James Cameron MacRae

Associate Justice - NC Supreme Court

Date Born: October 6, 1838

Date Died: October 17, 1909

Place Born: Fayetteville, NC

Place Buried: Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, NC


Associate Justice 1892-1895

James Cameron MacRae was born on October 6, 1838 in Fayetteville, NC, the son of John MacRae and Mary Anne (Shackleford) MacRae. He received his basic education at the Donaldson Academy in Fayetteville, where he graduated in 1854. He planned to attend the University of North Carolina, but when financial problems prevented this, he secured a position teaching school in Cumberland and Brunswick counties and in Horry County, SC. While teaching, he taught himself law, and by 1859 he was proficient enough to receive his license to practice in County Court, and a year later in the NC Superior Court.

In 1859, James Cameron MacRae entered a practice with C.W. Broadfoot in Fayetteville, NC.

On April 17, 1861, James Cameron MacRae enlisted as a Private in Company H of the 1st NC Regiment, also known as the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, a military unit that had been in continuous existence since 1793. In May of 1861 the company moved to Raleigh and from there into southern Virginia, where on June 10th, it encountered Union troops at the battle of Big Bethel.

In August of 1861, James Cameron MacRae was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and transferred to Company D in the 5th NC Regiment, as part of the defense of Yorktown, VA. This company also saw action at the battle of Williamsburg, VA.

By May, 30, 1862, James Cameron MacRae was promoted again and ordered to report to the Conscript Bureau in North Carolina. In September of 1863, he was assigned under Colonel Peter Mallett as a Major of a battalion in the North Carolina cavalry. This unit, later known as MacRae's Battalion, was assigned to secure Morganton and Asheville. Its chief purpose was to search out and arrest conscripts and deserters in the western part of North Carolina. When the battalion was disbanded in June of 1864, Major MacRae was ordered back east as the Assistant Adjutant under Brigadier General Laurence S. Baker.

In this capacity, on April 20, 1865, Major MacRae issued General Order No. 25, which disbanded Brig. Gen. Baker's troops in compliance with the terms agreed to by Union General William T. Sherman. MacRae then left the military, returned to Fayetteville, and to his law practice.

On October 31, 1867, James Cameron MacRae married Frances Broadfoot Hinsdale, daughter of Samuel Johnston Hinsdale and Elizabeth C. Hinsdale; they had nine children.

In 1874, James Cameron MacRae was elected as one of two men to represent Cumberland County in the NC House of Representatives of the:
- 81st General Assembly that met from 1874 to 1875

In April of 1881, James Cameron MacRae presided over the Temperance Convention in Raleigh.

On July 8, 1882, Governor Thomas Jordan Jarvis appointed James Cameron MacRae as a Judge on the NC Superior Court, replacing Judge Risden Bennett. In November of 1882, he was elected to a full term, and he served on the NC Superior Court until 1890.

In 1883, the University of North Carolina awarded James Cameron MacRae an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Prior to the 1890 General Election, the 4th and 7th Judicial Districts were combined so that Judge James Cameron MacRae was pitted against Judge James McIver of Moore County in the contest for NC Superior Court Judge in that district. On July 16, 1890, at the Democratic nominating convention in Laurinburg, MacRae was defeated by a vote of 163 to 157.

On August 24, 1892, Governor Thomas Michael Holt appointed James Cameron MacRae as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Joseph Jonathan Davis, who had died on August 7, 1892. In November of 1892, he was elected to complete the term, serving until 1895, when he was defeated by David Moffatt Furches in the General Election of 1894.

James Cameron MacRae remained in Raleigh, NC and relaunched his own private law practice there. One of his clients was the Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL).

In 1899, James Cameron MacRae moved his family to Chapel Hill after he was appointed Professor and Dean of the University of North Carolina Law School. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, James Cameron MacRae, at the request of the North Carolina Bar Association, established and edited the North Carolina Law Journal. It was published monthly until 1905, when it was discontinued because a publisher could not be found.

On October 17, 1909, James Cameron MacRae died in Chapel Hill, and he was later buried in the Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, NC.

James C. MacRae (aka McRae) was born in Fayetteville, NC in October of 1838, and was licensed to practice law in 1859.

He saw service in the Confederate Army 1861-1865, reaching the rank of Major.

He was elected to the Legislature in 1874.

He became Judge of NC Superior Court in July of 1882, and at the expiration of his term in 1890 he returned to the bar.

Upon the death of Justice Joseph J. Davis, he was appointed by Governor Thomas M. Holt in August of 1892 to succeed him, and he was elected for the unexpired term. At the next election in 1894, he was defeated for re-election by the Republican, Walter A. Montgomery, and he returned to private practice.

In 1899, he accepted the position of professor of law at the University of North Carolina, where he died in October of 1909.

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