The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
ĽName: Alexander Hamilton Stephens

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Alexander Stephens was born near Crawfordsville, Georgia, and was orphaned as a child. He graduated from Franklin College in 1832 and was admitted to the bar in 1834. As a Whig, he served in the Georgia state house, 1834-1841, was elected to the state senate in 1842, and served as a U. S. Representative, 1843-1859. A proponent of state sovereignty and a defender of slavery, Stephens favored the annexation of Texas, played a leading role in the Compromise of 1850, and supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. After the Whig party collapsed, he joined the Democrats and backed Douglas in the presidential election of 1860. Toombs, along with fellow-Georgians Howell Cobb and Robert Toombs, formed a triumvirate opposing Southern secession.

After Lincoln’s election in 1860, Cobb and Toombs endorsed secession, but Stephens stood firm against it at the Georgia state convention. When the delegates voted to secede, however, Stephens acquiesced and was later elected Vice President of the Confederacy. He was a leader of the moderate faction of Confederates and an advocate of a peaceful resolution of the war. After the war, he was imprisoned in Boston for five months in 1865, then released, whereupon Georgians reelected him to the U. S. Senate under the terms of President Johnson’s lenient Reconstruction plan. Radical Republicans, however, refused to recognize the new state governments in the South and Stephens was not allowed to take his seat. With the formal end of Reconstruction, he returned to Congress, serving in the House from 1877 until 1882, when he was elected Governor of Georgia. He was the author of A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States  (1868-70). He died in Atlanta, Georgia.

Robert C. Kennedy, HarpWeek

Sources consulted: Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History; Mark Boatner, Civil War Dictionary


Alexander Hamilton Stephens
(11 February 1812 - 4 March 1883)
Source:  Harper's Weekly

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