lucius quintus c lamar

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (II)

This article is about the Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; for Justice Lamar's father of the same name, who was a Georgia lawyer and state court judge, see Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (I).

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (September 17, 1825January 23, 1893) was a politician and jurist from Mississippi. A United States Representative and Senator, he also served as United States Secretary of the Interior in the first administration of President Grover Cleveland, as well as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Early life and career

Lamar was born near Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia. He was a cousin of future associate justice Joseph Lamar, and nephew of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas. He graduated from Emory College (now Emory University), then located in Oxford, Georgia, in 1845, and married the daughter of Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, one of the school's early presidents. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and later established the fraternity's chapter at the University of Mississippi.

In 1849, Professor Longstreet moved to Oxford, Mississippi to take the position of Chancellor at the recently established University of Mississippi. His son-in-law followed him and took a position as a professor of mathematics for a single year. Lamar also practiced law in Oxford, eventually taking up the role as planter, establishing a cotton plantation named Solitude in Northern Lafayette County, near Abbeville.

In 1852 Lamar moved to Covington, Georgia where he practiced trucking, and in 1853 he was elected to the Georgia State House of Representatives.

Congressional career and Civil War

In 1855 he returned to Mississippi and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1856, beginning his service in 1857. When Mississippi seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy on January 9, 1861, Lamar said:

"Thank God, we have a country at last: to live for, to pray for, and if need be, to die for."

Lamar resigned from the House in December 1860 to participate in the Mississippi secession convention. Lamar considered a staff appointment, but abandoned that to co-operate with his former law partner, Christopher H. Mott. Lamar raised, and funded out of his own pocket, the 19th Mississippi Volunteer Infantry. Mott was made Colonel, as he had served as an officer in the war with Mexico, and Lamar elected Lieutenant-Colonel. Lamar then resigned his professorship in the university and was, on the 14th of May, in Montgomery, offering his regiment to the Confederate War Department. On May 15 1862, Colonel Lamar, while reviewing his regiment, fell with an attack of vertigo, which had previously disabled him, and his service as a soldier was ended. After this he served as a judge advocate, and aide to his cousin, LTG James Longstreet. He later resigned his commission to take a position in the Confederacy's diplomatic mission to France and Russia. After having his civil rights restored following the war, Lamar returned to the House in 1873, serving there until 1877. Lamar would go on to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate from 1877 to 1885.

Later career

Lamar served as United States Secretary of the Interior under President Grover Cleveland from March 6, 1885 to January 10, 1888. As part of the first Democratic administration in 24 years, and as head of the corrupt Interior Department rife with political patronage, Lamar was besieged by visitors seeking jobs. One day a visitor came that was not seeking a job and, as The New York Times later reported:

In the outer room were several prominent Democrats, including a high judicial officer, several Senators, and any number of members of the House. Mr. Lamar waved his visitor to a chair without saying a word. . . . By and by his visitor said that he would go away and return at some other time, as he feared that he was keeping the people outside. "Pray sit still," requested Mr. Lamar. "You rest me. I can look at you, and you do not ask me for anything; and you keep those people out as long as you stay in."

As secretary, Lamar removed the Department's fleet of carriages for its officials and only used his personal one-horse rockaway.

President Cleveland appointed Lamar to the Supreme Court of the United States, and he was confirmed on January 16, 1888. He served on the court until his death on January 23, 1893. He is the only Mississippian to have served on the court.

Lamar was originally interred at Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Georgia, but was reinterred at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1894.

Three U.S. counties are named in his honor: Lamar County, Alabama; Lamar County, Georgia; and Lamar County, Mississippi. Lamar was also featured in John F. Kennedy's book, Profiles in Courage, both for his elegy speech for Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in 1874, and for his unpopular vote against the Bland-Allison Act of 1878.



  • Edward Mayes, Lucius Q. C. Lamar: His Life, Times, and Speeches (Nashville, 1896)
  • ''The Department of Everything Else: Highlights of Interior History (1989)
  • Congressional Biography
  • Senate summary of Profiles in Courage

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