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Biography: James B. Wallace



(Lawrence County, Alabama)


Col. Edmond Saunders

written ca. 1890s

James B. Wallace was the second judge of the Lawrence County Court. He came from Middle Tennessee with his wife, and they were a great accession to the society of Moulton—which was already very good; for there were in the place ten lawyers, four or five physicians, a number of merchants, nearly all of whom were married men, and also many families residing in the town who owned plantations in the neighborhood.

Mrs. Wallace was a graceful, refined lady, and one of the best pianists of that age, Judge Wallace was a man of fine presence, about five feet ten inches high, and hazel eyes, auburn hair and Roman nose. He was a gentleman of elegant manners and sound principles. I think he was then better versed in the polite literature than in the law, though he was not deficient in legal attainments.

In the outset he was timid, nervous and backward in speaking in public. Because he was not as fluent as some of his competitors, he almost despaired of success as a public speaker. He was not then aware of the fact that a man who speaks good sense in a modest and becoming manner is always listened to patiently by his hearers, whether he has the trappings of an orator or not.

He did, however, realize this truth—learned by practice, to think while he was upon his feet, and gradually became a dignified, self-possessed and forcible speaker; but, at his best, he never commanded any opulence of language.

In the place of it, he had that which was of far more value to a public man, and that was a refined courtesy, a candor in his statement of facts, and a generosity in his bearing toward political opponents; which secured for him a high position in the great brotherhood of cultured‘ gentlemen far beyond that which his talents, respectable as they were, would have won for him.

When Judge Taylor was carried to Kentucky he became County Judge in his stead, and performed the duties of the office very satisfactorily.

In 1833, he commenced his political career, and was elected senator from Lawrence county, which position he retained until 1838; his personal popularity steadily increasing at home, while he became a distinguished leader of the Whig party of the State Rights school.

In 1838, he was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court in the place of Judge Henry Minor, deceased. This was one of the most lucrative offices in the State, and the judge removed his family to Tuscaloosa, and held the office ten years.

During this time he became well known to the people of Tuscaloosa County, and in 1851 became a member of the House of Representatives from that county. Having more experience and information, he occupied a still higher position than he had ever done before. In 1853 he was again a candidate, but, before the election, died suddenly of apoplexy.

Mrs. Wallace, who was always of a delicate constitution, died long before her husband. The judge raised six children to be grown, all of whom are dead, except one son, who is living at Caldwell, Texas. His oldest son, John, died in California; Edward, in Mississippi; James, in Richmond, Va.—Harriet, his oldest daughter, in Tuscaloosa—and his youngest child, and daughter, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas..

Excerpt from Early Settlers Of Alabama: With Notes And Genealogies (Volume 1)


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