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          George Lamb Buist,lawyer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, September 4, 1838. He was of Scotch descent. His earliest ancestor in America was the Reverend George Buist, D. D., who was born in Fifeshire, in Scotland, in 1770. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, he came to Charleston in 1793 upon the call of the Scotch Presbyterian church of Charleston, and became the minister of that church. Reverend Doctor Buist was an eminent divine, author of two volumes of sermons, and was for some time head of the College of Charleston.

          George Buist was the father of George Lamb Buist. His mother’s name was Mary Edwards (Jones) Buist. George Buist was an attorney of law by profession, and held for many years the office of judge of probate for Charleston county, until his death. His marked characteristics were his sterling integrity, a fund of rational common sense, and a wise and honest heart.

          The early life of young George was passed in the city of Charleston. He was fond of athletic exercise and as a boy was devoted to outdoor sports. His special taste and interest lay in reading and public speaking. The influence of his mother was particularly strong to his intellectual, moral and spiritual life. He had no difficulties in acquiring an education. His chief line of study was in Classics and rhetoric. Part of his studies were pursued at the New Jersey Academy at Burlington, New Jersey. From there he went to the Charleston College. He studied law of his own accord, in his father’s office and was admitted to the bar in January of 1860. He felt early the necessity for providing for obligations which he had assumed, and applied himself earnestly to the practice of his profession. Soon building up a large lucrative business. He married early in life to Miss Martha Allston White. They had ten children.

          Mr. Buist always attributed his success in life to the effects of his early life at home. He was a man of mark in his native state and city. When the Civil War broke out, he went into the Confederate States Army as a lieutenant of the Palmetto Guards and served in the Iron Battery on Morris Island, in the command of the eight-inch gun; afterwards he became Captain of the Palmetto Guards Artillery. Eventually, he rose to the rank of Major of Artillery, and served in that capacity until the surrender of General Johnston’s Army.

          After the war, he returned to practice his chosen profession, having been elected to the South Carolina legislature, he served for three years in the house of representatives. For sixteen years, he was a senator for Charleston county. During his service in the house, he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. After he became a Senator he served as the chairman of the Finance Committee of the senate.

          In an article from the “News and Courier” the following tribute was paid to Mr. Buist for one of the greatest services ever performed by him for the community in which he lived:

“A INFLUENCE THAT LIVES.” “A community such as Charleston should at all times be represented in the state legislature by her best and ablest men. Whether they are in the minority or the majority, their influence cannot be destroyed, and the work that representatives and senators of this county performed years ago is still bearing fruit. This is strikingly illustrated by the following, taken from a Columbia ‘State’ editorial of May 25, replying to a correspondent who defended the dispensary:

“’Does he know that for years a dispensary opponent had on more chance of fair treatment in either the executive or legislative branches of the government that a Republican? Does he remember the metropolitan police in Charleston? Does he remember that magnificent appeal of South Carolinians made in the senate by George Lamb Cuist in a vain endeavor to arouse some members of the majority to a realization of the enormity of the offense being perpetrated against the people of Charleston in depriving them of local self-government? Like an old lion, surrounded by enemies, Major Buist made the greatest speech those halls had heard for more than twenty years, and probably the greatest they will hear for another twenty years. And with what results? The same treatment that would be accorded a wounded lion bravely facing a band of Zulus armed with assegias!”

“The ‘metropolitan police’ has long since ceased to be other than as unpleasant memory, and not only has the eloquent remonstrance of ex-Senator Buist been fully vindicated, but it remains in the memories of men to be used as an argument in the fight to free the state of the miserable whiskey system which made the metropolitan police possible. We risk nothing in saying that throughout South Carolina the ability and courage which Charlestonians displayed in legislation, when they were opposed by an overwhelming and envenomed majority, is recalled with respect and pride by these same opposers whose ears have later been opened to words of truth and soberness.”

Other important public services were rendered by Mr. Buist, especially along educational lines. He was a trustee of the College of Charleston, and was for many years a commissioner of the public school system. Mr. Buist was an enthusiastic Mason, and held the office of master of Franklin lodge. He was always identified with the Democratic party, and never changed his political or allegiance on any issue. He was a member of the Episcopal Church, and for many years chairman of the vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Radcliffeboro, in Charleston.

Mr. Buist’s philosophy in life consisted in a grateful and contented nature. He believed that to have the approbation of a good conscience and the esteem of all good people was better than all the riches or worldly eminence.

Mr. George Lamb Buist died Thursday, May 30, of 1907.


Men Of Mark in South Carolina, Volume I


James Calvin Hemphill



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