Robert Toombs of Georgia stands as one of the most fiery and influential politicians of the nineteenth century. Sarcastic, charming, egotistical, and gracious, he rose quickly from state office to congressman to senator in the decades before the Civil War. Though he sought sectional reconciliation throughout the s and s, he eventually became one of the South's most Robert Toombs of Georgia stands as one of the most fiery and influential politicians of the nineteenth century.
Though he sought sectional reconciliation throughout the s and s, he eventually became one of the South's most ardent secessionists. This thorough biography chronicles his days as a student and young lawyer in Georgia, his boisterous political career, his appointment as the Confederacy's first Secretary of State, his unsuccessful stint as a Confederate general, and his role as a proud, unreconstructed rebel after the war. An exploration of Toombs' career reveals the political forces and missteps that drove him--and people like him--to want to secede from the United States.
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Robert Toombs () | New Georgia Encyclopedia
Sort order. McFarland added it Mar 13, Travis Stephenson marked it as to-read Oct 27, He was reelected to Congress in and served as governor of Georgia starting in He died in office in at the age of Alexander Stephens was born in Crawfordville, Georgia , on February 11, He grew up destitute and was raised by relatives after both his parents died by the time he was Stephens then attended Franklin College and graduated in After an unhappy stint as a schoolteacher, he studied law and then served as a successful defense lawyer in Crawfordville starting in Stephens first entered politics in , when he won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.
He served in this position until and was then elected to the Georgia Senate the following year.
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During this time Stephens fostered what would become a lifelong friendship with Robert Toombs, a fellow Georgia assemblyman. The two would remain political allies for the rest of their careers. In Stephens was elected to the U. House of Representatives.
He would go on to win reelection seven consecutive times, serving consistently until While he began his career as a Whig, he would later serve as both a Democrat and a Constitutional Unionist. A frail and sickly man who weighed less than pounds, Stephens was nevertheless a political force, and by the mids he became a leading Southern statesman.
The Civil Wars of a United States Senator and Confederate General
In he was attacked and stabbed multiple times by Francis H. Stephens attended a political rally only days later, using the attack to disparage the Democratic Party and encourage voters to elect the Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor.
While Stephens vehemently supported the institution of slavery, he was also committed to preserving the Union. Among other moderate measures, he was a supporter of the Compromise of , a package of bills that helped stave off Southern secession. At the same time, Stephens worked to maintain a balance between free and slave states as new territories were introduced into the Union. One of his greatest victories in this respect came in , when Stephens helped pass Senator Stephen A. This allowed settlers in these new territories to choose whether or not to permit slavery.
Stephens continued to argue against secession during the lead-up to the Civil War. Despite these misgivings, he was chosen to be the first vice president of the Confederate States of America during the Confederate Congress in February He then introduced the new government during a stump speech in Savannah on March 21, After the beginning of the Civil War in April , Stephens moved to the new Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia , and took part in administrative preparations for the war effort.
During this time he repeatedly advocated that the Confederacy delay large-scale military action in order to properly plan and equip itself for prolonged war. Stephens was unenthusiastic about his position as vice president, which granted him little power and largely relegated him to the role of passive observer over the Confederate Congress. Nevertheless, he was reelected to his post in February after his one-year provisional appointment expired. Starting in Stephens began the first of many arguments with President Jefferson Davis over the management of the war effort.
In September he published an unsigned letter in a Georgia newspaper condemning the policy of conscription, which gave the Confederate government the power to draft troops ahead of their state militias. He would later clash with Davis over both impressment and the Confederate combat strategy.
In July Stephens was sent to Washington , D. Anxious to end the war, Stephens also hoped to broach the subject of reaching a peace agreement. His journey only took him as far as Newport News, Virginia, where—following the crucial Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg—he was informed that the U. Stephens next redoubled his efforts to oppose Davis, who he believed had become too powerful. In March he gave a speech to the Georgia state legislature outlining his criticisms of Davis, and was denounced by many Southerners as a traitor.
His opposition to Davis became so pronounced that in late he received a letter from Union General William T. Stephens refused the invitation, but his relationship with Davis remained strained for the rest of the war.
Related Robert Toombs: The Civil Wars of a United States Senator and Confederate General
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