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George Fleming Moore (1822-1883)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1862-1867
Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1874-1878
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1878-1881

George Fleming Moore, the seventh son of well-to-do planters, was born in Elbert County, Georgia on July 17, 1822. He grew up in Alabama where, as a child he was acquainted with Oran M. Roberts. Moore attended the University of Alabama and the University of Virginia, but did not graduate from either institution. In 1842 he undertook the study of law in Talladega, Alabama, and was licensed to practice in 1844.

In 1846 Moore moved to Crockett, Texas, where he practiced law for several years before returning to Alabama to marry. He returned to Texas in 1854, spending two years in Austin before moving to Nacogdoches in 1856, where he began a law practice with Richard S. Walker. Moore and Walker were appointed State Reporters in 1858, and prepared the twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth Texas Reports (1860-61).

Moore served briefly as a colonel in the Texas cavalry during the Civil War before being elected an associate justice of the supreme court in 1862. In 1866 he was again elected to the court but was removed in 1867 when Texas was placed under federal military authority. He returned to practicing law, this time in Austin, and was licensed to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1870, where he argued two successful cases (Hanrick v. Barton and Cordova v. Hood et al.). In January 1874 he was reappointed associate justice by Gov. Coke. The Constitution of 1876 made court positions elective by popular vote, and he was then elected to the position. When Oran M. Roberts was elected governor of Texas in 1878, Moore was appointed fill his vacancy as chief justice. Moore was then elected to the position by an overwhelming majority.

Moore was described as a studious, careful, and dignified judge who blended the attributes of sternness and generosity. He possessed strong analytical ability, and presented clear, concise, and logical arguments. He was an expert in Texas land laws, and during the years he practiced law, he handled a number of land cases.

In November 1881, his health and eyesight failing, Moore resigned from the court. He died in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 1883, and his body was returned to Austin for burial.

Notable opinions

State v. Sparks, 27 Texas reports 633 (in which he "maintained vigorously and successfully the sacred right of habeas corpus", Lynch 100).

Keuchler v. Wright, 40 Texas reports (regarding courts issuing writ of mandamus to heads of the executive dept. of State government to compel proper performance of duty).

Farrar v. The State, 42 Texas reports (he presented a definition of express malice and made a distinction regarding what constituted first and second degree murder that were apparently considered very good).

Ex parte Coupland, 26 Texas reports 386 (Tex. 1862) (Affirmed remand of deserter soldier into custody of colonel upon writ of Habeas corpus. Rejected constitutional challenge to Conscription Law for the Confederate army, holding law valid as necessary and proper means for executing grant of power to make war that power to raise militia cannot adequately fulfill).

Constitutional provisions mentioned - Art. I, ยง 8, cl. 15, 16, 18

San Antonio v. Jones, 28 Texas reports 19 (Tex. 1866) (affirming judgment for railroad plaintiff that act to incorporate company did not confer legislative power on citizens and that extension of completion time for road did not affect essential condition of charter such that railroad forfeited subscription of stock rights).

Barnett v. Logue, 29 Texas reports 289 (Tex. 1867) (Reversing judgment for defendant on grounds that jury instruction directed verdict for defendants on determination of immaterial issue regarding ownership of notes by party other than plaintiff).


In Memoriam, 60 Texas reports vii-xi (1883).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 97-103 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Moore, George F., Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Aldrich, Armistead Albert. The History of Houston County, Texas,... 178 (San Antonio, Texas: The Naylor Co., 1943).

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas 237 (New York, New York: Southern Publishing Co., 1880).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 69 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 13, 97, 533 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Thrall, Homer S. The People's Illustrated Almanac 170 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson, 1880).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 23, page 308
Volume 48, page 449, 458, 467
Volume 51, page 163, 250
Volume 60, page 17, 22
Volume 62, page 143, 153, 157n
Volume 63, page 65
Volume 68, page 468

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin 21:38. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).

In Memoriam, 60 Texas reports vii (1883).

Hogarty Collection. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).