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sessed the unbounded respect of all classes of people in Georgia, who esteemed him as the very embodiment of Roman justice itself.
Judge Nisbet remained on the supreme bench only eight years, retiring soon after Judge Warner in 1853, and never resumed the ermine. But during this comparatively brief period he rendered important decisions which made his name familiar throughout the world-wide literature of the profession. Unless exception is made of Judge Bleckley, who resigned the chief justiceship late in the '90s, Judge Nisbet is the most frequently quoted of all the oracles of the Supreme Court of Georgia; and with Judge Bleckley he has been accorded admission into that professional Valhalla, entitled "Great Decisions by Great Judges."
But Judge Nisbet has been quoted at times by eminent judicial authorities in other states without receiving due credit for services rendered. To be specific, it will be found that Judge Fowler, in the fortyfirst volume of New Hampshire Reports, has reproduced almost verbatim an important decision of Judge Nisbet found in the eleventh volume of Georgia Reports, giving him only foot-note credit as an authority cited. There is a difference as old as the Ten Commandments between citing authority and paraphrasing language, and Judge Fowler has winked at the Decalogue to the extent of falling into the latter grievous error. The deadly parallel columns would probably never have been drawn had not the case become celebrated and the credit for having adjudicated the principle been inadvertently assigned to Judge Fowler.
Judge Nisbet's strength lay not only in his thorough legal scholarship but in his discriminating powers of analysis and especially in his crystal transparency of statement. Without wasting time in elaboration he was spontaneously familiar with all the classics and fluently expressed himself in terms of the most liberal culture.
Judge Lumpkin cared nothing for political honors, and allowed no offers, however tempting, to shake his resolute determination to remain upon the bench. It is rather singular that gifts which in the legislative halls or on the hustings would have lifted him at once into the leadership or which before the jury would have earned him one of the largest professional incomes in the state, should nevertheless have been devoted to the laborious routine of the bench. But it filled the measure of Judge Lumpkin's ambition to wear the judicial ermine of the Supreme Court, and since it gave him an opportunity to mold the judiciary system of the state he could not have linked his name with a service better calculated to endear his memory to the people of Georgia.
But Judge Nisbet and Judge Warner were both fond of political life and both occupied seats in the halls of Congress before the war. They were also both active upon the stage of political events in Georgia immediately prior to the outbreak of the struggle, but they approached the great issue of secession from diametrically opposite standpoints. Judge Nisbet not only advocated secession, but was himself the author of the ordinance which swept Georgia from the Union in 1861. Judge Warner not only opposed secession, but even after the fight was over and the committee had been appointed to draft the formal syllables of dissolution, he still refused to join the majority ranks. He believed in the constitutional right of the state to secede, but he doubted the expediency of the proposed step, believing that the problems could all be adjusted
within the Union and that the act of separation meant war.
He was opposed to disruption. At the Charleston convention he had refused to join the southern revolt led by Wm. L. Yancey, believing that the only hope of success lay in the consolidation of forces under the banner of the national democracy. Judge Nisbet felt that since the fundamental law of the land had been repudiated by the anti-slavery aggressors the cause of constitutional liberty was imperiled and the time had come for the state to resume her sovereign rights.
Twenty years before, Judge Nisbet and Judge Warner had differed even more widely, the former having been a whig and the latter a democrat. At the present time they were both democrats, separating only upon the great issue of secession. As soon as Georgia had spoken Judge Warner, with patriotic submission, accepted the result and gave to Georgia his undivided allegiance; but he performed this act of patriotic surrender without in the least modifying his conviction that the course which the state had taken was unwise. Without stopping to measure consequences, Judge Nisbet felt that grievances had become so multiplied that Georgia was left no choice in honor and in self-respect except to withdraw from the compact.
Both men could boast of ancestries whose principles had been put to the most rigid test. Judge Warner had come from Puritan New England, where his forefathers, between the Indians on one hand and the icicles on the other, had mastered the difficult lessons of life in the bitterest school of hardships. Judge Nisbet had always lived in Georgia, but he had sprung from sturdy old Scotch Presbyterian Covenanters, one of whom, Capt. John Visbet, had been executed on the streets of Edinburgh because he refused to surrender the supreme tribunal of his conscience even to the royal edict of his king.
Both brought to bear in serving Georgia, under circumstances of peculiar stress, the same rugged principles which had come down to them from ancestral molds; and tried though they were in the very fires and found to be pure gold, they both missed the gubernatorial chair which they had honorably coveted and which they would have richly adorned. What seem to be the ingratitudes of politics are sometimes difficult to explain; but neither Judge Nisbet nor Judge Warner were politicians in the fiddle-dancing sense of the term. They were rugged old jurists, who understood better how to construe laws and hold principles than to make votes, and, besides, in fearlessly wielding the ax with honest strokes from the shoulder, they gave far more heed to the mark than to the chips.
One of the most striking of what may be called the judicial characteristics of Judge Lumpkin was his pronounced aversion to the mere technicalities of court procedure. Wherever vital principles were involved he refused to play the iconoclast; but no amount of antiquity could make him venerate forms and ceremonies which possessed no essential value; and toward the task of simplifying the routine of the court he bent all the reforming zeal of Martin Luther. “Where lies the justice of the case ?” was the question uppermost in the mind of Judge Lumpkin, and he almost savagely tore aside the husks to lay bare the hidden grain of truth.
WAR WITH MEXICO OVER THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS—THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT CALLS UPON GEORGIA FOR A REGIMENT—IN RESPONSE TO THIS CALL, TEN COMPANIES ARE ORGANIZED AT COLUMBUS, UNDER HENRY R. JACKSON AS COLONEL-GEORGIANS IN THE REGULAR ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES—GEN. W. H. T. WALKER—GEN. W. S. WALKER_COL. JAMES MCINTOSII—OTHERS IN THE VOLUNTEER SERVICE ACHIEVE DISTINCTION—GEN, David E. TWIGGS-COL. ROBERT M. ECHOLS—COMMODORE JOSIAH TATTNALL COMMANDS THE FAMOUS “MOSQUITO FLEET'?—THE WILMOT PROVISO PRECIPITATES A GREAT DEBATE IN THE NATIONAL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES— MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DURING THIS PERIOD_WALTER T. COLQUITT RESIGNS THE TOGA—HERSCHEL V. JOHNSON SUCCEEDS HIM UNTIL WILLIAM C. DAWSON IS ELECTED—GEORGE W. TOWNS, A DEMOCRAT, DEFEATS GEN. DUNCAN L. CLINCH, A WHIG, FOR GOVERNOR—THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1848–GEORGIA SUPPORTS THE WHIG CANDIDATE, GEN. ZACHARY TAYLOR—“ROUGH AND READY" Is ELECTED—ExGOVERNOR CRAWFORD BECOMES SECRETARY OF WAR—JOSEPH E. BROWN MAKES HIS ADVENT IN GEORGIA POLITICS-HOWELL COBB BECOMES SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESPRESIDES OVER A STORMY SESSION—THE RESULTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR—THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN THE SIERRAS–CALIFORNIA SEEKS ADMISSION AS A FREE STATE—AN ERA OF VIOLENT PASSION—THE COMPROMISE OF 1850_MR. CLAY'S LAST GREAT ACHIEVEMENT—THE GEORGIA RESOLUTIONS_SECESSION FIRES EXTINGUISHED—GOVERNOR Towns RE-ELECTED—Two New. COUNTIES CREATED—CLINCH AND GORDON—THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF GEORGIA ORGANIZES INTO A SEPARATE JURISDICTION=STATISTICS OF GEORGIA IN 1850.
In May, 1846, the United States War Department called upon Georgia for a regiment of infantry to serve in Mexico. Nor was the state long in responding to this call. Ten companies were selected; and these, meeting in June at Columbus, formed a regiment the numerical strength of which aggregated 898 officers and men. The field officers chosen at this time were: Henry R. Jackson, colonel ; Thomas Y. Redd, lieutenant-colonel ; Charles J. Williams, major, and John Forsyth, adjutant. The Georgia Regiment of Volunteers was composed of the following companies: The Columbus Guards, 87 members; the Georgia Light Infantry, 91 members, and the Crawford Guards, 83 members, all from Columbus; the Richmond Blues, of Augusta, 93 members; the Jasper Greens, of Savannah, 86 members; the Macon Guards, of Macon, 92 members; the Sumter County Volunteers, of Americus, 89 members; the Fannin Avengers, from Pike County, 93 members; the Kenesaw
Rangers, from Cobb County, 92 members; and the Canton Volunteers, from Cherokee, 90 members.
This regiment left at once for Mexico. But it was destined to see little fighting. Twelve months—the entire period of enlistment-passed without bringing them into hostile encounter with the foe; and except to furnish details of soldiers for guarding money trains and provision wagons, it took no part in the campaign. To men who were full of the ardor of conflict, such inaction was galling; but to make matters infinitely worse an unhealthy camp site, amid tropical surroundings, superinduced fever, from which many of these volunteers died.
However, there were other companies to enlist. · Besides, there were many recruits from Georgia to join the regular army of the United States. Some of the Georgians who distinguished themselves in the Mexican war were: Gen. David E. Twiggs, Gen. W. H. T. Walker, Gen. William S. Walker, Col. James McIntosh, Col. Robert M. Echols, Lieut. James Longstreet, Lieut. William M. Gardiner, and others. Col. James McIntosh, a hero of the War of 1812, fell at the head of his regiment, when in sight of the walls of the City of Mexico. IIe belonged to the regular army and at Palo Alto had been severely wounded. Colonel Echols was thrown from his horse at the Natural Bridge, in Mexico, sustaining injuries from which he died; but he had already been breveted a brigadier-general. Lieut. James Longstreet, destined to be known in the history of the great Civil war as “Lee's Old War Horse,'' earned his spurs in the Mexican campaign and was wounded at Chapultepec.
Commodore Josiah Tattnall, of the American navy, also won distinction in command of his famous "Mosquito Fleet."
Two brilliant victories achieved in the fall of 1847 brought the Mexican war to a close. Gen. Zachary Taylor's defeat of Santa Anna gave him possession of the northern provinces, after which the City of Mexico capitulated to General Scott. On February 2, 1848, a treaty of peace was signed under which the United States acquired a vast area of territory, acquiring California, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.' Mexico, in return, was to receive $15,000,000 from the United States.
It was while the Mexican war was in progress that the famous Wilmot Proviso was introduced in Congress by its author, precipitating a debate whose thunders rocked the continent and threatened to rend the Union in twain. On August 8, 1846, pending the consideration in Congress of a bill placing $2,000,000 at the disposal of President Polk to negotiate a peace with Mexico, David Wilmot, a representative from Pennsylvania, offered the following amendment: “Provided, that
, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of the territory acquired from Mexico, except for crime, whereof the party shall be duly convicted." This was the famous Wilmot Proviso whose discussion fired the country from ocean to ocean. It was adopted in the House by a vote of 94 to 78, and was under debate in the Senate when the hour previously fixed for adjournment of the session arrived. At the next session, Mr. Wilmot again introduced it; and again the House remained firm in favor of the amendment, passing it once more by a decided majority; but no action was taken by the Senate. Eventu