James Westcott, Jr.

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James Westcott, Jr. 1839-1887.

James Diament Westcott, Jr. (June 18, 1839 – April 29, 1887)[1][2] was a Florida Supreme Court Justice, Florida Attorney General, and a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

Westcott was born in Tallahassee, Florida to James Westcott and Rebecca Sibley Bacon.[3] His father was active in politics, helped write the first Florida Constitution and was one of Florida's first U.S. Senators while James Jr. was a child. James Jr. attended school in Tallahassee, mostly at West Florida Seminary.[1] Although James Jr. was the third James D. Westcott, he used the "Jr." suffix throughout his life.[1]

In 1858, Westcott became assistant secretary of the Florida Senate.[1] The following year, he became a private secretary of Florida Governor Madison S. Perry.[1] During the Civil War, Westcott was clerk of the Confederate States District Court for Florida. After the war, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1866 and was appointed state Attorney General in July 1868 by Governor Harrison Reed. Soon after, in 1868, an opening arose on the Florida Supreme Court and Governor Reed appointed Westcott making him the youngest justice in the court's history.[1]

It was important for Reed to appoint a Democrat of Westcott's stature to offset the reputation other members of the Court had as carpetbagger Republicans. Westcott's friendly disposition on the one hand and thoroughness in researching the law and precedent on the other made in invaluable to the Court, and earned him respect from members of both parties. He wrote more decisions than any other Justice up to that time except for Chief Justice Randall.[1]

Westcott ran for the United States Senate in 1872 as a Democrat but lost to Republican Simon B. Conover.[1] He continued on the state supreme court until illness forced his resignation in 1885. He died from the illness two years later while only 47 years old.[1]

Westcott's will left much of his estate as a trust donation of $2,000 per year to the struggling West Florida Seminary.[1] The college survived to become Florida State University and, in December 1936, renamed the Administration Building to the James D. Westcott, Jr. Memorial Building.[3]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Manley, Walter W. (February 1998). The Supreme Court of Florida and Its Predecessor Courts, 1821-1917. University Press of Florida. pp. 224–227. ISBN 0-8130-1540-5. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The James D. Westcott Legacy Society
  3. 3.0 3.1 Full Court Press PDF (395 KiB) Volume 8, number 1, January–February 2001, p. 11. Note that Cape May County, NJ, Records - Marriages from Liber B of Marriages, Archives of New Jersey, gives Westcott's mother's name as Rebecca Bacon Sibley instead of Rebecca Sibley Bacon. [Rebecca Bacon Sibley was the daughter of John Sibley and Sarah Brooks and was born 12 Jul 1802 in New Jersey]