A Civil War Biography

James Zachariah George

George was born 20 October 1826 in Monroe County Georgia. He moved to Mississippi as a child when his widowed mother remarried. In 1846 he joined the Mississippi rifles and served under Jefferson Davis as a private during the war with Mexico. Following being discharged from the military for health reasons, George studied the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1847 and established a practice in Carrollton, Mississippi. In 1854 he was named reporter of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Over the next 20 years he prepared a 10 volume digest of the court's cases.

As a member of the state secession convention George signed the ordinance of secession taking Mississippi out of the Union. During the war George rose to the rank of colonel in the Confederate service, brigadier general of state troops. As a lieutenant colonel he commanded the 19th battalion of Mississippi cavalry. The 19th would form the base from which the 5th Mississippi cavalry regiment was formed in September 1863. George was promoted to colonel and placed in command of the 5th. At Colliersville on 3 November 1863 he was captured, for the second time during the war, while leading a charge on Union positions. He would spend the remainder of the war in prison where he conducted a law course for the other prisoners.

Following the war George returned to the practice of law. He was named to the state supreme court in 1879 and was immediately chosen chief justice by his colleagues. He was elected as a Democrat to the US Senate in 1880 then was reelected in 1886 and 1892. He served from 4 March 1881 until his death on 14 August 1897 in Mississippi City where he had gone for health treatment. He served as a member of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890. As a Senator he is most noted for helping to frame what would become the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and pushing for the establishment of the Department of Agriculture.

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