Joseph Henry Lumpkin

One of Georgia’s leading attorneys, Joseph Henry Lumpkin (1799-1867), served as the first Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court and co-founder of the University of Georgia law school.

Joseph Henry Lumpkin was born on December 23, 1799, in Oglethorpe County. The son of a large and wealthy family he attended the University of Georgia, but ultimately graduated from Princeton University in 1819. He then studied law under Thomas W. Cobb and received his law license in 1820. Lumpkin soon gained some political prominence, winning election to the state General Assembly in 1824 and 1825. After his two terms in the legislature, he focused on building his legal practice. In 1833 he served on the committee that revised the Georgia Penal Code. In 1845 the Georgia legislature elected him to the newly established State Supreme Court. Lumpkin emerged as the Court’s presiding judge and the legislature eventually named him the state’s first Chief Justice. He held this position for the balance of his life. In 1859, he co-founded the University of Georgia law school with his son-in-law Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb and taught there until his death on June 4, 1867.

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