Jurist, US Supreme Court Associate Justice. A member of the Jacksonian and later the Democratic Party, he served in this position from August 1846 until January 1870. Born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, his father was a Presbyterian minister who educated him until he enrolled in Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1811. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree the following year, he briefly became a teacher in Carlisle until returning home to take a position at his father's school, succeeding him as headmaster in 1815. While teaching, he read law and passed the Pennsylvania bar in 1817 and established a law practice in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania until 1818, and then in Danville, Pennsylvania. In 1832 he became a political organizer for the Jacksonian Party and the following year he was given a judgeship on the Pennsylvania Distrust Court for Allegheny County. When James K. Polk became US President in March 1845, he nominated Grier for Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, which was vacated by the death of Henry Baldwin, and he was confirmed by the US Senate. He is remembered as one of two Northerners who sided with the majority in the infamous Dred Scott decision that denied civil rights to slaves and considered them to be personal property. In 1867 he suffered three strokes but stayed on the Court, although his participation was somewhat limited. In January 1871 he finally decided to retire and was succeeded by William Strong. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania eight months later at the age of 76.
Bio by: William Bjornstad