Justice Augustus Emmet Maxwell
Former Justice Augustus Maxwell was the 14th Justice on the Supreme Court and served from 1865-1866 and 1887-1890. He enjoyed a privileged childhood capped by his legal studies at the University of Virginia, where he was named chairman of the student body. He graduated in 1841. Maxwell married and moved to Alabama to start his law practice, then to Tallahassee, Florida, in 1845.
He was the first attorney admitted to practice before the Florida Supreme Court. He received appointments from Governor William Moseley to serve as State Attorney General and later Florida Secretary of State.
In 1849, voters elected him to the state senate. Three years later, he went to the U.S. Congress as Florida’s representative and served two terms. Maxwell retired from Congress to live in Pensacola where he became president of the Alabama and Florida Railroad Company. He supported Florida’s secession from the Union and was elected to the Confederate States Senate in Richmond, Virginia, in 1862.
He returned to the practice of law at the end of the Civil War, accepted an appointment to the Florida Supreme Court in 1866, but resigned to resume his presidency of the Alabama and Florida Railroad. He also kept active in Democratic Party politics, which led to his appointment by Governor George Drew to the first judicial circuit at Pensacola in 1877. In 1887 he moved to the Florida Supreme Court again, appointed Chief Justice by Governor Edward Perry. In 1888, he stood for election to the court and was victorious.
The next year, justices drew lots to determine their positions and length of their first terms on the court under the new constitution. George Raney replaced Maxwell as chief justice; Maxwell also drew the shortest term.
In 1890, he stepped down from the court and back into to a private law practice until he retired in 1896. He lived his last years with the family of his daughter’s husband in Chipley, Florida. Justice Maxwell holds the unique distinction of being the son-in-law of one justice (Walker Anderson, 1851 – 1853) and the father of another (E. C. Maxwell, 1902 – 1904).
Justice Augustus Maxwell served 1866, 1889 to 1890 as Justice and 1887 to 1889 as Chief Justice. He was born in Elberton, Georgia on September 21, 1820, and died on May 5, 1903 in Chipley, Florida.
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