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Supreme Court Justices

Joseph Lamar (1857-1916)

Joseph Rucker Lamar was born on October 14, 1857 in Georgia. He was a member of two distinguished Georgia families, the Ruckers and the Lamars. Lamar was raised in Augusta, Georgia, where he spent most of his life. He was a childhood friend of future President Woodrow Wilson. Lamar graduated from Bethany College in 1877. The next year, after a brief time as a student in the law school at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and after reading law, Lamar was admitted to the practice of law in Georgia. He successfully practiced law in Augusta, and was by the mid-1890s asked to aid in the revision of Georgia law. Although one of three commissioners, Lamar was solely responsible for the volume that revised Georgia civil law, a revision enacted by the Georgia legislature. Lamar served on the Georgia Supreme Court between 1903 and 1905. In 1910, he and Willis Van Devanter were nominated to the Court after the retirement of William Moody and the death of Chief Justice Melville Fuller. (Then-Associate Justice Edward White was nominated to succeed Fuller as Chief Justice.) Although Lamar was well known in Georgia, and though he had argued several cases before the Supreme Court, Lamar was unknown to President William Howard Taft until 1909, when Taft, while vacationing in Augusta, met Lamar. Lamar took office on January 3, 1911.

Lamar's term in office was largely forgettable. He died on January 2, 1916, at age 58.