About James Zachariah George
James Zachariah George (October 20, 1826 – August 14, 1897) was an American military officer, lawyer, writer, and politician. He was known as Mississippi's "Great Commoner."
James Z. George was born in Monroe County, Georgia, but moved to Mississippi when his widowed mother remarried. He served as a private in the Mexican-American War under Colonel Jefferson Davis. On his return, George studied law and was admitted to the bar. In 1854 he became a reporter of the Supreme Court of Mississippi and, over the next 20 years, George prepared a 10-volume digest of its cases.
As a member of the Mississippi Secession Convention, George signed the Ordinance of Secession. A Confederate colonel of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry during the Civil War, he was captured twice and spent two years in a prisoner of war camp, where he conducted a law course for his fellow captives.
After the war, he returned to Mississippi and resumed the practice of law. In 1879 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Mississippi and immediately was chosen chief justice by his colleagues.
From 1881 until his death, George represented Mississippi in the United States Senate, where he was recognized for his skills in debate, helped frame the future Sherman Anti-Trust Act, introduced the bill for agricultural college experiment stations, and encouraged the establishment of the Department of Agriculture. He also served as a member of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890 and successfully defended the constitution before the Senate and the Supreme Court.
George died in Mississippi City, Mississippi, where he had gone for health treatment. He is buried, along with his wife, Elizabeth Brooks (Young) George, in Evergreen Cemetery in North Carrollton, Mississippi. George's wife Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Col. William Martin Jr. of Tennessee, and the great-granddaughter of General Joseph Martin, an early Virginia explorer and Revolutionary War commander.
In 1931, the state of Mississippi donated a bronze statue of George to the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.
The J. Z. George High School in North Carrollton, Mississippi is named in his honor, which is less than two miles from his burial place. In addition, George County, Mississippi, is also named in his honor.