Jeremiah Sullivan Black

Black, Jeremiah Sullivan, 1810–83, American cabinet officer, b. Somerset co., Pa. Admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1830, Black became a successful lawyer. As U.S. Attorney General (1857–60) under President Buchanan he hired Edwin M. Stanton, later his successor, to clear up the involved land-title cases in California. Black was less successful, however, in enforcing unpopular legislation concerning slavery. It was his opinion that although the seceding Southern states could not be coerced, federal property in the South should be protected, and measures taken to resist armed rebellion. He replaced (Dec., 1860) Lewis Cass as Secretary of State and succeeded in persuading Buchanan to send supplies to Fort Sumter; he urged that the federal government take a strong stand against secession. Buchanan appointed him to the Supreme Court in Feb., 1861, but the Senate, with both Democrats and Republicans hostile to Black, refused to confirm him.

See P. G. Auchampaugh, James Buchanan and His Cabinet on the Eve of Secession (1926); biography by W. N. Brigance (1934, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies