Augustus Hill Garland served as attorney general of the United States from 1885 to 1889 under President GROVER CLEVELAND.
Garland was born June 11, 1832, in Tipton County, Tennessee. His parents, Rufus K. Garland and Barbara Hill Garland, settled in Hempstead County, Arkansas, when he was an infant. Garland was educated at local schools in Hempstead County, and at St. Joseph's College, in Bardstown, Kentucky. He graduated from St. Joseph's in 1851 and was admitted to the bar in 1853. Garland's first practice was established in Washington, Arkansas. He eventually moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he earned a reputation as one of the best lawyers in the South. He married Sarah Virginia Sanders in Little Rock. She died early in their marriage, and Garland's mother ran his household for most of his life.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Garland opposed the secession of Arkansas, but he eventually supported his state when the ordinance of secession was passed. He was elected to the Confederate provisional congress, in Montgomery, Alabama, and to the first and second Confederate congresses, in Richmond.
In an effort to unify the North and South after the war, President ANDREW JOHNSON granted a full pardon to Garland (and others) for wartime service to the Confederacy. The president's actions were not widely supported; Congress enacted a number of laws that continued to punish the pardoned Southerners for their wartime allegiances by restricting their ability to participate in their former businesses or professions. Two restrictions, enacted in 1865, required attorneys to swear a test (loyalty) oath affirming that they had not participated in the rebellion, as a condition for appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, the district and circuit courts, and the Court of Claims (13 Stat. 424). Attorneys who could not take the oath were denied the right to appear before the high courts?and thereby prevented from practicing law.
Garland challenged the law in 1867. He argued that the law was unconstitutional, and that even if the law were constitutional, he would be released from compliance with its provisions by his presidential pardon. The Supreme Court found the law to be unconstitutional because it violated the president's power to pardon. "When a pardon is full," the majority opinion said, "it releases the punishment, and blots out of existence the guilt" (Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. [4 Wall.] 333, 18 L. Ed. 366...