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John Cabell Breckinridge
Breckinridge
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States (Confederate States, 1861-1865; self-imposed exile 1865-1869)
Date of Birth: 1821
Date of Death: 1875
Cause of Death: liver failure
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician, Soldier, Industrialist
Spouse: Mary Burch
Children: Six
Political Party: Democratic Party
Military Branch: Confederate States Army
Turtledove Appearances:
"Lee at the Alamo"
POD: December 13, 1860
Type of Appearance: Oblique contemporary reference

John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 - May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer, a member of the Congress, and 14th Vice President of the United States. In 1860 he ran for President on the "Southern Democratic" ticket after many southern states' Democratic organizations refused to support the official party's nominee, Stephen Douglas of Illinois.

In the election returns, Breckinridge finished second in the Electoral College and third in the popular vote. Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the election and most of the states which Breckinridge had carried attempted to secede in protest. Breckinridge offered his services to the Confederate Army and eventually won the rank of major general. (On the same day that he ran for President, Breckinridge also ran for and won a Senate seat in Kentucky. He took the oath of office as a US Senator and did not formally resign his seat despite joining the Confederate cause. In December 1861 he was expelled from the Senate by resolution as punishment for supporting the nation's enemies in violation of the Senatorial oath of office.)

Breckinridge served with the Army of Tennessee through the Chattanooga campaign, and joined a long list of Confederate generals who found it difficult to serve alongside Braxton Bragg. In 1864 he was transferred to the Eastern Theater where he commanded Rebel forces in the Shenandoah Valley where he won the Battle of New Market. His command was soon sent to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia in time for the Battle of Cold Harbor. He also took part in Jubal Early's raid on Washington, DC, the final Confederate incursion into loyal territory.

During the Siege of Petersburg, Breckinridge was made Secretary of War for the Confederate government. When the Army of the Potomac entered Richmond in 1865, Breckenridge ensured that the archives of the Confederate government and military were turned over to the Federals so that historians would one day benefit from intact primary sources. Breckinridge then escorted Jefferson Davis on his flight into the Deep South, encouraging Davis to surrender since the cause was lost and further bloodshed would serve no purpose. The two eventually became separated during their travels through the chaotic countryside.

In 1865 Breckinridge began four years of self-imposed exile out of fear that he would be tried for treason, a capital offense. In 1869 he returned to the US after having been granted amnesty. He resumed the practice of law and also began a career as a railroad executive. He mostly retired from politics but did attempt to discourage Confederate veterans from joining the Ku Klux Klan. He died of cirrhosis of the liver on May 17, 1875.

John Breckinridge in "Lee at the Alamo"Edit

In the face of Benjamin McCulloch's appeals to Robert E. Lee's Southern identity to support the right of Texas to secede from the Union before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President, Lee privately reflected that he would have preferred for any of Lincoln's three opponents (Stephen Douglas, John Breckinridge, or John Bell) to have won the election. Nevertheless, he was determined to perform his duty to the United States government no matter who headed it.

Literary noteEdit

None of the three losing candidates' names are used in this story.

Political offices
(OTL)
Preceded by
Office vacant
last was
William Rufus DeVane King
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861
Succeeded by
Hannibal Hamlin
Preceded by
John J. Crittenden
United States Senator (Class 3) from Kentucky
March 4– December 4, 1861
Succeeded by
Garrett Davis
Preceded by
Charles Morehead
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 8th congressional district
March 4, 1851 – March 4, 1855
Succeeded by
Alexander Keith Marshall
Preceded by
James Seddon
Confederate States Secretary of War
February 6 – May 10, 1865
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Party political offices
(OTL)
Preceded by
James Buchanan
as Democratic Party candidate
Southern Democratic Party presidential candidate²
1860 (lost)
Succeeded by
George McClellan
as Democratic Party candidate
Preceded by
William Rufus DeVane King
Democratic Party Vice Presidential candidate
1856 (won)
Succeeded by
Herschel Vespasian Johnson
Joseph Lane¹
Notes and references
1. The Democratic party split in 1860, producing two vice presidential candidates. Johnson was nominated by Northern Democrats; Lane was nominated by Southern Democrats.


2. The Democratic party split in 1860, producing two presidential candidates. Breckinridge was nominated by Southern Democrats; Stephen A. Douglas was nominated by Northern Democrats.

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