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James Alexander Seddon

businessman , congressman , lawyer , member , planter

James Seddon, American congressman, Confederate secretary of war. member United States House of Representatives from Virginia, 29th, 31st congresses, 1845-1847, 49-51, supported John Calhoun; member commission on resolutions Peace Convention, Washington, District of Columbia, 1861, introduced minority report which recognized right of peaceful secession.

Background

SEDDON, James Alexander was born on July 13, 1815 in Falmouth, Virginia, United States, United States. Son of the merchant-banker Thomas Seddon and his wife Susan (Alexander).

Education

Graduate Law School, University of Virginia, 1835.

Career

He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1835 and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1838. Seddon was an ardent follower of John C. Calhoun. He practiced law in Richmond, where he became a well- known lawyer.

He married Sarah Bruce, daughter of a wealthy planter, in 1845. In 1845-1847 and 1849-1851, he served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, after which he retired to his plantation in Goochland County, Virginia. As a delegate to the peace convention at Washington in 1861, he favored secession.

He was also a Virginia delegate to the provisional Confederate Congress at Richmond. From November 21, 1862, to February 16, 1865, Seddon was secretary of war in the Davis cabinet. He saw the war in large terms and devised much of the Confederates’ offensive strategy of concentration and total war.

He was successful at decentralizing authority within the army, and he created the Department of the West. However, he proved to be a poor administrator, unable to work with the Commissary Department or to coordinate his ideas and policies with those of the president. Early in 1865, he resigned because of illness and retired to his plantation.

After the war, he considered his life a failure. He was imprisoned but was later released. He went into business in Richmond and, for a while, supported the Conservate party of Virginia.

Religion

"Peculiar institution" of slavery was not only expedient but also ordained by God and upheld in Holy Scripture.

Politics

Stands for preserving slavery, states' rights, and political liberty for whites. Every individual state is sovereign, even to the point of secession.

Membership

Member United States House of Representatives from Virginia, 29th, 31st congresses, 1845-1847, 49-51, supported John Calhoun. Member commission on resolutions Peace Convention, Washington, District of Columbia, 1861, introduced minority report which recognized right of peaceful secession.

Connections

Married Sarah Bruce, 1845.

father:
Thomas Seddon

mother:
Susan (Pearson) Seddon

spouse:
Sarah Bruce