Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography


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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. 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 Political realities soon forced the Union Democrats in the party to affiliate once more with the national party, and by mid, 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 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 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 He said:.

Alexander H. Stephens Papers

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.

In , 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 presidential campaign, Stephens, who came to be known as the sage of Liberty Hall , [19] 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 [20] but asserted the right to secede if the federal government continued allowing northern states to nullify the Fugitive Slave Law with "personal liberty laws. 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.

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. 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 , Stephens first publicly expressed his opposition to the Davis administration. In mid, 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.


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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, , Stephens delivered a speech [25] to the Georgia Legislature that was widely reported in both the North and the South.

Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography by Thomas E. Schott

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, , 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 s. 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, Stephens published a U. Stephens was subsequently re-elected to the 8th District as an Independent Democrat in , , and , and as a Democrat again in He served in the 43rd through 47th Congresses, from December 1, , until his resignation on November 4, On that date, he was elected and took office as Governor of Georgia.

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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. A collection of Stephens's personal papers has been digitized and is available at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

Alexander H Stephens

A sculpture of Stephens appears in the National Statuary Hall Collection , representing one of two figures from Georgia history, the other being Crawford W. There have been calls to replace Stephens' sculpture in the collection with that of another Georgian, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the American surgeon, see Alexander Hodgdon Stevens.

Vice President of the Confederate States. Photograph by Julian Vannerson , It was filled to stand for 'Hamilton' out of respect for Alexander Hamilton Webster, a childhood mentor. July 22, Archived from the original on March 5, Retrieved March 5, Stephens, was not a big fan of his superior. August 30, Retrieved November 10, August 13, New York: Doubleday, , p.

Stephens, pp. Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail.


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  • Alexander H. Stephens letter, August 3 - Digital Library of Georgia.

Retrieved March 10, Stephens, p. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved June 1, Stephens elected to House of Representatives, Milledgeville, Georgia, ". August 18, The Assertions of a Secessionist.

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New York: Loyal Publication Society. The Confederate records of the State of Georgia, Volume 1.

Alexander H Stephens of Georgia A Biography Southern Biography Series

Atlanta, GA: C. Byrd publishing. Retrieved July 22, University of Georgia Libraries. Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia. January Civil War Times.

Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography

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