Wayne, James M.

Born: 1790-XX-XX Savannah, Georgia

Died: 1867-07-05 Washington, D.C.

James M. Wayne was a state legislator, city mayor, judge, U.S. representative, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Wayne studied at home in his native Savannah until the age of fourteen, when he matriculated to the College of New Jersey (Princeton), graduating in 1808. Wayne returned to Savannah, where he read law. He later moved to New Haven, Connecticut to read law under Charles Chauncey. In 1811, he returned to Georgia, earned admission to the bar, and commenced practicing law. During the War of 1812, Wayne served as a captain in a company of George Hussars, but saw no action. In 1813, he married Mary Campbell, with whom he would have three children. Returning from the war, Wayne resumed his law practice and entered politics. He served in the George House of Representatives from 1815 to 1816, and as mayor of Savannah from 1817 to 1819. After his term as mayor, Wayne became judge of the Court of Common Pleas and Oyer and Terminer of Savannah, serving in this capacity from 1820 to 1822. In 1822, he became judge of the Georgia Superior Court. In 1828, Wayne won election, as a Jacksonian Democrat, to the U.S. House of Representatives. He won reelection in 1832 and 1834, serving in the U.S. House from March 1829 to January 1835. Wayne was among the strongest supporters of President Andrew Jackson in Congress, supporting Jackson's policies on Indian Removal, internal improvements, the Second Bank of the United States, and the Nullification Crisis. On January 7, 1835, President Jackson rewarded Wayne by nominating him to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate confirmed Wayne two days later, and on January 13, Wayne resigned from the U.S. House to take a seat on the court, where he remained until his death. Wayne wrote 180 opinions during his thirty-two years on the Supreme Court, including twenty-three concurrences and four dissents. Nationalism was the dominant theme in Wayne's time on the court. He supported federal power over commerce and felt that the federal government should take the lead in protecting slavery and in advancing the nascent industrial economy. Although a southerner and owner of enslaved persons, Wayne resisted states' rights arguments in support of the peculiar institution. When Georgia seceded in 1861, Wayne retained his seat on the Supreme Court, remaining loyal to the Union. In the Prize Cases (1863), he supported President Abraham Lincoln's blockade of southern ports. Wayne wrote the majority opinion in Ex Parte Vallandigham (1864), when the court refused to interfere--citing a lack of jurisdiction--with a military tribunal that had arrested, tried, and convicted Clement L. Vallandigham for public expressions of support for the Confederacy.

Paul Finkelman, "Wayne, James Moore," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 22:828-29; Raymond T. Diamond, "Wayne, James Moore," The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. by Kermit L. Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 920; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 2024; Alexander A. Lawrence, James Moore Wayne: Southern Unionist (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943); Gravestone, Laurel Grove Cemetery North, Savannah, GA.