August 20, 2012
LUCIUS QUINTUS CINCINNATUS LAMAR I
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Senator John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Profiles In Courage.”
JFK’s book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
“Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs.”
The title of Chapter VII is Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar.*
*Lucius Lamar (1825-1893) was born in Eatonton, Georgia. He graduated from Emory College & became a professor at the University of Mississippi. He started a law practice in Oxford & established a cotton plantation near Abbeville.
Lamar served in the House of Representatives but resigned in 1860. He had a brief service in the Confederate army & returned to the House after the war as the 1st Democrat from Mississippi to serve there since the Civil War.
Lamar later served in the Senate & was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Grover Cleveland.
JFK writes about one of the lesser known United States senators who had been one of the “most rapid ‘fire-eaters’ ever to come out of the deep South.”
Senator Kennedy begins with a speech made by Senator Lucius Lamar of Mississippi on the floor of the Senate in 1874 on the occasion of the death of “the South’s most implacable enemy,” Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.
In a plea for “amity & justice between North & South,” Senator Lamar said that Charles Sumner, before his death….
“believed that all occasion for strife & distrust between the North & South had passed away.
Would that the spirit of the illustrious dead whom we lament today could speak from the grave to both parties to this deplorable discord in tones which should reach each & every heart throughout this broad territory:
‘My countrymen! know one another, & you will love one another.'”
JFK says that this speech was one of the few in our history to have “such immediate impact.”
He argues that the speech was a turning point in the relationship between North & South.
While many newspapers wrote editorials in support of the speech, others, particularly in the South were critical. They believed Senator Lamar “had surrendered Southern principle & honor.”