by the Senate, Catron
was nominated to the Supreme Court by Andrew Jackson on March 3, 1837,
Jackson's last full day as President. Catron was a member of the Court
for 28 years until his death on May 30, 1865, less than two months after
the end of the Civil War.
A southerner, Catron supported the institution of slavery, and joined the majority's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford. He opposed secession, and urged Tennessee remain in the Union.