BRECKINRIDGE, John Cabell

1821–1875

Biography

BRECKINRIDGE, John Cabell, (grandson of John Breckinridge, father of Clifton Rodes Breckinridge, and cousin of Henry Donnel Foster), a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky and a Vice President of the United States; born at 'Cabell's Dale,' near Lexington, Ky., January 16, 1821; attended Pisgah Academy, Woodford County, Ky.; graduated from Centre College, Danville, Ky., in 1838; later attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University); studied law in the Transylvania Institute, Lexington, Ky.; admitted to the bar in 1840; moved to Burlington, Iowa, but soon returned and began practice in Lexington, Ky.; major of the Third Kentucky Volunteers during the Mexican War in 1847 and 1848; member, State house of representatives 1849; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses (March 4, 1851-March 3, 1855); was not a candidate for renomination in 1854; was tendered the mission to Spain by President Franklin Pierce, but declined; elected Vice President of the United States in 1856 on the Democratic ticket with James Buchanan as President; unsuccessful candidate for President in 1860; elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1861, to December 4, 1861, when he was expelled for support of the rebellion; entered the Confederate Army during the Civil War as brigadier general and soon became a major general; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of the Confederate States from January until April 1865; resided in Europe until 1868; returned to Lexington, Ky., and resumed the practice of law; vice president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington Big Sandy Railroad Co.; died in Lexington, Ky., May 17, 1875; interment in Lexington Cemetery.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn, NY
Papers: July 10, 1860. 1 letter.

Chicago Historical Society

Chicago, IL
Papers: 1860s. Ca. 200 items. Letters and telegrams to and from General Breckinridge relating to the Confederacy.

Duke University
Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: In Confederate States of America papers, 1821-1912.

Filson Club Historical Society

Louisville, KY
Papers: Ca. 1846-1875. .25 foot. Miscellaneous papers, including personal, business, and congressional papers, photographs, and portraits.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in the Preston family papers-Davie collection; Johnston family papers, 1798-1943; and 20 items (1847-1874) in Breckinridge-Marshall family papers, 1755-1869. Finding aid.

Georgia Historical Society

Savannah, GA
Papers: Letters in James Moore Wayne papers, 1848-1863; and references in Fraser-Couper papers, 1810-1876. Finding aid.

Rutherford B. Hayes Library

Fremont, OH
Papers: August 28, 1860-August 15, 1867. 1 item. Typescript of diary.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in the James Moore Swank papers, 1785-1898; James Gibson papers, 1712-1846; and James Buchanan papers, 1775-1868.

Kentucky Historical Society

Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1857. 1 letter. Also portrait.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: In Breckinridge family papers, 1752-1965. 263 linear feet. Includes papers relating to his work in Congress and his Lexington, KY law practice and letters from constituents. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in Andrew and John White Stevenson family papers, 1756-1882; and Louis Eller Asher autograph collection, 1757-1918. Finding aid.

Newberry Library

Chicago, IL
Papers: Correspondence in Daniel Stevens Dickinson papers, 1799-1892. Finding aid.

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Nashville, TN
Papers: Correspondence in George Washington Gordon papers, 1791-1946, on microfilm. Finding aid.

University of Kentucky Libraries
Special Collections and Archives

Lexington, KY
Papers: 20 items (1853-1875) in various collections.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: In the John Taylor Wood papers, 1858-1915. Includes typed copy of a brief narrative by General Breckinridge, who was with Wood on the escape to Cuba.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in the Thomas S. Bocock papers, 1760-1897.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections. Finding aid.
Research Libraries Information Network In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL; and Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, New Haven, CT.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Breckinridge, John C. "A Rebel Leader's Flight to Cuba." Civil War Times Illustrated 6 (June 1967): 4-10.

Davis, William C. "John C. Breckinridge." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 85 (Summer 1987): 197-212.

___. "John C. Breckinridge--a Profile." Civil War Times Illustrated 6 (June 1967): 11-18.

___. Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974.

Harrison, Lowell H. "John C. Breckinridge: Nationalist, Confederate, Kentuckian." Filson Club History Quarterly 47 (April 1973): 125-44.

Heck, Frank H. "John C. Breckinridge in the Crisis of 1860-1861." Journal of Southern History 21 (August 1955): 316-46.

___. Proud Kentuckian, John C. Breckinridge, 1821-1875. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1976.

Kentucky General Assembly. Speeches and Proceedings upon the announcement of the death of Hon. John C. Breckinridge in the Senate and House of Representatives of Kentucky, Friday and Saturday, January 7 and 22d, 1876. Frankfort: Kentucky Yoeman Office, 1876.

Klotter, James C. The Breckinridges of Kentucky, 1760-1981. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Melzer, Dorothy Garrett. "Mr. Breckinridge Accepts." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 56 (July 1958): 217-32.

O'Connor, John. "John Cabell Breckinridge's Personal Secession: A Rhetorical Insight." Filson Club History Quarterly 43 (October 1969): 345-52.

Stillwell, Lucille. John Cabell Breckinridge. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers, 1936.

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