Bocock was born in Buckingham, Virginia at the Buckingham Courthouse. After being educated by tutors as a child, he attended Hamden-Sydney College, graduating in 1838. He studied law in college, and in 1840 he was admitted to the bar. In 1845 and 1846, he was the prosecuting attorney for Appomattox County in Virginia. From 1842 to 1844, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates.
In 1846, Bocock was elected as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives, and he served from 1847 to 1861. He served as the Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs for two of his terms. After the Civil War broke out and Virginia finally seceded, Bocock was elected to the Confederate States House of Representatives. Bocock was Speaker of the Confederate House of Representatives from 1862 to 1866, simultaneously acting as a Representative from Virginia. In the 1866 Presidential campaign, he announced that he wanted to run for Vice President. Alexander Stephens asked him to become his running mate after Robert Toombs declined to run and Howell Cobb announced that he would run for President himself. Stephens won the election, and Bocock became Vice President.
Bocock often disagreed with Stephens, as Bocock was more similar to Jefferson Davis in his political views. He opposed Bocock in the belief that the South would have done better to remain in the Union. Meanwhile, Bocock began forming an organized Confederate Democratic Party after the Federalist and Conservative Parties developed. He considered resigning or impeaching Stephens when Stephens publicly voiced his opinions.
On May 11, 1868, Stephens was shot by John Parker, and died that day. Bocock was sworn in just two days later in Montgomery, and spoke out in memory of Stephens, though he knew that he would have impeached Stephens had he not been assassinated. This was, however, the first time that the President of one of the two American countries had been assassinated, and spent his first year toughening criminal law and setting up a system for changing Presidents mid term. Bocock decided that if a Vice President takes office from the President, he may appoint new Cabinet members or change the title of a current Cabinet member if the Cabinet member and Congress both approve. He also set up a line of succession, putting the President pro tempore of the Senate before the Speaker of the House.
Bocock focused on the development of a functional criminal law system, and improved the court system's effectiveness. Bocock also created a system for not printing too much money, and made the Confederate Dollar bills feature the following people: Jefferson Davis (1), Slaves Working (5), Robert E. Lee (20), John C. Calhoun (100), and Howell Cobb (500). He also redesigned the coins, but the following different people on them: George Washington (1 cent), Alexander Stephens (5 cents), Thomas Bocock (10 cents), Christopher Memminger (25 cents), Andrew Jackson (50 cents), and John Breckinridge (Dollar Coin). He decided that these people had made the most major contributions to the founding of the Confederacy, though the people would slowly be replaced. Bocock was, along with Treasury Secretar Christopher Memminger, credited with backing the currency with precious metals. This was extremely important but disliked as it required some taxing.
Bocock was considered by Confederates as the first President effective at establishing the internal systems required for the country to run. He was considered a great President, and he determined that it would not be fair to run for another term.
Vice President: William Browne (approved in August 1869)
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
Post Presidency and Death
After Bocock determined he would not run for President again, he became the Democratic Party leader as well as a Senator from Virginia. Bocock was key in strengthening the party and served as a delegate to nearly every Democratic Presidential Convention from the end of his Presidency to his retirement. He finally retired in 1889, and returned to Virginia. In 1893, he died in Appomattox County, Virginia.