YANCEY, William Lowndes

YANCEY, William Lowndes
Engraving, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
1814–1863

Biography

YANCEY, William Lowndes, (uncle of Joseph Haynsworth Earle), a Representative from Alabama; born at the Falls of the Ogeechee, Warren County, Ga., August 10, 1814; attended preparatory school and Williams College, Williamstown, Mass.; studied law in Sparta, Ga., was admitted to the bar in 1834 and commenced practice in Greenville, S.C.; moved to Cahawba, Ala., in 1836; temporarily abandoned the practice of law and became a cotton planter; editor of the Cahawba Democrat and the Cahawba Gazette; moved to Wetumpka, Ala., in 1839 and resumed the practice of law; member of the State house of representatives in 1841; served in the State senate in 1843; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Dixon H. Lewis; reelected to the Twenty-ninth Congress and served from December 2, 1844, to September 1, 1846, when he resigned; moved to Montgomery, Ala., in 1846; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1848, 1856, and 1860; member of the State constitutional convention which convened in Montgomery January 7, 1861; appointed chairman of the commission sent to Europe in 1861 to present the Confederate cause to the Governments of England and France; elected to the first Confederate States Senate February 21, 1862; died at his plantation home, near Mongtomery, Ala., July 26, 1863; interment in Oakwood Cemetery.

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

[ Top ]

External Research Collections

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Montgomery, AL
Papers: 1834-1841, 2.33 cubic feet. The papers of William Lowndes Yancey contain personal and political correspondence, notes, and printed materials including speeches, pamphlets, periodicals, clippings and scrapbooks, a copybook and typescripts. Also included is a diary; notebooks and biographical material. The bulk of the collection, and the most valuable materials, consist of the correspondence, notes and speeches. Among the many prominent correspondents are Jefferson Davis, Earl Russell, Robert Toombs, South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens and Dixon H. Lewis. The correspondence, notes and speeches reflect Yancey's stand on contemporary issues such as states rights, secession, the Democratic party platform, Civil War, and European recognition of the Confederacy. The clippings and scrapbooks contain articles from many local, regional and national newspapers, and many are reprints of Yancey's speeches and letters. The typescripts are copies of various letters, notes, speeches and articles prepared for publication in the Alabama Quarterly. The diary, although very brief, records Yancey's arrival in Europe. The bulk of the biographical materials and many of the other papers appear to have possibly been gathered by Yancey's biographer, John Witherspoon DuBose.
Papers: In the Alabama Governor (1857-1861 : A.B. Moore) Pardons, Paroles, and Clemency Files, 1857-1861, 1 cubic foot. The records include a letter from William Lowndes Yancey requesting a pardon for Seaborn Flanigan, convicted of stealing a mule.
Papers: In the Alabama Governor (1861-1863 : Shorter) Administrative Files, 1861-1863, 3 cubic feet. Correspondents include William Lowndes Yancey.
Papers: In the Alabama Hospitals in Richmond, Va. Administrative Files, ca. 1861-1905, 0.7 cubic foot. Correspondents include William Lowndes Yancey.
Papers: In the John Witherspoon DuBose Papers, 1857-1917, 6 cubic feet. The papers include discussions Convict Dept. which includes a discussion of DuBose's historical research and publications, particularly his biography of William Lowndes Yancey.
Papers: In the William Henry Mitchell Papers, 1840-1870, 2 folders. Includes three letters, 1846, 1848 and 1859, from William L. Yancey to Mitchell which discuss religion and politics.
Papers: In the Dixon Hall Lewis Letters and biographical sketch, 1846-1848, 1 folder. Includes a letter from Dixon Lewis to William Lowndes Yancey, 1848 June 29, regarding their friendship and political policy toward states rights, the Democratic Party and the Baltimore Platform, slavery, the admission of Calif., and other issues.

Dartmouth College
Rauner Special Collections Library

Hanover, NH
Papers: 1850, 1 letter. A letter from William Yancey to Daniel Webster written on August 1, 1850. In the letter, William Yancey writes about an address he has written on the life of Calhoun which shows that his views in relation to Webster have undergone a great change.

Duke University
William R. Perkins Library Special Collections Department

Durham, NC
Papers: 1846, 2 letters. Political correspondence of William Lowndes Yancey.

The Filson Historical Society

Louisville, KY
Papers: 1858, 1 item. A letter from William Yancey to James Slaughter written on June 15, 1858. In the letter, William Yancey writes about the despairing of political solutions to the nation's divisions and advocating the creation of "committees of safety all over the cotton states."

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: 1838, 1 item. A letter from from William Yancey to his brother, Ben C. Yancey, written on September 8, 1838. In the letter, William Yancey describes his duel with Dr. Robinson Earle in Greenville, South Carolina, the circumstances leading up to it, and Yancey's arrest afterwards.
[ Top ]

Bibliography / Further Reading

Draughon, Ralph Brown, Jr. "William Loundes Yancey: From Unionist to Secessionist 1814-1852." Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1968.

___. "The Young Manhood of William L. Yancey." Alabama Review 19 (January 1966): 28-40.

Dubose, John Witherspoon. The Life and Times of William Lowndes Yancey. A History of Political Parties in the United States, from 1834 to 1864. 2 vols. Birmingham, Ala.: Roberts and Son, 1892. Reprint, New York: P. Smith, 1942.

Eaton, Clement. "The Voice of Emotion." The Mind of the Old South. Rev. ed. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967), 267-87.

Freshley, Dwight L. "Vacillation and Venom: Andrew Johnson versus William L. Yancey." Southern Speech Journal 28 (Winter 1962): 98-108.

Golden, James L. "Hilliard vs. Yancey: Prelude to the Civil War." Quarterly Journal of Speech 42 (February 1956): 35-44.

McMillan, Malcolm C. "William L. Yancey and the Historians: One Hundred Years." Alabama Review 20 (July 1967): 163-86.

Mellen, George F. "Henry W. Hilliard and William L. Yancey." Sewanee Review 17 (January 1909): 32-50.

Mitchell, Rexford S. "William Lowndes Yancey: Orator of Southern Constitutional Rights." Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1937.

Petrie, George. What Will Be the Final Estimate of Yancey? Montgomery, Ala.: N.p., 1904.

Venable, Austin L. "The Public Career of William Lowndes Yancey." Alabama Review 16 (July 1963): 200-12.

___. "The Role of William L. Yancey in the Secession Movement." Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1937. Nashville: Privately printed by the Joint University Libraries, 1945.

___. The Role of William L. Yancey in the Secession Movement. [Nashville]: N.p., 1945.

___. "William L. Yancey's Transition from Unionism to State Rights." Journal of Southern History 10 (August 1944): 331-42.

Walther, Eric H. "We Shall Fire the Southern Heart: William Lowndes Yancey." In The Fire-Eaters, pp. 48-92. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.

___. William Lowndes Yancey and The Coming of The Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Yancey, William Lowndes. An address on the life and character of John Caldwell Calhoun. Montgomery: Advertiser and Gazette Print, 1850.

___. The Issues Involved in the Presidential Contest. Frankfort, Ky.: Printed at the Yeoman Office, 1860.

___. Speech of the Hon. William L. Yancey, of Alabama, delivered in the National Democratic convention, Charleston, April 28th, 1860. With the Protest of the Alabama delegation . Charleston: Walker, Evans and Company, 1860.

___. Speech of Mr. Yancey ... on the Oregon question. Washington: N.p., 1846.

[ Top ]