Augustus H. Garland, Confederate States Senator, Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Attorney General

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Augustus Hill Garland

Birthplace: Covington, Tipton, TN, United States
Death: January 26, 1899 (66)
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rufus King Garland, Sr. and Barbara Garland
Husband of Sarah Virginia Garland
Brother of Rufus King Garland, Jr. and Elizabeth John Cook

Managed by: Private User
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About Augustus H. Garland, Confederate States Senator, Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Attorney General

Augustus Hill Garland (June 11, 1832 – January 26, 1899) was an Arkansas lawyer and politician. He was a senator in both the United States and the Confederate States, served as 11th Governor of Arkansas and as Attorney General of the United States in the first administration of Grover Cleveland.

Early life and law career

Garland was born in Covington, Tennessee, on June 11, 1832, to Rufus and Barbara Hill Garland. Along with his parents, his older brother, Rufus, and older sister, Elizabeth, the family moved to Lost Prairie in Arkansas in 1833 where his father owned a store. His father died when Garland was still a baby and his mother then wed Thomas Hubbard in 1836. Hubbard relocated the family to Washington, Arkansas, near the Hempstead County seat of Hope. Garland attended Spring Hill Male Academy from 1838 to 1843 before moving on to St. Mary's College in Lebanon, Kentucky, and later graduating from St. Joseph's College in Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1849.

Garland briefly taught school at Brounstown School in the Mine Creek Community in Sevier County before returning to Washington to study law with Hempstead County clerk Simon Sanders, later being admitted to the bar and starting a law practice with his stepfather in 1853. He married Sarah Virginia Sanders on June 14, 1853, with whom he would have nine children, four of whom survived to adulthood. They moved to Little Rock in June 1856 where Garland became a law partner to Ebenezer Cummins, a former legal associate of Albert Pike's. Garland became one of Arkansas's most prominent attorneys and was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1860.

Entrance into politics

Garland was a supporter of the Whig and American "Know Nothing" parties during the 1850s and was a presidential elector in the Arkansas Electoral College for the Constitutional Union Party in the election of 1860, voting for the party's nominees of John Bell and Edward Everett.

Civil War

With the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States, more and more southern states were pressured to secede from the Union. Garland opposed secession and consistently advocated Arkansas's continued allegiance to the United States. In 1861, he was elected to represent Pulaski County at the secession convention in Little Rock where he voiced his opposition to secede, but after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops in response to the Battle of Fort Sumter, Garland reluctantly supported secession.

Confederate Congress

Garland served in the Provisional Confederate Congress and was later elected to the Confederate House of Representatives in the First Confederate Congress in 1861 where he was a member of the Committees on Public Lands, Commerce and Financial Independence, and the Judiciary. He was reelected in 1863 and in 1864 was appointed to the Confederate States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles B. Mitchel. In Congress, he made efforts to establish a Supreme Court of the Confederate States and supported the administration of President Jefferson Davis aside his opposition to the laws suspending the writ of habeas corpus. He returned to Arkansas in February 1865 to help facilitate the return of the state to the Union.

Ex parte Garland

At the end of the Civil War, Garland was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson on July 15, 1865. Despite this pardon, he was prohibited from practicing law due to a provision passed by the United States Congress on January 24, 1865, stripping the law licenses of all lawyers who worked with the Confederate government or military. Garland became the petitioner in the case of Ex parte Garland in which he made the argument that it was unconstitutional and a violation of ex post facto. On January 14, 1867, by a vote of five to four, the Court agreed. The ruling caused considerable uproar in the north, but gave hope that the judicial system could be used to prevent the implementation of the Reconstruction Act that had recently been passed by Congress. He then pushed the Supreme Court to hear the case of Mississippi v. Johnson which challenged the constitutionality of those acts, however the Court refused.

Post-war political career

Garland was elected to the United States Senate for a term beginning in 1867, but was not allowed to take the seat as Arkansas had not yet been readmitted to the Union. He continued practicing law and observing the political scene from a distance. In 1872, with the Republican Party split into three factions, Arkansas Democrats sought Garland to help elect Democrats into the state legislature and had been considered for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. During the conflict known as the Brooks-Baxter War, he sided with Governor Elisha Baxter and was a primary strategist for him. He was an advisor and constitutional scholar at the next state constitutional convention and, with strong support from the Democratic Party, was elected Governor of Arkansas.

Governor of Arkansas

Garland was faced with a number of problems after taking office as Governor including turmoil in the state over threatening groups like the Ku Klux Klan, an ongoing congressional investigation over the Brooks-Baxter conflict and the state debt of $17,000,000. With help from the finance board, the debt was significantly lowered in two years time. Garland was a strong supporter of better education. He urged the legislature to establish schools for the blind and deaf, successfully advocated in appointing a new president for the Arkansas Industrial University, today the University of Arkansas, and helped found the Branch Normal College, today the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, which made education more accessible for African-Americans. Under his administration, he also oversaw the creation of the Arkansas Bureau of Statistics and the Arkansas Bureau of Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing.

United States Senate

Garland ran successfully for the United States Senate in 1876 and was reelected in 1883. In the Senate, he served as a member of the Committees on Public Lands, the Territories and the Judiciary, serving as chairman of the Territories Committee in the 46th Congress. As a Senator, he made efforts to bring about tariff reform, internal improvements, as well as the regulation of interstate commerce and a federal prison system, federal aid to education and civil service reform.

Attorney General

Garland resigned from the Senate in 1885 after accepting the appointment of Attorney General of the United States by newly elected President Grover Cleveland, becoming the first Arkansan to receive a cabinet post. Not long after taking office, he became embroiled in a political scandal. While serving in the Senate, Garland became a shareholder in and attorney for the Pan-Electric Telephone Company which was organized to form regional telephone companies using equipment developed by J. Harris Rogers. The Bell Telephone Company brought suit against Pan-Electric for patent infringement after it was discovered that their equipment was similar to that of Bell's. Garland was ordered to bring a suit in the name of the United States to invalidate the Bell patent, breaking their monopoly of telephone technology, but refused to do so. However, while Garland was on vacation in the summer, Solicitor General John Goode authorized the suit. A year long congressional investigation and constant public attention effected his work as Attorney General, however, despite having to serve under a cloud of suspicion, he was supported by President Cleveland. Garland was also the first, and to date only, United States cabinet secretary to be censured by Congress when, in 1886, Garland failed to provide documents about the firing of a United States Attorney.

Later life and death

President Cleveland lost reelection to Benjamin Harrison in the 1888 election and Garland left office at the end of Cleveland's term in 1889. He resumed practicing law in Washington, D.C. and published a number of books, including The Constitution As It Is (1880), Experience in the Supreme Court of the United States, with Some Reflections and Suggestions as to that Tribunal (1883), Third-Term Presidential (1896), Experience in the Supreme Court of the United States (1898) and Treatise on the Constitution and Jurisdiction of the United States Courts (1898). On January 26, 1899, while arguing a case before the Supreme Court, Garland suffered a stroke and died a few hours later in the Capitol. He was interned Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.


Garland County, Arkansas, Garland, Arkansas, and Garland, Texas, were named in his honor.
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Augustus H. Garland, Confederate States Senator, Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Attorney General's Timeline

June 11, 1832
Covington, Tipton, TN, United States
January 26, 1899
Age 66
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States