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Alexander Stephens was a Georgia politician. He was the first Vice President of the Confederacy, second President of the Confederacy, and first Confederate President to be assassinated.
Alexander Stephens was born in Crawfordville, Georgia in 1812. He grew up poor after his father and stepmother died. He then lived with his uncle, General Grier, who had a very large library at his house. He has mentored by a minister before attending Franklin College in Athens (Now University of Georgia), graduating in 1832. Stephens never had good health, often staying around 100 pounds at the height of 5 feet 7 inches. However, his wealth increased and he began getting slaves. In 1836, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and then in 1842, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate.
From 1843 to 1859, Stephens served as a Representative for Georgia, originally elected to fill a vacancy. He ran as a Whig, Unionist, and Democrats at different times. He slowly defended slavery more and more, though he did not want the south to secede. He opposed the Mexican-American War. In a fit of rage, judge Francis Cone stabbed Stephens repeatedly, nearly killing him, only able to survive because others intervened. He then returned to Crawforville to recover from his wounds.
Stephens campaigned for the election of Zachary Taylor in 1848, but was mad when Taylor did not handle the Compromise of 1850 the way Stephens wanted him to, and he was key in writing the Georgia Platform regarding the Compromise of 1850. He was political and personal friends with fellow Georgia Representative Robert Toombs. He formed the Constitutional Union Party with Toombs and Howell Cobb. However, this party soon fell apart, and Stephens became a democrat. He did not seek reelection in 1848.
When states began to secede, Stephens was elected to the Confederate Congress, and chosen as its vice President. He was chosen as Vice President of the Confederacy in February 1861. On March 21, 1861, he gave his Cornerstone Speech in Savannah, Georgia. After the war started, he revealed his dissatisfaction with Jefferson Davis, especially his war strategy and suspension of habeas corpus. He promoted peace between the two sides, and was in favor of the Union. As the war continued, Stephens continued to believe that the war should end and that the Union should remain, but he voiced this opinion less and less as the South became more and more victorious. Stephens was actually against much of the Treaty of Trenton as he felt that the Confederacy would not be able to be self dependent. When the war ended, he also disliked moving the capital from the border with the Union because he said that it would just cause less Diplomacy. He finally came to terms with the fact that the confederacy was independent, and decided to run for President in 1866 to fix what he could. Since there were no parties established yet, he simply was able to choose his running mate. Robert Toombs declined and Howell Cobb decided to run himself. He decided on Thomas Bocock as his running mate.
Presidency and Assassination
Stephens won the Election of 1866. In 1867, Stephens took office in Montgomery, Alabama. The new capital building had been completed just in time for his administration, but the Presidential residency had not yet. Upon entering office, Stephens nearly immediately visited Washington to meet with Salmon P. Chase and to speak with his old friend, Abraham Lincoln. He asked Chase to stop the embargoes and for an exchange of prisoners of war. Chase would not stop his embargoes but he agreed to exchange prisoners of war.
Stephens returned to Montgomery, and appointed his cabinet. He ordered his Secretary of War, Judah Benjamin, and his secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory to build schools for training soldiers, resembling West point. He also said that the Navy needed to increase production of ships as blockades were a key disadvantage for the South in the war. He asked his Secretary of the Treasury, Christopher Memminger, to made a central mint for banknotes and to make the bills tougher to counterfeit.
At a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, Stephens voiced his concern for the country's welfare and said that he believes that the Confederacy would have been better off not seceding. The nation began to hate him for this, and the press was all over him. While on his way from the temporary Presidential Residence to the Capitol Building on May 11, 1868, Stephens was shot by John Parker, and died that day. Parker was found guilty of assassinating the President, treason, and murder and was hanged. Afterwards, Thomas Bocock became the third President of the Confederate States. However, many people were happy when they found out that Stephens was no longer President.
Vice President: Thomas Bocock
Speaker of the House of Representatives: Howell Cobb
Secretary of War: Judah Benjamin
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Mallory
Secretary of the Treasury: Christopher Memminger
Secretary of State: Robert Toombs
Attorney General: Robert W. Johnson
President pro tempore of the Senate: Robert W. Barnwell