The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions - Vol. 2

By Leon Friedman; Fred L. Israel | Go to book overview

Other cases where Lamar took a similar position strictly exempting interstate commerce from state taxation were Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U.S. 100 ( 1890) (opinion by Fuller); Norfolk & Western Railroad Co. v. Pennsylvania, 136 U.S. 114 ( 1890) (opinion by Lamar); and Maine v. Grand Trunk Railway Co., 142 U.S. 29 ( 1891) (joining Bradley dissent).

Lamar enjoyed his Court life, though the labor was hard on his health. He admired his brethren as "the smartest old fellows I ever saw; and they take each other up pretty sharply sometimes." Chief Justice Fuller, for his part, said Lamar's contribution was especially valuable at the conference table: "His was the most suggestive mind that I ever knew, and not one of us but has drawn from its inexhaustible store."

Toward the last, Lamar's strain of pessimism and inner pathos came out again. Willie Halsell writes that when asked by a younger relative about public service, Lamar, deep in his sixties, reviewed his varied and celebrated career, but said he would advise no man to enter politics. For now in his old age, said the Justice, he had no money, no home, poor health, few real friends, his family was widely scattered, and he was forgotten by his people.

L.Q.C. Lamar died on January 23, 1893, in his native Georgia, where he had gone to rest. Above all and always, he had been the devoted Southerner, whose guiding direction was the protection of the "Southern Way of Life," as he understood it from his patrician, dedicated background. He had seen Southernism merge back into Americanism, for better or for worse. And he personally, in every department of the American constitutional system, had led the return.


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

A lengthy biography of Lamar, including the texts of his major addresses, was written by his son-in-law, Edward Mayes, shortly after Lamar's death: Lucius Q. C. Lamar, His Life, Times, and Speeches ( Nashville, 1896). It is very sympathetic to Lamar and contains little significant analysis, but is invaluable for its elaborate presentation of events and documents. The later biography by W. A. Cate, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Secession and Reunion ( Chapel Hill, N.C., 1935), relies heavily on Mayes and offers little new concerning Lamar's role in Congress or on the court. Essential for understanding Lamar's political activities in the 1870s are C. Vann Woodward's Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 ( Baton Rouge, La., 1951) and Reunion and Reaction ( Boston, 1951), both of which have many references to Lamar. W. D. Halsell published a series of articles on Lamar in the 1940s, including " L. Q. C. Lamar, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court," 5 Journal of Mississippi History 59 ( April 1943). Also see B. L. Reeves, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar: Reluctant Secessionist and Spokesman for the South, 1860-1885 ( Ann Arbor, Mich., 1973), available on microfilm.

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