Lamar, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus
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Lamar, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1888 to 1893. Lamar's public service, spanning almost fifty years, included both houses of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Confederacy.
Lamar was born September 17, 1825, in Eatonton, Georgia, the son of a wealthy plantation owner. He graduated from Emory College in 1845 and then apprenticed in the law. He was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1847. In 1849 he moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where he taught mathematics at the University of Mississippi.
He briefly returned to Georgia, where he served in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1853. He relocated to Mississippi in 1855 and began building his political career. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1857 to 1860, relinquishing his seat with the secession of the southern states in 1861.Lamar played an important role in the 1861 Mississippi Secession Convention. Although he had doubts about the theory of secession from the Union, he was influenced by his fatherinlaw, Augustus Longstreet, an avowed separatist. At the convention Lamar drafted the ordinance of secession, which declared Mississippi no longer a part of the Union. He joined the Confederate militia and served as a colonel in the Mississippi regiment. He also acted in various diplomatic capacities for the Confederacy, and from 1864 to 1865, he served as Judge Advocate of the Army of Virginia.
Following the war Lamar resumed his law practice and teaching career in Oxford. His teaching duties expanded to the University of Mississippi law school. In 1873 Lamar was again elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1877 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1885 President grover cleveland appointed Lamar secretary of the interior.
In 1887 President Cleveland nominated Lamar to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican opponents fought the nomination, arguing that Lamar lacked legal experience and that he was too old. The Senate narrowly approved his nomination, by a vote of 42–38, making Lamar the first southerner to join the Court since john a. campbell in 1853, and the first Democrat since stephen j. field in 1862. He served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1888 to 1893.
Lamar's tenure on the Court was spent under the leadership of Chief Justice melville w. fuller. The Fuller Court reviewed the efforts of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce and curtail the power of monopolies and trusts. In most cases it agreed with business that the federal government had limited constitutional authority to regulate industry. Lamar concurred, adhering to a belief in the doctrine of Federalism. This doctrine has many facets, including a fundamental assumption that the national government must not intrude on the power of the states to handle their affairs.
Lamar did not author any landmark majority opinions, as he generally received inconsequential cases. He joined in the dissent of Justice Joseph P. Bradley in Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Co. v. Minnesota, 134 U.S. 418, 10 S. Ct. 462, 33 L. Ed. 970 (1890), which stated that legislatures, not courts, should determine the reasonableness of railroad rates and other public policy matters.
Lamar died January 23, 1893, in Macon, Georgia.