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Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

In office
January 16, 1888[1] – January 23, 1893
Nominated by Grover Cleveland
Preceded by William Burnham Woods
Succeeded by Howell Edmunds Jackson
16th United States Secretary of the Interior

In office
March 6, 1885 – January 10, 1888
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Henry M. Teller
Succeeded by William Freeman Vilas
United States Senator from Mississippi

In office
President Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur
Preceded by James L. Alcorn
Succeeded by Edward C. Walthall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi's 1st congressional district

In office
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by George E. Harris
Succeeded by Henry Muldrow
Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Mississippi's 1st congressional district

In office
President Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan
Preceded by Daniel B. Wright
Succeeded by vacant (secession)
Personal details
Born (1825-09-17)September 17, 1825
Eatonton, Georgia
Died January 23, 1893(1893-01-23) (aged 67)
Vineville, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Emory College
Occupation Professor, Lawyer, Politician
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States of America
Service/branch Seal of the Confederate States of America.svg Confederate States Army
Rank Confederate States of America Lieutenant Colonel.png Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (September 17, 1825 – January 23, 1893) was an American 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 at the family home of "Fairfield," near Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, the son of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar and Sarah Williamson Bird. 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 was among the first initiates in that fraternity's chapter at the University of Mississippi.[2]

In 1849, Lamar's father-in-law, Professor Longstreet, moved to Oxford, Mississippi to take the position of Chancellor at the recently established University of Mississippi. Lamar followed him and took a position as a professor of mathematics for a single year. He 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 law, 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."[3]

Lamar retired from the House in December 1860 to become a member in the Mississippi Secession Convention. The state's Ordinance of Secession (see also Mississippi Ordinance of Secession) was drafted by Lamar. 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 May 14, 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, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Later in 1862, Confederate States President Jefferson Davis appointed Lamar as Confederate minister to Russia and special envoy to England and France. When the Civil War was over, he returned to the University of Mississippi where he was a professor of metaphysics, social science and law. In 1865, 1868, 1875, 1877, and 1881, he was also a member of Mississippi's constitutional conventions. After having his civil rights restored following the war, Lamar returned to the House in 1873, the first Democrat from Mississippi to sit in the U.S. House of Representatives since the Civil War. He served 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 who 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."[4]

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

Lamar's Supreme Court nomination

During an 1884–85 Geological Survey, Geologist Arnold Hague named the East Fork of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park the Lamar River in his honor. The Lamar Valley, or the Secluded Valley of Trapper Osborne Russell and other park features or administrative names which contain Lamar are derived from this original naming in honor of Secretary of the Interior Lamar.[5]

President Cleveland appointed Lamar to the Supreme Court of the United States, and he was confirmed on January 16, 1888, making him the first justice of Southern origin appointed after the Civil War (William Burnham Woods, while appointed as a resident of Alabama, was a native of Ohio and a Republican). 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 eulogy speech for Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in 1874, and for his unpopular vote against the Bland-Allison Act of 1878.


  1. "Federal Judicial Center: Lucius Lamar". 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  2. Levere, Thomas. "A Paragraph History of Sigma Alpha Epsilon From The Founding of The Fraternity Until The Present Time". A Paragraph History of Sigma Alpha Epsilon From The Founding of The Fraternity Until The Present Time. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  3. The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. Dir. Ken Burns, Narr. David McCullough, Writ. and prod. Ken Burns, PBS DVD Gold edition, Warner Home Video, 2002, ISBN 0-7806-3887-5.
  4. "Justice Lamar's Death" (PDF). January 25, 1893. p. 8. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  5. Haines, Aubrey L.. Yellowstone Place Names-Mirrors of History. Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-87081-382-X. 


External links[]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Daniel B. Wright
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
vacant (secession)
Preceded by
George E. Harris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Henry Muldrow
United States Senate
Preceded by
James L. Alcorn
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Blanche K. Bruce, James Z. George
Succeeded by
Edward C. Walthall
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Moore Teller
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Grover Cleveland

Succeeded by
William Freeman Vilas
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Burnham Woods
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Succeeded by
Howell Edmunds Jackson

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