Alexander H. Stephens
Photograph by Julian Vannerson, 1859
|50th Governor of Georgia|
November 4, 1882 –March 4, 1883
|Preceded by||Alfred Colquitt|
|Succeeded by||James Boynton|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Georgia's 8th district
December 1, 1873 –November 4, 1882
|Preceded by||John Jones|
|Succeeded by||Seaborn Reese|
March 4, 1853 –March 3, 1859
|Preceded by||Robert Toombs|
|Succeeded by||John Jones|
|Vice President of the Confederate States|
February 22, 1862 –May 11, 1865
Provisional: February 11, 1861 – February 22, 1862
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Deputy from Georgia |
to the Provisional Congress
of the Confederate States
February 4, 1861 –February 17, 1862
|Preceded by||New constituency|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Georgia's 7th district
March 4, 1845 –March 3, 1853
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||David Reese|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Georgia's At-large district
October 2, 1843 –March 3, 1845
|Preceded by||Mark Cooper|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Member of the Georgia Senate|
|Member of the Georgia House of Representatives|
|Born||February 11, 1812|
Taliaferro County, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||March 4, 1883 71) (aged|
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Political party|| Whig (1836–51)|
Constitutional Union (1860–61)
|Alma mater||University of Georgia|
Alexander Hamilton Stephens(born February 11, 1812 – March 4, 1883) was an American politician who served as the only Vice President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and later as the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883. A member of the Democratic Party, Stephens represented the state of Georgia in the United States House of Representatives prior to becoming Governor.
The Vice President of the Confederate States of America was the office held by Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, who served under President Jefferson Davis of Mississippi from February 18, 1861, until the dissolution of the Confederacy on May 5, 1865. Having first been elected by the Provisional Confederate States Congress, both were considered provisional office-holders until they won the presidential election of November 6, 1861 without opposition and inaugurated on February 22, 1862.
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Georgia is the 24th largest and 8th-most populous of the 50 United States. Georgia is bordered to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, to the northeast by South Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Florida, and to the west by Alabama. The state's nicknames include the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, a "beta(+)" global city, is both the state's capital and largest city. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 5,949,951 in 2018, is the 9th most populous metropolitan area in the United States and contains about 60% of the entire state population.
Stephens attended Franklin College and established a legal practice in his home town of Crawfordville, Georgia. After serving in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly, he won election to Congress, taking his seat in 1843. He became a leading Southern Whig and strongly opposed the Mexican–American War. After the war, Stephens was a prominent supporter of the Compromise of 1850 and helped draft the Georgia Platform, which opposed secession. A proponent of the expansion of slavery into the territories, Stephens also helped pass the Kansas–Nebraska Act. As the Whig Party collapsed in the 1850s, Stephens eventually joined the Democratic Party and worked with President James Buchanan to admit Kansas as a state under the Lecompton Constitution.
The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences is the founding college of the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, United States. The college was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. Today, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences comprises 30 departments in five divisions: fine arts, social sciences, biological sciences, physical and mathematical sciences, and the humanities.
Crawfordville is a city in Taliaferro County, Georgia, United States. The population was 572 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Taliaferro County.
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is bicameral, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Stephens declined to seek re-election in 1858, but continued to publicly advocate against secession. After Georgia and other Southern states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, Stephens was elected as the Confederate Vice President. Stephens's Cornerstone Speech of March 1861 defended slavery, though after the war he distanced himself from his earlier sentiments. In the course of the war, he became increasingly critical of President Jefferson Davis's policies, especially conscription and the suspension of habeas corpus.In February 1865, he was one of the commissioners who met with Abraham Lincoln at the abortive Hampton Roads Conference to discuss peace terms.
The Cornerstone Speech, also known as the Cornerstone Address, was an oration given by Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens at the Athenaeum in Savannah, Georgia, on March 21, 1861, delivered extemporaneously a few weeks before the beginning of the American Civil War in the Battle of Fort Sumter. Stephens' speech defended slavery, explained the fundamental differences between the constitutions of the Confederacy and that of the United States, enumerated contrasts between U.S. and Confederate ideologies, and laid out the Confederacy's causes for attempting to secede from the U.S.
Jefferson Finis Davis was an American politician who served as the only President of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. As a member of the Democratic Party, he represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives prior to switching allegiance to the Confederacy. He was appointed as the United States Secretary of War, serving from 1853 to 1857, under President Franklin Pierce.
Habeas corpus is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.
After the war, Stephens was imprisoned until October 1865. The following year, the Georgia legislature elected Stephens to the United States Senate, but the Senate declined to seat him due to his role in the Civil War. He won election to the House of Representatives in 1873 and held that office until 1882, when he resigned from Congress to become Governor of Georgia. Stephens served as governor until his death in March 1883.
The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.
Stephens was born on February 11, 1812.His parents were Andrew Baskins Stephens and Margaret Grier. The Stephenses lived on a farm in Taliaferro County, Georgia. At the time of Alexander Stephens's birth, the farm was part of Wilkes County. Taliaferro County was created in 1825 from land in Greene, Hancock, Oglethorpe, Warren, and Wilkes counties. His father, a native of Pennsylvania, came to Georgia at 12 years of age, in 1795. According to the Biographical Sketch of Linton Stephens (Linton Stephens being Alexander Stephens's half-brother), Andrew B. Stephens was "endowed with uncommon intellectual faculties; he had sound practical judgment; he was a safe counselor, sagacious, self-reliant, candid and courageous."
Taliaferro County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,717, making it the least populous county in Georgia and the second-least populous county east of the Mississippi River. The county seat is Crawfordville.
His mother, a Georgia native and sister of Grier's Almanac founder Robert Grier,died in 1812 at the age of 26; Alexander Stephens was only three months old. In the introduction to Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens, there is this about his mother and her family: "Margaret came of folk who had a liking for books, and a turn for law, war, and meteorology." The introduction continues: "In her son's character was a marked blending of parental traits. He [Alexander Stephens] was thrifty, generous, progressive; one of the best lawyers in the land; a reader and collector of books; a close observer of the weather, and father of the Weather Bureau of the United States." In 1814, Andrew B. Stephens married Matilda Lindsay, daughter of Revolutionary War Colonel John Lindsay.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.
In May 1826, when Alexander Stephens was 14 years old, his father, Andrew, and stepmother, Matilda, died of pneumonia only days apart.Their deaths caused him and several siblings to be scattered among relatives. He grew up poor and in difficult circumstances. Not long after the deaths of his father and his stepmother, Alexander Stephens was sent to live with his mother's other brother, General Aaron W. Grier, near Raytown (Taliaferro County), Georgia. General Grier had inherited his own father's library, said to be "the largest library in all that part of the country." Alexander Stephens, who read voraciously even as a youth, mentions the library in his "Recollections."
Frail but precocious, the young Stephens acquired his continued education through the generosity of several benefactors. One of them was the Presbyterian minister Alexander Hamilton Webster, who presided over a school in Washington, Georgia. Out of respect for his mentor, Stephens adopted Webster's middle name, Hamilton, as his own. Stephens attended the Franklin College (later the University of Georgia) in Athens, where he was roommates with Crawford W. Long and a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society. He raised funds for Phi Kappa Hall, located on the university campus.Stephens graduated at the top of his class in 1832.
Stephens was sickly throughout his life, most painfully from "crippling rheumatoid arthritis and a pinched nerve in his back". 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m), he often weighed less than 100 pounds (45 kg).Though his adult height was
After several unhappy years teaching in school, Stephens began legal studies, was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1834, and began a successful career as a lawyer in Crawfordville. During his 32 years of practice, he gained a reputation as a capable defender of the wrongfully accused. None of his clients charged with capital crimes were executed.
As his wealth increased, Stephens began acquiring land and slaves. By the time of the Civil War, Stephens owned 34 slaves and several thousand acres. He entered politics in 1836, and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving there until 1841. In 1842, he was elected to the Georgia Senate.
Stephens served in the U.S. House from October 2, 1843, to March 3, 1859, from the 28th Congress through the 35th Congress. In 1843, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig, in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mark A. Cooper.This seat was at-large, as Georgia did not have House Districts until the next year. Stephens was re-elected from the 7th District as a Whig in 1844, 1846, and 1848, as a Unionist in 1851, and again as a Whig (from the 8th District) in 1853. In 1855 and 1857, his re-elections came as a Democrat.
As a national lawmaker during the crucial decades before the Civil War, Stephens was involved in all of the major sectional battles. He began as a moderate defender of slavery but later accepted the prevailing Southern rationale utilized to defend the institution.
Stephens quickly rose to prominence as one of the leading Southern Whigs in the House. He supported the annexation of Texas in 1845. Along with his fellow Whigs, he vehemently opposed the Mexican–American War, and later become an equally vigorous opponent of the Wilmot Proviso, which would have barred the extension of slavery into territories that were acquired after the war. He also controversially tabled the Clayton Compromise, which would have excluded slavery from the Oregon Territory and left the issue of slavery in New Mexico and California to the Supreme Court. This would later nearly kill Stephens when he argued with Judge Francis H. Cone, who stabbed him repeatedly in a fit of anger.Stephens was physically outmatched by his larger assailant, but he remained defiant during the attack, refusing to recant his positions even at the cost of his life. Only the intervention of others saved him. Stephens' wounds were serious, and he returned home to Crawfordville to recover. He and Cone reconciled before Cone's death in 1859.
Stephens and fellow Georgia Representative Robert Toombs campaigned for the election of Zachary Taylor as President in 1848. Both were chagrined and angered when Taylor proved less than pliable on aspects of the Compromise of 1850. Stephens and Toombs both supported said compromise between slave and free states, though they opposed the exclusion of slavery from the territories on the theory that such lands belonged to all of the people. The pair returned from the District of Columbia to Georgia to secure support for the measures at home. Both men were instrumental in the drafting and approval of the Georgia Platform, which rallied Unionists throughout the Deep South.
Stephens and Toombs were not only political allies but also lifelong friends. Stephens was described as "a highly sensitive young man of serious and joyless habits of consuming ambition, of poverty-fed pride, and of morbid preoccupation within self," a contrast to the "robust, wealthy, and convivial Toombs. But this strange camaraderie endured with singular accord throughout their lives."
By this time, Stephens had departed the ranks of the Whig party, its Northern wing generally not amenable to some Southern interests. Back in Georgia, Stephens, Toombs, and Democratic Representative Howell Cobb formed the Constitutional Union Party. The party overwhelmingly carried the state in the ensuing election and, for the first time, Stephens returned to Congress no longer a Whig. Stephens spent the next few years as a Constitutional Unionist, essentially an independent. He vigorously opposed the dismantling of the Constitutional Union Party when it began crumbling in 1851. Political realities soon forced the Union Democrats in the party to affiliate once more with the national party, and by mid-1852, the combination of both Democrats and Whigs, which had formed a "party" behind the Compromise, had ended.
The sectional issue surged to the forefront again in 1854, when Senator Stephen A. Douglas, from Illinois, moved to organize the Nebraska Territory, all of which lay north of the Missouri Compromise line, in the Kansas–Nebraska Act. This legislation aroused fury in the North because it applied the popular sovereignty principle to the Territory, in violation of the Missouri Compromise. Had it not been for Stephens, the bill probably never would have passed in the House. He employed an obscure House rule to bring the bill to a vote. He later called this "the greatest glory of my life."
From this point on, Stephens voted with the Democrats. Until after 1855, Stephens could not be properly called a Democrat, and even then, he never officially declared it. In this move, Stephens broke irrevocably with many of his former Whig colleagues. When the Whig Party disintegrated after the election of 1852, some Whigs flocked to the short-lived Know-Nothing Party, but Stephens fiercely opposed the Know-Nothings both for their secrecy and their anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic position.
Despite his late arrival in the Democratic Party, Stephens quickly rose through the ranks. He even served as President James Buchanan's floor manager in the House during the fruitless battle for the slave state Lecompton Constitution for Kansas Territory in 1857. He was instrumental in framing the failed English Bill after it became clear that Lecompton would not pass, in order to negotiate its approval.
Stephens did not seek re-election to Congress in 1858. As sectional peace eroded during the next two years, Stephens became increasingly critical of Southern extremists. Although virtually the entire South had spurned Douglas as a traitor to Southern rights because he had opposed the Lecompton Constitution and broken with Buchanan, Stephens remained on good terms with Douglas and even served as one of his presidential electors in the election of 1860.
On November 14, 1860, Stephens delivered a speech entitled "The Assertions of a Secessionist". He said:
When I look around and see our prosperity in every thing, agriculture, commerce, art, science, and every department of education, physical and mental, as well as moral advancement, and our colleges, I think, in the face of such an exhibition, if we can, without the loss of power, or any essential right or interest, remain in the Union, it is our duty to ourselves and to posterity to—let us not too readily yield to this temptation—do so. Our first parents, the great progenitors of the human race, were not without a like temptation when in the garden of Eden. They were led to believe that their condition would be bettered—that their eyes would be opened—and that they would become as gods. They in an evil hour yielded—instead of becoming gods, they only saw their own nakedness. I look upon this country, with our institutions, as the Eden of the world, the paradise of the universe.
On the eve of the outbreak of the American Civil War, he counseled delay in moving militarily against U.S.-held Fort Sumter and Pickens so that the Confederacy could build up its forces and stock resources.
In 1861, Stephens was elected as a delegate to the Georgia Secession Convention to decide Georgia's response to the election of Abraham Lincoln. During the convention, as well as during the 1860 presidential campaign, Stephens, who came to be known as the sage of Liberty Hall,called for the South to remain loyal to the Union, likening it to a leaking but fixable boat. During the convention he reminded his fellow delegates that Republicans were a minority in Congress (especially in the Senate) and, even with a Republican President, they would be forced to compromise just as the two sections had for decades. Because the Supreme Court had voted 7–2 in the Dred Scott case, it would take decades of Senate-approved appointments to reverse it. He voted against secession in the convention but asserted the right to secede if the federal government continued allowing northern states to nullify the Fugitive Slave Law with "personal liberty laws." He was elected to the Confederate Congress and was chosen by the Congress as Vice President of the provisional government. He took the provisional oath of office on February 11, 1861, then the 'full term' oath of office on February 22, 1862 (after being elected in November 1861) and served until his arrest on May 11, 1865. Stephens officially served in office eight days longer than President Jefferson Davis; he took his oath seven days before Davis's inauguration and was captured the day after Davis.
On March 21, 1861, Stephens gave his famous Cornerstone Speech in Savannah, Georgia. In it he declared that slavery was the natural condition of blacks and the foundation of the Confederacy. He declared that relative to the U.S. Constitution, "Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."
In 1862, Stephens first publicly expressed his opposition to the Davis administration.Throughout the war he denounced many of the president's policies, including conscription, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus , impressment, various financial and taxation policies, and Davis's military strategy.
In mid-1863, Davis dispatched Stephens on a fruitless mission to Washington to discuss prisoner exchanges, but the Union victory of Gettysburg made the Lincoln Administration refuse to receive him. As the war continued and the fortunes of the Confederacy sank lower, Stephens became more outspoken in his opposition to the administration. On March 16, 1864, Stephens delivered a speechto the Georgia Legislature that was widely reported in both the North and the South. In it, he excoriated the Davis Administration for its support of conscription and suspension of habeas corpus, and supported a block of resolutions aimed at securing peace. From then until the end of the war, as he continued to press for actions aimed at bringing about peace, his relations with Davis, never warm to begin with, turned completely sour.
On February 3, 1865, he was one of three Confederate commissioners who met with Lincoln on the steamer River Queen at the Hampton Roads Conference, a fruitless effort to discuss measures to bring an end to the fight. Stephens and Lincoln had been close friends and Whig political allies in the 1840s.Although peace terms were not reached, Lincoln did agree to look into the whereabouts of Stephens's nephew, Confederate Lieutenant John A. Stephens. When Lincoln returned to Washington, he ordered the release of Lieutenant Stephens.
Stephens was arrested for treason against the United States at his home in Crawfordville, on May 11, 1865. He was imprisoned in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, for five months until October 1865.In 1866, he was elected to the United States Senate by the first legislature convened under the new Georgia State Constitution, but was not allowed to take his seat because of restrictions on former Confederates.
Stephens published a U.S. history in 1868–1870, laying out the Lost Cause of the Confederacy: that secession was legal, and the attacks from the North aggression.
In 1873, Stephens was elected US Representative as a Democrat from the 8th District to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ambrose R. Wright. Stephens was subsequently re-elected to the 8th District as an Independent Democrat in 1874, 1876, and 1878, and as a Democrat again in 1880.He described himself, on the title page of the 1876 edition of his Compendium, as "Professor Elect of History and Political Science at the University of Georgia". He served in the 43rd through 47th Congresses, from December 1, 1873, until his resignation on November 4, 1882. On that date, he was elected and took office as Governor of Georgia. His tenure as governor proved brief; Stephens died on March 4, 1883, four months after taking office.
Almost all of his former slaves continued to work for him, often for little or no money; [ better source needed ] whether this decision was voluntary or the result of few other options existing for former slaves in the Deep South is difficult to determine. These servants were with him upon his death. Although old and infirm, Stephens continued to work on his house and plantation. According to a former slave, a gate fell on Stephens while he and another black servant were repairing it, "and he was crippled and lamed up from that time on till he died." The veracity of this rumor is difficult to determine as the cited ex-slave was not present when this happened.
He is pictured on the CSA $20.00 banknote (3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th issues).
Stephens County, Georgia, and Stephens County, Texas, bear his name, as does A. H. Stephens State Park, near Crawfordville,containing his home, Liberty Hall.
A collection of Stephens's personal papers has been digitized and is available at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.
A sculpture of Stephens appears in the National Statuary Hall Collection, representing one of two figures from Georgia history, the other being Crawford W. Long. There have been calls to replace Stephens' sculpture in the collection with that of another Georgian, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to Bruce Catton, he was "given one of the most haunting nicknames ever worn by an American politician: 'The Little Pale Star from Georgia.'"
The Confederate States of America, commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves. Convinced that white supremacy and the institution of slavery was threatened with the November 1860 election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. presidency on a platform which opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories, the Confederacy declared its secession from the United States, with the remaining states becoming known as the Union during the ensuing American Civil War. According to Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens in his famous Cornerstone Speech, Confederate ideology was centrally based "upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition..."
The 1860 United States presidential election was the nineteenth quadrennial presidential election to select the President and Vice President of the United States. The election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 1860. In a four-way contest, the Republican Party ticket of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin emerged triumphant. The election of Lincoln served as the primary catalyst of the American Civil War.
William Henry Seward was United States Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869, and earlier served as governor of New York and United States Senator. A determined opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the American Civil War, he was a prominent figure in the Republican Party in its formative years, and was praised for his work on behalf of the Union as Secretary of State during the Civil War.
Robert Augustus Toombs was an American lawyer, planter, and politician from Georgia who became one of the organizers of the Confederacy and served as its first Secretary of State. He served in Jefferson Davis' cabinet as well as in the Confederate States Army, but later became one of Davis' critics. He fled the United States after the Confederate defeat, returning in 1867 after his daughter's death. He regained political power in Georgia as Congressional Reconstruction ended.
The Confederate States Constitution, formally the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, was the supreme law of the Confederate States, as adopted on March 11, 1861, and in effect from February 22, 1862, through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861, to February 22, 1862. The original Provisional Constitution is currently located at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, and differs slightly from the version later adopted. The final, hand-written document is currently located in the University of Georgia archives at Athens, Georgia. In regard to most articles of the Constitution, the document is a word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution. However, there are crucial differences between the two documents, in tone and legal content, primarily regarding slavery.
In the context of the American Civil War (1861–65), the border states were slave states that did not declare a secession from the Union and did not join the Confederacy. To their north they bordered free states of the Union and to their south they bordered Confederate slave states. Of the 34 U.S. states in 1861, nineteen were free states and fifteen were slave states. Two slave states never declared a secession or adopted an ordinance: Delaware and Maryland. Four others did not declare secession until after the Battle of Fort Sumter and were briefly considered to be border states: Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia—after this, they were less frequently called "border states". Also included as a border state during the war is West Virginia, which was formed from 50 counties of Virginia and became a new state in the Union in 1863.
Thomas Corwin, also known as Tom Corwin, The Wagon Boy, and Black Tom was a politician from the state of Ohio. He represented Ohio in both houses of Congress and served as the 15th Governor of Ohio and the 20th Secretary of the Treasury. After affiliating with the Whig Party, he joined the Republican Party in the 1850s. Corwin is best known for his sponsorship of the proposed Corwin Amendment, which was presented in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the oncoming American Civil War.
The Constitutional Union Party was a United States third party active during the 1860 elections. It consisted of conservative former Whigs, largely from the Southern United States, who wanted to avoid secession over the slavery issue and refused to join either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. The Constitutional Union Party campaigned on a simple platform "to recognize no political principle other than the Constitution of the country, the Union of the states, and the Enforcement of the Laws".
Thomas Howell Cobb was an American political figure. A southern Democrat, Cobb was a five-term member of the United States House of Representatives and Speaker of the House from 1849 to 1851. He also served as the 40th Governor of Georgia (1851–1853) and as a Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan (1857–1860).
Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart was a prominent Virginia lawyer and American political figure associated with several political parties. Stuart served in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, as a U.S. Congressman (1841-1843), and as the Secretary of the Interior. Despite opposing Virginia's secession and holding no office after finishing his term in the Virginia Senate during the American Civil War, after the war he was denied a seat in Congress. Stuart led the Committee of Nine which attempted to ameliorate Congressional Reconstruction, and also served as rector of the University of Virginia.
William Lowndes Yancey was a journalist, politician, orator, diplomat and an American leader of the Southern secession movement. A member of the group known as the Fire-Eaters, Yancey was one of the most-effective agitators for secession and rhetorical defenders of slavery. An early critic of John C. Calhoun and nullification, by the late 1830s Yancey began to identify with Calhoun and the struggle against the forces of the anti-slavery movement. In 1849, Yancey was a firm supporter of Calhoun's "Southern Address" and an adamant opponent of the Compromise of 1850.
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of 131 leading American politicians in February 1861, at the Willard's Hotel in Washington, DC, on the eve of the American Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the 1860 presidential elections led to a flurry of political activity. In much of the South, elections were held to select delegates to special conventions to consider secession from the Union. In Congress, efforts were made in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to reach compromise over the issues relating to slavery that were dividing the nation. The conference was the final effort by the individual states to resolve the crisis. With the seven states of the Cotton South already committed to secession, the emphasis to preserve the Union peacefully focused on the eight slaveholding states representing the Upper and Border South, with the states of Virginia and Kentucky playing key roles.
John Brown Baldwin was a Virginia lawyer and Democratic politician, who served one term in Virginia House of Delegates before the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, during which he was a Unionist. During the American Civil War, Baldwin believed his primary loyalty was to his state, and served as one of Virginia's representatives to the First and Second Confederate Congresses. He became one of the leading critics of President Jefferson Davis, who was seen by many as usurping the Confederacy's states' rights principles. During Congressional Reconstruction, Balwin became Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Benjamin Harvey Hill was a politician whose career spanned state and national politics, and the Civil War. He served in the Georgia legislature in both houses. Although he had opposed secession, he stayed with the South and served as a Confederate senator representing Georgia.
Henry Cornelius Burnett was an American politician who served as a Confederate States Senator from Kentucky from 1862 to 1865. From 1855 to 1861, Burnett served four terms in the United States House of Representatives. A lawyer by profession, Burnett had held only one public office—circuit court clerk—before being elected to Congress. He represented Kentucky's 1st congressional district immediately prior to the Civil War. This district contained the entire Jackson Purchase region of the state, which was more sympathetic to the Confederate cause than any other area of Kentucky. Burnett promised the voters of his district that he would have President Abraham Lincoln arraigned for treason. Unionist newspaper editor George D. Prentice described Burnett as "a big, burly, loud-mouthed fellow who is forever raising points of order and objections, to embarrass the Republicans in the House".
Thomas Salem Bocock was a nineteenth-century politician and lawyer from Virginia. After serving as an antebellum United States Congressman, he was the Speaker of the Confederate States House of Representatives during most of the American Civil War.
The Georgia Platform was a statement executed by a Georgia Convention in Milledgeville, Georgia on December 10, 1850, in response to the Compromise of 1850. Supported by Unionists, the document affirmed the acceptance of the Compromise as a final resolution of the sectional slavery issues while declaring that no further assaults on Southern rights by the North would be acceptable. The Platform had political significance throughout the South. In the short term it was an effective antidote to secession, but in the long run it contributed to sectional solidarity and the demise of the Second Party System in the South. Much of the document was written by Charles J. Jenkins, a Whig lawyer and state legislator from Augusta.
At the end of the American Civil War, the devastation and disruption in the state of Georgia were dramatic. Wartime damage, the inability to maintain a labor force without slavery, and miserable weather had a disastrous effect on agricultural production. The state's chief cash crop, cotton, fell from a high of more than 700,000 bales in 1860 to less than 50,000 in 1865, while harvests of corn and wheat were also meager. The state government subsidized construction of numerous new railroad lines. White farmers turned to cotton as a cash crop, often using commercial fertilizers to make up for the poor soils they owned. The coastal rice plantations never recovered from the war.
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician and lawyer from Illinois. He was the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1860 election, but he was defeated by Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln. Douglas had previously bested Lincoln in the 1858 Illinois election for the United States Senate, which is known for the Lincoln–Douglas debates. During the 1850s, Douglas was one of the foremost advocates of popular sovereignty, which held that each territory should be allowed to determine whether to permit slavery within its borders. Douglas was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short in physical stature, but a forceful and dominant figure in politics.
The Virginia Secession Convention of 1861 was called in Richmond to determine secession from the United States, to govern the state during a state of emergency, and to write a new Constitution for Virginia, which was subsequently voted down in referendum under the Confederate regime.
Stephens, was not a big fan of his superior.
I just take up my pen to say, that Mr. Stephens of Georgia, a little slim pale faced consumptive man, with a voice like Logan's, has just concluded the very best speech, of an hour's length, I ever heard. My old, withered, dry eyes are full of tears yet. If he writes it out any thing like he delivered it, our people shall see a good many copies of it.
Source: Henry Cleveland, Alexander H. Stephens, in Public and Private: With Letters and Speeches, Before, During, and Since the War (Philadelphia, 1886), pp. 717–729.