Back to top

Noah Haynes Swayne (American National Biography)

Scholarship

Jonathan Lurie, "Swayne, Noah Haynes," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/11/11-00830.html.

By the 1850s Swayne's hostility to slavery turned him toward the new Republican party, and he supported its first presidential candidate, John Frémont, in the 1856 election. While Swayne was serving as an aide to Republican governor William Dennison, his close friend Supreme Court Justice John McLean suddenly died in April 1861. McLean, like Swayne, had come from Ohio, and he had apparently expressed the hope that Swayne would some day take his place. With understandable if somewhat unseemly enthusiasm, Swayne moved to succeed him…

As a Supreme Court justice, Swayne had little inclination to withdraw from political activity, perhaps because his generation's ideas of judicial propriety were very different from those of a later era. When Chief Justice Roger Taney died in 1864, Swayne again mounted a political campaign for promotion. He tried to block support for his fellow Ohioan Salmon Chase. Again, he solicited endorsements from a variety of political and legal figures--including a future chief justice, Morrison R. Waite. Lincoln ultimately appointed Chase, and when Chase died in 1873, the 68-year-old Swayne without hesitation again sought the post. According to his colleague Justice Samuel Miller, Swayne "artfully beslobbered the President" for the appointment, while another commentator observed of Swayne's pursuit of the position twice within ten years that the man's "ambitions far outstripped his abilities" (Gillette, p. 997).

How to Cite This Page: "Noah Haynes Swayne (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/19383.