Alexander H. Stephens
American lawyer and politicianDied when: 71 years 21 days (852 months)
Star Sign: Aquarius
Alexander Hamilton Stephens (February 11, 1812 – March 4, 1883) was an American politician who served as the vice president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and later as the 50th governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883.
A member of the Democratic Party, he represented the state of Georgia in the United States House of Representatives before and after the Civil War prior to becoming governor.
Stephens attended Franklin College and established a legal practice in his home town of Crawfordville, Georgia.After serving in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly, he won election to Congress, taking his seat in 1843.
He became a leading Southern Whig and strongly opposed the Mexican–American War.After the war, Stephens was a prominent supporter of the Compromise of 1850 and helped draft the Georgia Platform, which opposed secession.
A proponent of the expansion of slavery into the territories, Stephens also helped pass the Kansas–Nebraska Act.As the Whig Party collapsed in the 1850s, Stephens eventually joined the Democratic Party and worked with President James Buchanan to admit Kansas as a state under the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution (which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in a referendum in that state).
Stephens declined to seek re-election in 1858, but continued to publicly advocate against secession.After Georgia and other Southern states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, Stephens was elected as the Confederate Vice President.
Stephens's Cornerstone Speech of March 1861 defended slavery, though after the war he distanced himself from his earlier sentiments.In the course of the war, he became increasingly critical of President Jefferson Davis's policies, especially Confederate conscription and the suspension of habeas corpus.
In February 1865, he was one of the commissioners who met with Abraham Lincoln at the abortive Hampton Roads Conference to discuss peace terms.
After the war, Stephens was imprisoned until October 1865.The following year, the Georgia legislature elected Stephens to the United States Senate, but the Senate declined to seat him due to his role in the Civil War.
He won election to the House of Representatives in 1873 and held that office until 1882, when he resigned from Congress to become governor of Georgia.
Stephens served as governor until his death in March 1883.