Admitted to Georgia bar, 1845. Member Georgia Senate, 1849. Franklin Pierce presidential elector, 1852.
Judge Blue Ridge Circuit, 1855. Governor Georgia (Democrat), 1857-1865, extreme states rights advocate, often quarrelled with Jefferson Davis over powers of central government, opposed conscription and suspension of habeas corpus. Imprisoned for short time, 1865, pardoned by President Andrew Jackson.
Became a Republican, urged compliance with Congressional reconstruction rule. Chief justice Supreme Court Georgia, 1868-1870. President Western & Atlantic R.R., 1870-1894.
Member United States Senate (Democrat) from Georgia, 1881-1891.