BRECKINRIDGE, John Cabell (1821-1875)
Senate Years of Service: 1861-1861

BRECKINRIDGE, JOHN CABELL, (grandson of John Breckinridge, father of Clifton Rodes Breckinridge, and cousin of Henry Donnel Foster), a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky and a Vice President of the United States; born at 'Cabell's Dale,' near Lexington, Ky., January 16, 1821; attended Pisgah Academy, Woodford County, Ky.; graduated from Centre College, Danville, Ky., in 1838; later attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University); studied law in the Transylvania Institute, Lexington, Ky.; admitted to the bar in 1840; moved to Burlington, Iowa, but soon returned and began practice in Lexington, Ky.; major of the Third Kentucky Volunteers during the Mexican War in 1847 and 1848; member, State house of representatives 1849; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses (March 4, 1851-March 3, 1855); was not a candidate for renomination in 1854; was tendered the mission to Spain by President Franklin Pierce, but declined; elected Vice President of the United States in 1856 on the Democratic ticket with James Buchanan as President; unsuccessful candidate for President in 1860; elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1861, to December 4, 1861, when he was expelled for support of the rebellion; entered the Confederate Army during the Civil War as brigadier general and soon became a major general; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of the Confederate States from January until April 1865; resided in Europe until 1868; returned to Lexington, Ky., and resumed the practice of law; vice president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington Big Sandy Railroad Co.; died in Lexington, Ky., May 17, 1875; interment in Lexington Cemetery.

Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn, NY
Papers: July 10, 1860. 1 letter.

Chicago Historical Society
Chicago, IL
Papers: 1860s. Ca. 200 items. Letters and telegrams to and from General Breckinridge relating to the Confederacy.

Duke University
Special Collections Library
Durham, NC
Papers: In Confederate States of America papers, 1821-1912.

Filson Club Historical Society
Louisville, KY
Papers: Ca. 1846-1875. .25 foot. Miscellaneous papers, including personal, business, and congressional papers, photographs, and portraits.
Papers: Correspondence in the Preston family papers-Davie collection; Johnston family papers, 1798-1943; and 20 items (1847-1874) in Breckinridge-Marshall family papers, 1755-1869. Finding aid.

Georgia Historical Society
Savannah, GA
Papers: Letters in James Moore Wayne papers, 1848-1863; and references in Fraser-Couper papers, 1810-1876. Finding aid.

Rutherford B. Hayes Library
Fremont, OH
Papers: August 28, 1860-August 15, 1867. 1 item. Typescript of diary.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in the James Moore Swank papers, 1785-1898; James Gibson papers, 1712-1846; and James Buchanan papers, 1775-1868.

Kentucky Historical Society
Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1857. 1 letter. Also portrait.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: In Breckinridge family papers, 1752-1965. 263 linear feet. Includes papers relating to his work in Congress and his Lexington, KY law practice and letters from constituents. Finding aid.
Papers: Correspondence in Andrew and John White Stevenson family papers, 1756-1882; and Louis Eller Asher autograph collection, 1757-1918. Finding aid.

Newberry Library
Chicago, IL
Papers: Correspondence in Daniel Stevens Dickinson papers, 1799-1892. Finding aid.

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Nashville, TN
Papers: Correspondence in George Washington Gordon papers, 1791-1946, on microfilm. Finding aid.

University of Kentucky Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
Lexington, KY
Papers: 20 items (1853-1875) in various collections.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection
Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: In the John Taylor Wood papers, 1858-1915. Includes typed copy of a brief narrative by General Breckinridge, who was with Wood on the escape to Cuba.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in the Thomas S. Bocock papers, 1760-1897.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections. Finding aid.
Research Libraries Information Network: In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL; and Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, New Haven, CT.

  • Breckinridge, John C. "A Rebel Leader's Flight to Cuba.'' Civil War Times Illustrated 6 (June 1967): 4-10.
  • Davis, William C. "John C. Breckinridge.'' Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 85 (Summer 1987): 197-212.
  • ___. "John C. Breckinridge--a Profile.'' Civil War Times Illustrated 6 (June 1967): 11-18.
  • ___. Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974.
  • Harrison, Lowell H. "John C. Breckinridge: Nationalist, Confederate, Kentuckian.'' Filson Club History Quarterly 47 (April 1973): 125-44.
  • Heck, Frank H. "John C. Breckinridge in the Crisis of 1860-1861.'' Journal of Southern History 21 (August 1955): 316-46.
  • ___. Proud Kentuckian, John C. Breckinridge, 1821-1875. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1976.
  • Kentucky General Assembly. Speeches and Proceedings upon the announcement of the death of Hon. John C. Breckinridge in the Senate and House of Representatives of Kentucky, Friday and Saturday, January 7 and 22d, 1876. Frankfort: Kentucky Yoeman Office, 1876.
  • Klotter, James C. The Breckinridges of Kentucky, 1760-1981. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.
  • Melzer, Dorothy Garrett. "Mr. Breckinridge Accepts.'' Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 56 (July 1958): 217-32.
  • O'Connor, John. "John Cabell Breckinridge's Personal Secession: A Rhetorical Insight.'' Filson Club History Quarterly 43 (October 1969): 345-52.
  • Stillwell, Lucille. John Cabell Breckinridge. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers, 1936.