Legislator; born in Washington, Wilkes co., Ga.
, July 2, 1810; graduated at Union College, Schenectady, N. Y.
, in 1828; studied law at the University of Virginia; practised until elected to Congress in 1845; was a captain under General Scott
in the Creek
War; was several years a member of the Georgia legislature; and remained in Congress until 1853, when he became United States Senator
He was re-elected in 1859.
In the Senate, on Jan. 7, 1861, following a patriotic speech by Senator Crittenden
, of Kentucky
, he said: “The abolitionists have for long years been sowing dragons' teeth, and they have finally got a crop of armed men. The Union, sir, is dissolved.
That is a fixed fact lying in the way of this discussion, and men may as well hear it. One of your confederates (South Carolina
) has already wisely, bravely, boldly, met the public danger
and confronted it. She is only ahead and beyond any of her sisters because of her greater facility of action.
The great majority of those sister States under like circumstances consider her cause as their cause.”
He then declared that “the South
” was prepared for the arbitrament of the sword.
“Now, sir,” he said, “you
may see the glitter of the bayonet and hear the tramp of armed men from your capital to the Rio Grande
This was uttered before any State convention excepting that of South Carolina
had passed an ordinance of secession.
then defined his own position.
“I believe,” he said, “for all the acts which the Republican party call treason and rebellion there stands before them as good a traitor and as good a rebel as ever descended from Revolutionary loins.”
He demanded the right of going into all Territories with slaves as property, and that property to be protected by the national government.
“You say no,” he said; “you and the Senate say No; the House
says No; and throughout the length and breadth of your whole conspiracy against the Constitution
there is one shout of No!
It is the price of my allegiance.
Withhold it, and you can't get my obedience.
There is the philosophy of the armed men that have sprung up in this country; and I had rather see the population of my own, my native land, beneath the sod than that they should support for one hour such a government.”
He was expelled from the Senate on March 14, 1861; became a member of the Confederate convention at Montgomery
in February, 1861; was made Secretary of State
of the provisional government then established; and left the office in September and became a brigadiergeneral in the Confederate army.
He died in Washington, Ga.
, Dec. 15, 1885.
See Stephens, Alexander H