He was born on September 17, 1825, Putnam Country, Georgia and Died January 23, 1893, Macon. Lawyer, U.S. secretary of the interior (1885-88), and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1888-93), was also a U.S. representative (1857-60, 1873-77) and senator (1877-85) from Mississippi. He drafted the Mississippi ordinance of secession from the Union (1861), fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War, and was appointed Confederate envoy to Russia (1862). After the war, however, his moderating influence during Reconstruction won him the sobriquet “the Great Pacificator.” As secretary of the interior he insisted that the Interstate Commerce Commission (created 1887) be subject to the presidency rather than to his own office.
Perhaps Lamar’s most important Supreme Court opinion, a dissent in In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 (1890), was an effort to limit the powers of the federal executive branch to those specified in the Constitution and in statutes enacted by Congress. In his view, the authority of the states could not be overridden by federal executive powers inferred from general theories of government.
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