1902 Encyclopedia > Alexander Hamilton Stephens

Alexander Hamilton Stephens
American statesman

ALEXANDER HAMILTON STEPHENS, (1812-1883), American statesman, was born in Georgia, February 11, 1812. In spite of many difficulties imposed by poverty and ill-health, he became a lawyer and politician of great reputation and popularity. He was one of the Whig leaders of his State until about 1850, and then drifted into the Democratic party through the rising discussions of slavery, serving in Congress from 1843 until 1859. In 1860 he opposed secession warmly; but when his State had seceded he "followed his State," and was elected vice-president of the Confederate States. Whatever there was of opposition to the despotic tendencies of Jefferson Davis gathered around Stephens as a centre; and the vice-president was never an influential member of the Confederate administration. His popularity in Georgia was unbounded, and he was elected representative in Congress in 1877-82, and governor, 1882-83, dying in office. In person he was small and extremely emaciated, seldom weighing more than 90 pounds, and always in delicate health; but his powers as an orator were remarkable.

Cleveland's A. H. Stephens in Public and Private and Johnston and Browne's Life of A. H. Stephens are the main authorities for Stephens's life. His political opinions are fully given in his work, The War between the States.

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