Vice President John Cabel Breckenridge
Facts and Events
||Vice President John Cabel Breckenridge
||16 Jan 1821
||Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
||17 May 1875
||Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
||Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
John Breckenridge represented Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives and was then elected Vice President in 1856 at the age of 35, making him the youngest vice president in history. While simultaneously running unsuccessfully for president in 1860, he was elected as senator for Kentucky. He served briefly before being expelled for supporting the Confederacy, and then joined the Confederate Army.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 John C. Breckinridge, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was a lawyer and politician from the U.S. state of Kentucky. He represented the Commonwealth in both houses of Congress and in 1857, became the 14th and youngest-ever Vice President of the United States (1857–1861). Serving in the U.S. Senate at the outbreak of the Civil War, he was expelled after joining the Confederate Army. He remains the only Senator of the United States convicted of treason against the United States of America by the Senate. He was appointed Confederate Secretary of War late in the war. A member of the Breckinridge family, he was the grandson of U.S. Attorney General John Breckinridge, son of Kentucky Secretary of State Cabell Breckinridge and father of Arkansas Congressman Clifton R. Breckinridge.
After non-combat service in the Mexican–American War, Breckinridge was elected as a Democrat to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1849 where he took a states' rights position against legal interference with slavery. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1851, he allied with Stephen A. Douglas in support of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. After reapportionment in 1854 made his re-election unlikely, he declined to run for another term. He was nominated for vice-president at the 1856 Democratic National Convention to balance a ticket headed by Pennsylvanian James Buchanan. The Democrats won the election, but Breckinridge had little influence with Buchanan and, as presiding officer of the Senate, could not express his opinions in that body's debates. In 1859, he was elected to succeed U.S. Senator John J. Crittenden at the end of Crittenden's term in 1861.
After Southern Democrats walked out of the 1860 Democratic National Convention, the party's northern and southern factions held rival conventions in Baltimore, Maryland that nominated Stephen Douglas and Breckinridge, respectively, for president. Breckinridge carried most of the southern states but no northern states and lost the election. Taking his seat in the Senate, he urged compromise to preserve the Union although seven states had already seceded. Unionists took control of the state legislature when Kentucky's neutrality was breached, but Breckinridge fled behind Confederate battle lines where he was commissioned a brigadier general; he was then expelled from the Senate. After the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, he was promoted to major general, and in October he was assigned to the command of Braxton Bragg. After Bragg charged that Breckinridge's drunkenness had contributed to Confederate defeats at Stone River and Missionary Ridge, he was transferred to the Trans-Allegheny Department, where he won his most significant victory at the Battle of New Market. After participating in Jubal Early's 1864 campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley, he was charged with defending Confederate supplies in Tennessee and Virginia. In February 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed him Secretary of War. Concluding that the war was hopeless, he urged Davis to arrange a national surrender. After the fall of the Confederate capital at Richmond, he ensured the preservation of Confederate military and governmental records. He then fled to Cuba, Great Britain, and finally, to Canada. In exile, he toured Europe from August 1866 to June 1868. When President Andrew Johnson extended amnesty to all former Confederates in late 1868, he returned to Kentucky, but resisted all encouragement to resume his political career. Issues from war injuries sapped his health, and after two operations, he died on May 17, 1875.
- ↑ John C. Breckenridge, in Nndb, .
Birthplace: Lexington, KY
Location of death: Lexington, KY
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Politician, Military
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: James Buchanan's Vice President
Military service: Third Kentucky Volunteers (Mexican War); Confederate Army (US Civil War)
The American soldier and politician John C. Breckinridge was born near Lexington, Kentucky, on the 21st of January 1821. He was a member of a family prominent in the public life of Kentucky and the nation. His grandfather, John Breckinridge (1760-1806), who revised Thomas Jefferson's draft of the "Kentucky Resolutions" of 1798, was a United States Senator from Kentucky in 1801-05 and Attorney General in President Jefferson's cabinet in 1805-06. His uncles, John Breckinridge (1797-1841), professor of pastoral theology in the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1836-38 and for many years after secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, and Robert Jefferson Breckinridge (1800-71), for several years superintendent of public instruction in Kentucky, an important factor in the organization of the public school system of the state, a professor from 1853 to 1871 in the Danville Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Danville, Kentucky, and the temporary chairman of the national Republican convention of 1864, were both prominent clergymen of the Presbyterian Church. His cousin, William Campbell Preston Breckinridge (1837-1904), was a Democratic representative in Congress from 1885 to 1893. Another cousin, Joseph Cabell Breckinridge (b. 1842), served on the Union side in the Civil War, was a major-general of volunteers during the Spanish-American War (1898), became a major-general in the regular United States Army in 1903, and was inspector-general of the United States Army from 1899 until his retirement from active service in 1904.
John Cabell Breckinridge graduated in 1838 at Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, continued his studies at Princeton, and then studied law at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. He practised law in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1840-1 and in Burlington, Iowa, from 1841 to 1843, and then returned to Kentucky and followed his profession at Lexington. In 1847 he went to Mexico as major in a volunteer regiment, but arrived too late for service in the field. In 1849 he was elected a Democratic member of the Kentucky legislature, and in 1851-55 he served in the national House of Representatives. President Franklin Pierce offered him the position of minister to Spain, but he declined it. In 1856 he was chosen Vice President of the United States on the James Buchanan ticket, and although a strong pro-slavery and states' rights man, he presided over the Senate with conspicuous fairness and impartiality during the trying years before the Civil War. In 1860 he was nominated for the Presidency by the pro-slavery seceders from the Democratic national convention, and received a total of 72 electoral votes, including those of every Southern state except Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. As Vice President and presiding officer of the Senate, it was his duty to make the official announcement of the election of his opponent, Abraham Lincoln. He succeeded John J. Crittenden as United States Senator from Kentucky in March 1861, but having subsequently entered the Confederate service he was expelled from the Senate in December 1861. As brigadier-general he commanded the Confederate reserve at Shiloh, and in August 1862 he became major-general. On the 5th of this month he was repulsed in his attack on Baton Rouge, but he won distinction at Stone River (December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863), where his division lost nearly a third of its number. He took part in the battle of Chickamauga, defeated General Franz Sigel at Newmarket, Virginia, on the 15th of May 1864, and then joined Robert E. Lee and took part in the battles of Cold Harbor on the 1st and on the 3rd of June. In the autumn he operated in the Shenandoah Valley, and with Early was defeated by Philip Henry Sheridan at Winchester on the 19th of September. Being transferred to the department of South-west Virginia, he fought a number of minor engagements in eastern Tennessee, and in January 1865 became Secretary of War for the Confederate States. At the close of the war he escaped to Cuba, and from there went to Europe. In 1868 he returned to the United States and resumed the practice of law at Lexington, Kentucky, where he died on the 17th of May 1875.
- ↑ Historical Marker, in Kentucky Historical Society. Historical Marker Database , Secondary quality.
Breckinridge's Last Home
Marker Number 1742
Location 429 W. Second St., Lexington
Description Built circa 1866, this house was occupied by John C. Breckinridge in 1874-1875. The former U.S. senator and youngest U.S. vice-president was also a Confederate general and secretary of war. After exile, he returned to Lexington in 1869 and resumed the practice of law. He rented this house the last year of his life and died here May 17, 1875.