John C. Breckinridge
Featured Character – 1860
John C. Breckinridge was born near Lexington, Kentucky on January 21, 1821 and began his education in law as a young man, but entered military service upon the outbreak of the Mexican War. When he returned, he was elected to the Kentucky Congress and to the United States Congress in 1851. Five years later he was elected Vice President and eventually President of the Senate, becoming the youngest to have held that office up to that point. He was elected to the Senate, but was formally expelled for disloyalty after publishing a letter stating why he went over to the Confederates during the last of the Session in July 1861. After Fort Sumter, Breckinridge urged Kentucky to secede, and when the state did leave the Union, he joined the Confederate cause there as Major General. Holding this rank he saw action at the Battle of Stone Creek, the federal garrison at Baton Rouge, and in East Tennessee and Virginia at Wilderness, Vicksburg, and the Shenandoah Valley campaigns. Though it was thought by the public that his military career was not a remarkable one, he raised to the rank of Confederate Secretary of War in 1865. After the war, Breckinridge fled to England for three years before he returned to his practice of law in Kentucky. He died in May 1875.