John C. Breckenridge

John C. Breckenridge

John C. Breckenridge was one of four candidates for president in the Election of 1860, having been nominated by the Southern Democrats. He came in behind the winner, Abraham Lincoln, as well as Stephen A. Douglas, the candidate of the northern Democrats.

After Secession, Breckenridge served first as a general in the Confederate Army and then in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis as the fourth and last Secretary of War for the Confederate States of America.

John C. Breckinridge

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John C. Breckinridge, in full John Cabell Breckinridge, (born January 21, 1821, near Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.—died May 17, 1875, Lexington), 14th vice president of the United States (1857–61), unsuccessful presidential candidate of Southern Democrats (November 1860), and Confederate officer during the American Civil War (1861–65).

Descended from an old Kentucky family distinguished in law and politics, Breckinridge was the only son of Joseph Cabell Breckinridge and Mary Clay Smith. Graduating from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, he studied law at Princeton University and Transylvania University. He became an attorney and began his political career in 1849 as a member of the state legislature. In 1851 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. During this troubled antebellum period, he established his reputation as a faithful Democrat, and, when his party nominated James Buchanan of Pennsylvania for president in 1856, Breckinridge was a natural choice to balance the ticket between North and South. Once in office, however, Buchanan and Breckinridge—at age 36 the youngest vice president in American history—were unable to fend off the sectional conflict.

Challenged by the newly formed Republican Party, which resisted extension of slavery into the territories, the Democratic Party broke apart at its national convention in the summer of 1860. The Northern wing nominated Stephen A. Douglas on a platform favouring the doctrine of popular sovereignty, whereby the people of each territory would decide whether to allow slavery within their region’s boundaries, while the Southerners chose Breckinridge on a separate ticket demanding federal intervention to protect slave holdings. Breckinridge insisted that he was not anti-Union but held that slavery could not be banned in a territory until it had become a state. Defeated in the November election by Republican Abraham Lincoln, Breckinridge succeeded John J. Crittenden as United States senator from Kentucky in March 1861 but resigned later that year. He worked for accommodation and compromise, but after Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina (April 12), in the first engagement of the American Civil War, he maintained that the Union no longer existed and urged Kentucky to feel free to secede (it temporarily remained neutral).

His formal expulsion from the Senate in December was a meaningless gesture because he had already been commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate army in November. After the Battle of Shiloh (April 6–7, 1862), in which he commanded the reserve, he was promoted to the rank of major general and thereafter took part in many campaigns, including Vicksburg (June 1863), the Wilderness (May 1864), and Shenandoah Valley (1864–65). In the final months of the war, Breckinridge served as Confederate secretary of war, and at the end of the hostilities he fled to England. After a self-imposed exile of three years, he returned to resume his law practice in Lexington, where he died seven years later.

John C. Breckenridge

John Cabell Breckenridge was born near Lexington, Kentucky. He studied law at Transylvania University and after graduating he set up as a lawyer. Breckenridge was elected to the House of Representatives in 1851 and served as vice-president of the United States (1857-61).

The Democratic Party that met in Charleston in April, 1860, were deeply divided. Most delegates from the Deep South argued that the Congress had no power to legislate over slavery in their territory. The Northerners disagreed and won the vote. As a result the Southerners walked out of the convention and another meeting was held in Baltimore. Again the Southerners walked out over the issue of slavery. With only the Northern delegates left, Stephen A. Douglas won the nomination.

Southern delegates now held another meeting in Richmond and Breckenridge was selected as their candidate. The situation was further complicated by the formation of the Constitutional Union Party and the nomination of John Bell of Tennessee.

Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election with with 1,866,462 votes (18 free states) and beat Stephen A. Douglas (1,375,157 - 1 slave state), Breckenridge (847,953 - 13 slave states) and John Bell (589,581 - 3 slave states). Between election day in November, 1860 and inauguration the following March, seven states seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Representatives from these seven states quickly established a new political organization, the Confederate States of America. On 8th February they adopted a constitution and within ten days had elected Jefferson Davis as its president with Breckenridge as Secretary of War. After the American Civil War he escaped to Europe. John Cabell Breckenridge died in 1875.

Letter to John C. Breckinridge

Many primary documents relate to multiple themes in American history and government and are curated by different editors for particular collections. In the dropdown menu, we provide links to variant excerpts of the document, with study questions relevant to particular themes.

DEAR SIR, The enclosed letter, tho’ directed to you, was intended to me also, and was left open with a request, that when perused, I would forward it to you. It gives me occasion to write a word to you on the subject of Louisiana, which being a new one, an interchange of sentiments may produce correct ideas before we are to act on them.

Our information as to the country is very incompleat we have taken measures to obtain it in full as to the settled part, which I hope to receive in time for Congress. The boundaries, which I deem not admitting question, are the high lands on the western side of the Missisipi enclosing all it’s waters, on the western side of the Missouri of course, and terminating in the line drawn from the northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods to the nearest source of the Missipi, as lately settled between Gr Britain and the US. We have some claims, to extend on the sea coast Westwardly to the Rio Norte or Bravo, and better, to go Eastwardly to the Rio Perdido, between Mobile & Pensacola, the antient boundary of Louisiana. These claims will be a subject of negociation with Spain, and if, as soon as she is at war, we push them strongly with one hand, holding out a price in the other, we shall certainly obtain the Floridas, and all in good time. In the meanwhile, without waiting for permission, we shall enter into the exercise of the natural right we have always insisted on with Spain, to wit, that of a nation holding the upper part of streams, having a right of innocent passage thro’ them to the ocean. We shall prepare her to see us practice on this, & she will not oppose it by force.

Objections are raising to the Eastward against the vast extent of our boundaries, and propositions are made to exchange Louisiana, or a part of it, for the Floridas. But, as I have said, we shall get the Floridas without, and I would not give one inch of the waters of the Mississippi to any nation, because I see in a light very important to our peace the exclusive right to it’s navigation & the admission of no nation into it, but as into the Potomak or Delaware, with our consent & under our police. These federalists see in this acquisition the formation of a new confederacy, embracing all the waters of the Missipi, on both sides of it, and a separation of it’s Eastern waters from us. These combinations depend on so many circumstances which we cannot foresee, that I place little reliance on them. We have seldom seen neighborhood produce affection among nations. The reverse is almost the universal truth. Besides, if it should become the great interest of those nations to separate from this, if their happiness should depend on it so strongly as to induce them to go through that convulsion, why should the Atlantic States dread it? But especially why should we, their present inhabitants, take side in such a question? When I view the Atlantic States, procuring for those on the Eastern waters of the Missipi friendly instead of hostile neighbors on it’s Western waters, I do not view it as an Englishman would the procuring future blessings for the French nation, with whom he has no relations of blood or affection. The future inhabitants of the Atlantic & Missipi States will be our sons. We leave them in distinct but bordering establishments. We think we see their happiness in their union, & we wish it. Events may prove it otherwise and if they see their interest in separation, why should we take side with our Atlantic rather than our Missipi descendants? It is the elder and the younger son differing. God bless them both, & keep them in union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better. The inhabited part of Louisiana, from Point Coupee to the sea, will of course be immediately a territorial government, and soon a State. But above that, the best use we can make of the country for some time, will be to give establishments in it to the Indians on the East side of the Missipi, in exchange for their present country, and open land offices in the last & thus make this acquisition the means of filling up the Eastern side, instead of drawing off it’s population. When we shall be full on this side, we may lay off a range of States on the Western bank from the head to the mouth, & so, range after range, advancing compactly as we multiply.

This treaty must of course laid before both Houses, because both have important functions to exercise respecting it. They, I presume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying & paying for it, so as to secure a good which would otherwise probably be never again in their power. But I suppose they must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constitution, approving & confirming an act which the nation had not previously authorized. The constitution has made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations into our Union. The Executive in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the Constitution. The Legislature in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties, and risking themselves like faithful servants, must ratify & pay for it, and throw themselves on their country for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would have done fro themselves had they been in a situation to do it. It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory & saying to him when of age, I did this for your good I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can: I thought it my duty to risk myself for you. But we shall not be disavowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm & not weaken the Constitution, by more strongly marking out its lines.

We have nothing later from Europe than the public papers give. I hope yourself and all the Western members will make a sacred point of being at the first day of the meeting of Congress for vestra res agitur.

Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.

WI: President John C. Breckinridge during the Secessionist Winter

Let's assume that President Buchanan dies in November of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln has been elected. For simplicity's sake, lets assume he dies of illness or a heart attack. Accordingly, Vice President Beckinridge becomes President in the interim period between Buchanan's death and Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861.

I presume the Secessionist Winter and the formation of the Confederacy would still occur (as Lincoln will still become President in 1861). That leaves me with a few questions:

  1. Would any additional state secede during the Secessionist Winter?
  2. Would Breckenridge attempt some sort of national reconciliation? What could this look like and would it have any chance of being successful?
  3. Assuming there is no attempt at national reconciliation or such attempts fail - would President Breckenridge recognize the C.S.A. as Independent and order federal assets to leave the Confederacy?
  4. Assuming Breckenridge extends diplomatic recognition to the C.S.A (this is within the powers of the President - correct?) - what does Lincoln do once he becomes President?
  5. What happens in the Upper South while all of this is going on?
  6. What does Breckenridge do in the aftermath of his Presidency?



Would Breckenridge actually try to stay on as President?

What might happen with Arizona Territory? They tried to secede before Fort Sumter - so is there any chance they get included within the Confederacy? (assuming they decide to secede two or three weeks earlier, before Lincoln becomes President)

Kaiser K


Kaiser K



Now this is an interesting question.

Let's assume that President Buchanan dies in November of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln has been elected. For simplicity's sake, lets assume he dies of illness or a heart attack. Accordingly, Vice President Beckinridge becomes President in the interim period between Buchanan's death and Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861.

I presume the Secessionist Winter and the formation of the Confederacy would still occur (as Lincoln will still become President in 1861). That leaves me with a few questions:

  1. Would any additional state secede during the Secessionist Winter? (1)
  2. Would Breckenridge attempt some sort of national reconciliation? What could this look like and would it have any chance of being successful? (2)
  3. Assuming there is no attempt at national reconciliation or such attempts fail - would President Breckenridge recognize the C.S.A. as Independent (3) and order federal assets to leave the Confederacy? (4)
  4. Assuming Breckenridge extends diplomatic recognition to the C.S.A (this is within the powers of the President - correct?) - what does Lincoln do once he becomes President? (5)
  5. What happens in the Upper South while all of this is going on? (6)
  6. What does Breckenridge do in the aftermath of his Presidency? (7)

1) Only if Breckinridge actively encourages it. The problem for him is that pre-Fort Sumter a lot of future CSA states remained in the Union.

2) Impossible. With Lincoln's election as far as the Fire Eaters were concerned the dye was cast. Besides, Breckinridge's heart would be even less in it than Buchanan's.

4) More likely he'd order all Federal assets handed over to his newly recognized Confederacy. He could well order all Federal forces in the CSA to surrender to the nearest Confederate authorities as well.

5) VERY good question. Probably arranges for a congressional denunciation of Breckinridge as a traitor. If he does all as you describe he certainly constitutionally qualifies. Lincoln breaks off diplomatic relations with the CSA. After that, Breckinridge is seen in the North as Benedict Arnold on steroids, human growth hormone, and amphetamines. See below on #7.

6) Probably OTL, as the Border States, Virginia, and Tennessee will be re-assured by Breckinridge's ascension and his subsequent actions ITTL.

7) Go South of course. He'll have to if he wants to avoid a Federal treason trial that leads to the thirteen steps. I'm not joking. After all, if Breckinridge does as described above, then ALL Republicans and the soon-to-be) War Democrats will be howling for his blood. Post Lincoln's inauguration his very life could be in danger, even in Kentucky. BRECKINRIDGE HAS NO FUTURE IN THE UNION AFTER ALL OF THE ABOVE, AND WILL PROBABLY BE ON THE SAME BOAT AS CONFEDERATE SECRETARY OF STATE JUDAH BENJAMIN FLEEING THE CSA FOR LONDON.

Assuming Confederate survival, Breckinridge would have an excellent political future in the Confederacy.


Breckenridge was a good man who had always worked for what he believed to be the United States best interest - and he firmly believed the US was the greatest country with the finest democracy in the world - but he did believe that the individual states had the right to seceed, so he would not have opposed secession outright but he did want to keep the Union together and believed this could be done through negotiations and political discourse.

Realistically he had no chance of success. He was a moderate in a country that was increasingly becoming radicalised and where firebrands in both north and south would not countenance anything other than a hardline stance. He would have sought to settle the dispute bloodlessly but he would have failed.

The Deep South would seceed regardless and he would favour letting them good in peace and goodwill, but he would have lost the confidence of the remaining members of the senate and likely been voted out of office early.

All this, of course, assuming Lincoln is still set to take officer in 1861.

Ray City History Blog

When the very first train rolled into the newly laid out town of Valdosta, GA, the state newspapers reported the “neigh of the Iron Horse” was heard. Valdosta was Station No. 15 on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the first train, arriving on July 25, 1860, was pulled by the locomotive “Satilla.” Levi J. Knight, original settler at Ray City, GA, was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Lowndes County. Over time, the trains would bring new economic & tourism opportunities to Wiregrass Georgia, like Henry Bank’s Elixir of Life mineral springs at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA

Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, iron horse

The track of the A & G “Main Trunk” Railroad had one month earlier reached Station No. 14, Naylor, GA, sixteen miles east of Valdosta.

The Valdosta (Lowndes Co.) Watchman, on last Tuesday [June 26, 1860], says:
“The ware-house at Naylor Station (No. 14) has been completed, and freight is now regularly received and forwarded. The grading on Section 29 is finished to the eastern boundary of Valdosta, the cross ties are being distributed along the line, and nothing save some unforeseen providential contingency can postpone the arrival of the train at No. 15 longer than 20th July ensuing. The whistle of the Steam Horse has been heard repeatedly in our village the past week.”

The railroad had been built largely by the labor of enslaved African-Americans. The construction had commenced in 1859 at Tebeauville, GA.

For the opening of the tracks to Valdosta, the town invited the A & G railroad executives and prominent citizens of Savannah to a grand celebration of the event. Three thousand people were at Valdosta for the Jubilee held July 31, 1860.

Macon Weekly Georgia Telegraph
August 10, 1860

Railroad Jubilee at Valdosta

The Valdosta Watchman says, the opening of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad to that place was celebrated with a public dinner. A train of seven passenger cars brought numerous guests from Savannah and intermediate places on the road, who arrived at Valdosta at one o’clock, and were welcomed with the heavy booming of a nine pounder.
On the same day the friends of Breckinridge and Lane held a meeting, ratified the nominations, appointed five delegates to Milledgeville and were addressed by Col. Henry R. Jackson and Julian Hartridge, Esq.

Among the prominent attendees:

    , Mayor of Valdosta attorney owner of 10 enslaved people
  • John Screven, President of both the “Main Trunk” Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad Mayor of Savannah State Representative from Chatham County a rice planter on the Savannah River owner of Proctor Plantation, Beaufort, SC owner of 91 enslaved people.
  • Gaspar J. Fulton, Superintendent of the “Main Trunk” Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad owner of 11 enslaved people.
  • Julian Hartridge, State Representative owner of four enslaved people
  • Robert Grant, Savannah attorney
  • Henry Rootes Jackson, prominent attorney and prosecutor of Savannah former U.S. Minister Resident to the Austrian Empire owner of 11 enslaved people. In the Civil War while serving as a major general in the Confederate States Army, Henry R. Jackson’s command included the 29th Georgia Regiment and the Berrien Minute Men.
  • Col. E. R. Young, of Brooks County, GA
  • Col. Thomas Marsh Forman, former state senator, wealthy planter of Savannah, owner of Broughton Island, political rival of Julian Hartridge, son-in-law of Governor Troupe, owner of 171 enslaved people in Chatham, Laurens and Glynn County, GA.
  • Young J. Anderson, of Savannah, former Solicitor General of the Eastern Circuit, attorney and owner of 6 enslaved people. One enslaved woman was the remarkable Rachel Brownfield, who through her own efforts earned enough to buy her own freedom, but Anderson reneged on the deal.
  • Joseph John “JJ” Goldwire, accountant, resident of Valdosta
  • Dr. Augustus Richard Taylor, resident of Valdosta , alumnus of the University of Georgia, resident of Georgia Militia District 662 (Clyattville District) his brother, Augustus Moseley, owned 33 enslaved
  • William Zeigler, wealthy planter of Valdosta and owner of 46 enslaved people.
  • Sumner W. Baker, Troupville, GA attorney residing at Tranquil Hall hotel
  • Rufus Wiley Phillips, Troupville, GA attorney owner of three enslaved people later mayor of Valdosta and a judge of Suwannee County, FL
  • Lenorean DeLyon, editor of the Valdosta Watchman newspaper his brother, Isaac DeLyon, was the first station agent for the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad at Valdosta. A neice, Lenora DeLyon, was a passenger on the first train to reach the town.

Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

Savannah Daily Morning News
Thursday Morning, August 2, 1860

Railroad Celebration at Valdosta.
In response to the invitation of the citizens of Lowndes county to the officers and Directors of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad and the citizens of Savannah, to join with the people of Lowndes and the adjoining counties in celebrating the completion of the Main Trunk to that point, in company with a number of gentlemen we left the city in a special train for Valdosta, at 5 o’clock on Tuesday morning [July 31, 1860]. Not withstanding the extreme heat of the weather, and the dustiness of the track, the trip, over a good road, through a county so recently almost a wilderness, but which is already beginning to exhibit evidences—in its increasing population, rising towns, and growing prosperity and enterprise, of the great benefits which must result to our section of the State from the completion of this great work—was both interesting and pleasant. As the train progressed, and as we neared the point of destination, our party was increased by continual accessions of people, and by the time we reached Valdosta, the cars were filled to the extent of their capacity.

Arriving at Valdosta about two o’clock, we were surprised to find a gathering of some three thousand people, of whom a large proportion were ladies and children—the town surrounded by vehicles of every description, and saddle horses tied to the trees in every direction. The company had just partaken of a most bountiful and well-prepared barbecue, which was spread out upon tables under a shed erected for the purpose. The guests from Savannah were cordially received by the committee, by whom we were invited to the tables, and introduced to many of those present.

John Screven, president of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

After the company had retired from the tables, a meeting was organized by calling Col. E. R. Young, of Brooks county, to the Chair, and appointing Dr. Folsom, Secretary. The object of the meeting having been stated by the chairman, Capt. John Screven, President of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf and Main Trunk Railroads, responded to the general call in an eloquent and appropriate address, in which he spoke of the interesting event to celebrate which, in a becoming manner, he was happy to see so many of fellow citizens and fair countrywomen of Southwestern Georgia assembled in Valdosta. He alluded to the immense benefits which must result to the people of the interior and the cities of the seaboard from the completion of the great iron link which was to bind them together in bonds of mutual Interest and mutual friendship. Capt. Screven’s address was received with demonstrations of cordial approval.

Brief and appropriate addresses were also delivered in response to the call of the meeting by Hon. Henry R. Jackson, Julian Hartridge, Esq., Col. Thos. M. Forman and Y. J. Anderson, Esq., of Savannah, S. W. Baker,Esq., Chairman of the Committee of arrangements, also addressed the meeting. Other gentlemen were also called by the meeting, among them Robert Grant, Esq., of this city. None of them responding, the meeting was finally adjourned, and the immense crowd, most or whom had many miles to travel to their homes, began to disperse. Some objection having been made to a proposition to reorganize the meeting as a political meeting, notice was given that the friends of Breckinridge and Lane would reassemble at the Court House for the purpose of holding a ratification meeting.

A large portion of those present repaired to the Court-house, where a meeting was organized by calling William B. Zeigler, Esq., to preside., and appointing R. T. Roberds

Reuben Thomas Roberds, first mayor of Valdosta

esq., secretary.

The official proceedings of this meeting, which was a very spirited and enthusiastic demonstration of the prevailing sentiment, not only of Lowndes but of the surrounding counties and throughout that section of the State, in favor of Breckinridge and Lane and sound State Rights principles, will be found in another column or our paper.

Judge Jackson, being Invited to address the meeting, made one of his happiest and most effective efforts. After a brief history of the action of the Charleston and Baltimore Conventions, and a fair statement or the great Issue before the country, he confined himself mainly to a most searching review of the political record of John Bell, whom he clearly demonstrated had given evidence by his frevuent votes against the South, and with the North, that his ambition is stronger than his patriotism, and that he is utterly unworthy the confidence of the South in a crisis like the present.

Mr. Hartridge, followed Judge Jackson in one of the ablest and most forcible political speeches we have ever heard him deliver.

Col. Forman, In response to the call of the meeting made a brief and pertinent speech which was also well received by the meeting.

Alter the passage of the resolutions and a vote of thanks to the speakers, the meeting adjourned with three hearty cheers for Breckenridge and Lane.

The crowd at Valdosta on Tuesday comprised a full and fair representation of the people of that portion of Georgia, its brave men, its fair women, and bright youth and was one of the largest as well as most respectable assemblages we have ever seen brought together in the interior and more sparsely populated sections of our State. As we contemplated the vast crowd, and looked upon Valdosta, just emerging from the native pine forest, then echoing the first startling neigh of the Iron horse, who, as he leaps the heretofore impassable barriers that have shut out Southwestern Georgia from the commerce of the world, we endeavored to picture to our mind the great change which a few years must bring to this long neglected and almost unconsidered portion of our noble Slate.

Valdosta, the present terminus of the Main Trunk road, is distant from Savannah 155 miles. The first trees upon its site were felled In February last, and though only a little more than six months old, its present population numbers about five hundred souls. It is handsomely laid out, and though the native trees still obstruct its streets, it has three or four dry goods stores, two grocery stores, two hotels, two steam mills, a court-house, several neat private residences, and last, not least, a printing office and a newspaper.

The Valdosta Hotel, at which we stopped, is well kept by very kind and obliging people, who made up by their willing efforts for whatever they lacked of ability to provide accommodation for a crowd that would have given even our Pulaski House something extra to do. In the emergency of the case we are greatly Indebted to Mr. J. G. Fulton, the worthy Superintendent of the Road, who kindly provided us and many others with excellent sleeping quarters for the night on the cars.

The perfect safety with which the entire trip was made over the road, on a considerable portion of which the rails have been but recently laid, bears testimony alike to the excellence of the road itself and to the carefulness and attention of its employees.


Breckinridge and Lane Meeting At Valdosta.

There was a barbecue given at the above place on Tuesday, 31st July, to celebrate the arrival or the cars at Valdosta, the friends of Breckinridge and Lane availed themselves of this opportunity to hold a ratification meeting, and assembled, after the close of the exercises pertaining to the railroad celebration, in the Court house at Valdosta, In the afternoon of the same day for that purpose.

On motion of Mr. J. J. Goldwire, Mr. William Zeigler was called to the Chair, and R. T. Roberds requested to set as Secretary.

Mr. Goldwire then introduced the resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

1st, Resolved, That we, the Democracy of Lowndes county, do hereby ratify the nominations of John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane, for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United Slates, and we pledge to them our hearty and undivided support, believing, as we do, that it is high time for the people of the South to be united and vigilant In the recognition and enforcement of their constitutional rights.

2d. Resolved, That the Chairman of this meeting do now appoint five delegates to represent the county of Lowndes in the Democratic Convention to assemble at Mllledgevllle on the 8th of August next, to nominate an electoral ticket to cast the vote of Georgia in the Presidential election.

Rufus Wiley Phillips, Valdosta attorney

3d. Resolved, That should it be inconvenient for any one of said delegates to attend said convention, that those who do go be instructed to cast their votes for them, having the same power of the original delegates.

The following gentlemen were appointed by the Chair, to wit: Benjamin F. Mosely, R. W. Phillips, J. J. Goldwire, Dr. A. R Taylor, and Col. Leonorean DeLyon.

Col. H R. Jackson being present, was called on to address the meeting, which he did in his usually eloquent and forcible manner, entertaining his audience with satisfaction for a consider able time, notwithstanding they were fatigued with the other exercises of the day, and so situated as to have to stand to listen at his speech.

Dr. Augustus Richard Taylor, Valdosta physician.

At the suggestion of Col. Williamson, the privilege was extended to any one who wished to take part in the discussion In behalf of Bell or Douglas. No one responding.

Mr. Julian Hartridge was loudly called for, and addressed the meeting in an able and eloquent manner, clearly defining hit position, and giving a satisfactory account of his conduct as a delegate from Georgia in the recent Democratic Presidential Conventions.

Col. Thomas M. Forman was also called for, and addressed the audience in a few pertinent and entertaining remarks. Col. DeLyon moved that the thanks of the meeting be tendered to the speakers, which was. It was then moved that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Valdosta Watchman, Savannah Morning News and the Georgia Forester.

The meeting then adjourned, with three cheers for Breckinridge and Lane, Jackson, Hartridge and Forman.

Wm. Zeigler, Chairman.
R. T. Roberds, Secretary.

By 1862, the regularly scheduled trains of the merged Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the Savannah, Albany & Gulf railroad passed through Valdosta, GA daily.

Early Life

John C. Breckinridge was born on January 16, 1821, at Thorn Hill, near Lexington, Kentucky to Joseph Cabell and Mary Clay Breckinridge. John C. Breckinridge was the fourth child of six and the only son of the family. His father was also a politician and served as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. John C. Breckinridge was later appointed the Kentucky Secretary of State, and the family later moved to the Governor&rsquos Mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky with Governor John Adair. John C. Breckinridge and his other siblings were sent to Lexington during the breakout of the prevailing fever in Frankfort in August 1823. After the return of his parents to Frankfort, they both got ill, and his father later died, and Mary later joined his children in Lexington.

John C. Breckinridge received his education from the Pisgah Academy in Woodford County and was taught political philosophy by his grandmother. John C. Breckinridge enrolled at the Centre College in November 1834 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in September 1838. Upon his graduation, John C. Breckinridge became a resident graduate at the College of New Jersey currently Princeton University from winter1838 to 1839. John C. Breckinridge then returned to Kentucky to study law under Judge William Owsley.

John C. Breckinridge enrolled in at Transylvania University in November 1840 for his second-year law course where John C. Breckinridge studied under Kentucky Court of Appeal judges, George Robertson and Thomas A. Marshall. John C. Breckinridge graduated with a bachelor of law degree on February 25, 1841, and his license to practice the following day

John C. Breckenridge - History

“Tell General Wharton to bring up his division and hurl those fellows back over there, pointing to a brigade of Sheridan 's cavalry led by [George Armstrong] Custer." Gen. Breckinridge to Lt. Col. W.W. Stringfield while fighting against Custer in the Shenandoah Valley

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

Cousin to Breckinridge

1860 Electoral College Map and the Divided Nation

Candidates Lincoln, Breckinridge, Bell, and Douglas

On Christmas Day in 1868, departing President Andrew Johnson issued a blanket pardon for all Confederates. John C. Breckinridge returned to the United States in February 1869. It had been eight long years since Breckinridge had been in Kentucky . When he arrived in Lexington in March 1869, a band played "Home Sweet Home," " Dixie ," and "Hail to the Chief." Breckinridge declared himself through with politics: "I no more feel the political excitements that marked the scenes of my former years than if I were an extinct volcano."

The former vice president practiced law and became active in building railroads. Although he was only fifty-four, his health deteriorated. Despite his weakened condition, Breckinridge surprised his doctor with his clear and strong voice. "Why, Doctor," the famous stump speaker smiled from his deathbed, "I can throw my voice a mile." The gallant and dashing John Cabell Breckinridge died on May 17, 1875.

General John C. Breckinridge (Confederate)

Compiled Military Service Record

John Breckinridge

General John Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge

Breckinridge Grave

Biographical data and notes:
- Born Jan. 16, 1821, in Lexington
- John Cabell Breckinridge died on May 17, 1875
- Died May 17, 1875, at Lexington, Ky.

- Promoted to Brig-Gen (Full, Vol) (November 2, 1861)
- Promoted to Major-Gen (Full, Vol) (April 14, 1862)
- Acting Secretary of War, February 6 to close of war, 1865

-U.S. Army
Breckinridge, John Cabell, major, Third Kentucky Infantry,
in the war with Mexico, 1847.

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John Breckinridge

Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders . Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below.

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!

Recommended Reading : Civil War High Commands ( 1040 pages) (Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades of research, this magisterial work is a biographical register and analysis of the people who most directly influenced the course of the Civil War, its high commanders. Numbering 3,396, they include the presidents and their cabinet members, state governors, general officers of the Union and Confederate armies (regular, provisional, volunteers, and militia), and admirals and commodores of the two navies. Civil War High Commands will become a cornerstone reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Errors of fact and interpretation concerning the high commanders are legion in the Civil War literature, in reference works as well as in narrative accounts. Continued below.

The present work brings together for the first time in one volume the most reliable facts available, drawn from more than 1,000 sources and including the most recent research. The biographical entries include complete names, birthplaces, important relatives, education, vocations, publications, military grades, wartime assignments, wounds, captures, exchanges, paroles, honors, and place of death and interment. In addition to its main component, the biographies, the volume also includes a number of essays, tables, and synopses designed to clarify previously obscure matters such as the definition of grades and ranks the difference between commissions in regular, provisional, volunteer, and militia services the chronology of military laws and executive decisions before, during, and after the war and the geographical breakdown of command structures. The book is illustrated with 84 new diagrams of all the insignias used throughout the war and with 129 portraits of the most important high commanders.

Recommended Reading: Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (912 pages). Description: Hailed as one of the greatest Civil War books, this exhaustive study is an abridgement of the original three-volume version. It is a history of the Army of Northern Virginia from the first shot fired to the surrender at Appomattox - but what makes this book unique is that it incorporates a series of biographies of more than 150 Confederate officers. The book discusses in depth all the tradeoffs that were being made politically and militarily by the South. Continued below.

Recommended Reading : Generals in Bronze: Interviewing the Commanders of the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: Generals in Bronze: Revealing interviews with the commanders of the Civil War. In the decades that followed the American Civil War, Artist James E. Kelly (1855-1933) conducted in-depth interviews with over forty Union Generals in an effort to accurately portray them in their greatest moment of glory. Kelly explained: "I had always felt a great lack of certain personal details. I made up my mind to ask from living officers every question I would have asked Washington or his generals had they posed for me, such as: What they considered the principal incidents in their career and particulars about costumes and surroundings." Continued below…

During one interview session with Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Kelly asked about the charge at Fort Damnation . Gen. Chamberlain acquiesced, but then added, "I don't see how you can show this in a picture." "Just tell me the facts," Kelly responded, "and I'll attend to the picture." And by recording those stirring facts, Kelly left us not only his wonderful art, but a truly unique picture of the lives of the great figures of the American Civil War. About the Author: William B. Styple has edited, co-authored, and authored several works on the Civil War. His book: "The Little Bugler" won the Young Readers' Award from the Civil War Round Table of New York. He is currently writing the biography of Gen. Phil Kearny.

Recommended Reading : Staff Officers in Gray: A Biographical Register of the Staff Officers in the Army of Northern Virginia (Hardcover) (360 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press) (September 3, 2008). Description: This indispensable Civil War reference profiles 2,300 staff officers in Robert E. Lee's famous Army of Northern Virginia . A typical entry includes the officer's full name, the date and place of his birth and death, details of his education and occupation, and a synopsis of his military record. Continued below.

Two appendixes provide a list of more than 3,000 staff officers who served in other armies of the Confederacy and complete rosters of known staff officers of each general in the Army of Northern Virginia.


John Cabell Breckinridge was born in Lexington, Kentucky on 16 January 1821. In 1841, he graduated from Transylvania University and was licensed to practice law, and Breckinridge became affiliated with the conservative US Democratic Party. He served in the US Army during the Mexican-American War, although his regiment was sent to occupy Mexico City he never saw combat. Gideon Johnson Pillow hired Breckinridge to prosecute the American general Winfield Scott, a political enemy of his, who had become a leader of the American Whig Party.

Confederate politician

Breckinridge in a CSA military uniform

In 1851, he was elected to the US House of Representatives, and he became James Buchanan's vice presidential candidate during the 1856 election. Breckinridge had little power during the Buchanan administration, but he decided to run for President of the United States in 1860 as the leader of the Southern Democrats, who had walked out of the Democratic National Convention to form their own party. Breckinridge supported secession from the Union after Abraham Lincoln and the US Republican Party were elected, as he supported slavery. Breckinridge left his senate seat to become a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, fighting at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, after which he was promoted to Major-General. After the defeats at Stone River and Missionary Ridge, the drunken Breckinridge was transferred to Virginia, fighting off the Union army during the Overland Campaign of 1864. In February 1865, Breckinridge became the Confederate Secretary of War, and he urged President Jefferson Davis to immediately surrender to the Union. After the war, he went into exile in Europe, but he returned in 1868 after President Andrew Johnson granted amnesty to all Confederate leaders. Breckinridge died during surgery to treat his war wounds in 1875, falling ill with cirrhosis.

John C. Breckinridge.

If it be true, as is now positively declared, that a loyal bullet has sent this traitor to eternity,every loyal heart will feel satisfaction and will not scruple to express it. Ordinarily, enmity is disarmed before death reproach is silenced, and even the sternest justice makes way for pity. The form that is shrouded is a sacred thing, and the grave itself is an altar on which every bitter feeling should be sacrificed forever. Human censorship does not presume to follow the spirit that has gone to its Eternal Judge and even the most rigid [. ]eels constrained to remember his own frailties, and forgive. But where Death strikes such a public enemy as this, it exacts no such silent obeisance. Personal feeling has no part in the matter. It is to be regarded purely as a public event and if it really has the shape of a public deliverance, it is just as right to welcome it as any other public blessing. It is just as proper, too, to speak the truth of such a criminal when dead as when living. Humanity has a just reckoning with guilt of this peculiar dye that can never be satisfied without posthumous infamy.

If ever there was a public man pledged to a career of fidelity and honor, it was JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE. He belonged to a family that had always been noted for patriotism, as well as for every other exalted quality as a young man he was personally associated with such great-souled patriots as CLAY and CRITTENDEN the people of his own State, in his early youth, took him to their confidence with a readiness seldom exhibited, and the people of the United States elevated him to the second office in their gift, at an age without precedent in American history. Every inherited sentiment, every implanted principle, every obligation of gratitude, forbade him to be unfaithful to his country but an unholy ambition ruined him. By nature frank, ardent, manly and eloquent, he fell a prey to the lures of higher preferment held out to him by the plotters against the peace of the country. They named him for the Presidency at Charleston, and he accepted the nomination, though it was given in violation of every principle which had ruled Democratic conventions, and was sure to divide and destroy his party. How far he was actually cognizant, at that time, of the secession plot, is not yet known. It may be that he was let into the full confidence of the prime conspirators, and fully understood that he should help them ruin if they could not help him rule. It may be that he was at first merely a pliant dupe in the hands of crafty knaves. In measuring his guilt this matters little. The time came when the treason of his supporters was no longer disguised and it was then his duty to have renounced them and denounced them. Had he been a true man, his indignation at the use the traitors had made of him, would have filled him with all the intenser hate of the treason itself and the very fact that he had done something unwittingly to further it, would have stimulated him to redoubled efforts afterward to thwart and foil it. Instead of this, he showed all sympathy with it just as long as he could do so in safety within the public councils, and then he betook himself bodily to the camp of the rebels. It might have been in weakness that he was first made a dupe but his subsequent career marked him one of the basest and wickedest of traitors.

We know that it is not easy to draw distinctions between the shades of this black treason against the Union. Yet we can recognize that some sort of charity may be given to such a man as Stonewall JACKSON, who bred to the doctrine of paramount State sovereignty, and conscientiously believed that it was his duty to obey the decision of his State expressed through constitutional forms. But no such extenuating plea can be advanced for JOHN C. BRECKENRIDGE. In one of his last speeches in the Senate, he declared that he was a son of Kentucky, and would follow her destiny. And yet, in spite of the fact that Kentucky, within a week afterward declared, by a majority of sixty thousand votes at the polls, that she would not go out of the Union, he went home and issued a manifesto, declaring that "there is no longer a Senate of the United States within the meaning and spirit of the Constitution the United States no longer exist the Union is dissolved" and that he was now about to "exchange, with proud satisfaction, a term of six years in the Senate of the United States for the musket of a soldier." This declared intention he made good by soon afterward, rallying his friends at Russellville, where a resolution was passed, in so many words, bidding "defiance both to the Federal and State Governments," and delegates were appointed to the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy. BRECKINRIDGE was soon afterward as thoroughly identified with the rebels as JEFF. DAVIS himself though in doing it he had to turn his back, not only upon the Union, but upon his own State, whose destiny he had solemnly protested that he would follow. Of all the accursed traitors of the land there has been none more heinously false than he -- none whose memory will live in darker ignominy. God grant the country a speedy deliverance of all such parricides.

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