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Alexander Stephens
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Alexander Stephens

Alexander Hamilton Stephens (February 11, 1812 - March 4, 1883) was Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Stephens was born near Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia. He grew up poor, and acquired his education through the help of friends. He graduated from the University of Georgia at Athens in 1832.

He taught school, studied law, then became a member of the State House of Representatives from 1836 - 1841. He served in the State Senate in 1842, then was elected as a Whig to the United States House of Representatives to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mark A. Cooper. He was reelected to the Twenty-ninth through Thirty-first Congresses, as a Unionist to the Thirty-second Congress, as a Whig to the Thirty-third Congress and as a Democrat to the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth Congresses, serving October 2, 1843 to March 3, 1859.

Stephens did not run for renomination in 1858. In 1861 he served as a Delegate to the Georgia convention that voted to secede from the United States. He was elected to the Confederate Congress, and was chosen by the Congress as Vice President of the provisional government. He was then elected Vice President of the Confederacy.

Stephens suffered from illness and disease throughout his life, and weighed only 96 pounds. While his voice was described as shrill and unpleasant, at the beginning of the Civil War, a northern newspaper described him as "The Strongest Man in the South" due to his intelligence, judgment, and eloquence.

In 1865 he served as one of the commissioners representing the Confederacy at the Hampton Roads conference which attempted to come to a peaceful ending to the Civil War.

After the war he was imprisoned in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, for five months, until October 1865. In 1866 he was elected to the United States Senate by the first legislature convened under the new State constitution, but did not present his credentials, as the State had not been readmitted to the Union. He was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-third Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ambrose R. Wright, and was reelected to the Forty-fourth and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from December 1, 1873 until his resignation on November 4, 1882.

Stephens was elected Governor of Georgia in 1882 and served until his death in Atlanta. He was interred in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, then reinterred on his estate, "Liberty Hall," near Crawfordville.

Reference:

Harper's Weekly, February 23, 1861 Biography on Stephens