|Creator:||Lamar, Gazaway Bugg, 1798-1874|
|Title:||Gazaway Bugg Lamar papers|
|Quantity:||4.8 Linear feet (10 boxes)|
|Abstract:||The collection consists of the personal and business papers of Gazaway Bugg Lamar from 1822-1910. The early records deal with Lamar's business dealings and include stock certificates, bills of sale for slaves, promissory notes, receipts, and correspondence. The bulk of the collection contains correspondence and documents relating to the case of Gazaway Bugg Lamar vs the United States of America concerning the Federal government's seizure of Lamar's assets after the Civil War.|
Gazaway Bugg Lamar was born in Augusta in 1798 and lived there into early adulthood, working in shipping and cotton factoring. He and his family moved to Savannah in the early 1830s where he established himself in factoring, shipping, insurance, and warehousing. In 1838, on a voyage from Savannah to Baltimore, he lost his wife, three daughters, two sons, and a niece in the Pulaski disaster. A year later he married Harriet Cazenove of Virginia and they, along with Charles, Gazaway’s one surviving child from the Pulaski, moved to Alexandria. By 1840 the Lamars returned to Savannah and Gazaway reestablished himself as a business, political, and social presence. In early 1846 he again relocated his family, which would eventually grow to six children, to Brooklyn, New York, leaving Charles in charge of his Savannah business interests. In New York, Lamar helped establish and became the president of the Bank of the Republic, and became involved in insurance. In May 1861, after the outbreak of hostilities between the North and South, he moved back to Savannah, regained control of his business empire, and took it upon himself to advise representatives of the Confederate and Georgia governments, including President Jefferson Davis, Secretary of State Judah Benjamin, Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger, and Governor Joseph E. Brown. He traded extensively in guano, cotton, and tobacco, and formed a blockade running company in 1863. Soon after Sherman’s forces marched into Savannah in late December 1864, Lamar, at age sixty-six, took the oath of allegiance to the Union, hoping to protect his assets from confiscation.
But things did not go well for Lamar after the war. He was arrested and thrown in the Old Capital Prison in Washington as a suspect in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After his release three months later, he tried to claim his cotton, which was stored at warehouses in Georgia and Florida, but was arrested for stealing government property and trying to bribe a government official. A military commission convicted him and he returned to prison for a short time. President Johnson finally commuted his sentence a few days before his term expired. Lamar spent the last years of his life relentlessly pursuing financial compensation for his confiscated cotton, suing anyone involved with taking it, including the federal government, the former secretary of the treasury, and a treasury agent. Six months before his death in 1874, Lamar won the largest judgment ever against the federal government for confiscated property - $580,000. Still dissatisfied, he sought additional redress in the courts for the cotton for which he wasn’t compensated. He fought on even after his death, decreeing in his will that his heirs continue the legal process. Settling his estate resulted in more lawsuits with relatives and acquaintances.
Lamar was a prolific letter writer and record keeper and left behind considerable documentation of his life and activities. Also, the many court cases, before and after his death, are described in government published pamphlets.
The early records such as stock certificates, bills of sale for slaves, promissory notes, receipts for merchandise, and letters document Lamar's business dealings. The bulk of the later correspondence documents Lamar's attempt to recoup his losses during the war. With dogged determination he launched an eight-year legal battle which resulted in the U.S. Court of Claims granting its largest settlement ($580,000) to date, but not the full amount Lamar had claimed. Lamar died soon after, but instructed his heirs to continue the fight, which they did until 1919, when they were awarded an additional $75,000. The nature of the correspondence relating to Lamar's legal problems created an enormous collection of documents involving many layers of government bureaucracy, the exhaustive scope of which should prove invaluable to anyone wishing to understand Gazaway Bugg Lamar.
Cataloged as part of the Georgia Archives and Manuscripts Automated Access Project: A Special Collections Gateway Program of the University Center in Georgia.
Gazaway Bugg Lamar papers, ms 10. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.
Related collections in this repository: Howell Cobb family papers, ms 1376 and Telamon Cuyler Collection, Series 1. Historical Manuscripts, ms 1170.
Related collections in other repositories: Records of Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department, RG 366, NARA and Gazaway Bugg Lamar correspondence, MSS2616, Library of Congress.