James Lawrence Pugh (1820-1907)
James Lawrence Pugh, senator, was born in Burke county, Georgia, on December 12, 1820. In early years he removed with his family to Alabama (1824), where he received his education at the La Grange Academy, of which Otis Smith was the principal. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1841. He began to practise in Eufaula, Alabama, and was said to have no equal in the State before a jury. He also engaged in agricultural pursuits.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1849, when Henry W. Hilliard defeated him by a small vote, and left the Whig party in 1850, after which he became a thorough-going secessionist. He was a presidential elector in 1848 and 1856, and was then elected to the 36th Congress as a Democrat from the second Congressional District of Alabama, serving from March 4, 1859, to January 21, 1861, when he withdrew on the secession of his state. In Congress Since he took no part in the transaction of business, having expressed his "solemn conviction that no amount of effort, however well directed and praiseworthy, can ever rescue the Constitution from the perils which surround it, or restore the government to its original purity, or perpetuate it in that form." The Territorial action of Judge Douglas, in his opinion, was such that the Southern Democracy could not indorse it without stultifying themselves; and he urged, in January, 1860, a speedy termination of the Union in case the Republicans carried the Presidential election, saying: "The truest conservatism and wisest statesmanship demand a speedy termination of all association with such confederates, and the formation of another union of States, homogeneous in population, institutions, interests, and pursuits. Such a confederacy would be imperishable, and present to the world a contented, happy, prosperous, powerful people, in the enjoyment of the highest perfection of civilization and free government."
He was a delegate from Alabama to the house of representatives in the 1st and 2d Confederate congresses, serving from February 22, 1862, until the surrender in 1865. He also served as a private in the the Eufaula Rifles, First Alabama Regiment, of the Confederate army.
After the war Pugh returned to the practice of law. He was president of the Democratic state convention of 1874 and a member of the convention that framed the State constitution in 1875. He was a presidential elector again in 1876.
He was elected a United States senator from Alabama to fill the vacancy in the term ending March 2, 1885, caused by the death of George S. Houston, and reelected in 1884 and 1890, serving from November 24, 1880, to March 3, 1897. He was not a candidate for reelection. In the Senate he was chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (53rd Congress) and served on the Committee on Revolutionary Claims (54th Congress).
He retired from active business and resided in Washington, D.C., until his death there on March 9, 1907. He is buried in the Fairview Cemetery, Eufaula, Barbour County, Ala.