Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 1861: Davis's Cabinet

On Tuesday, February 19, 1861, just one day after his inauguration, Jefferson Davis completed his cabinet:

Secretary of State Robert Toombs

Toombs, a Georgian, was a close personal friend of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. He served in the Georgia House of Representative, then won a seat in the United States House of Representatives as a Whig. As the Whig Party broke up, he flirted briefly with the Constitutional Union Party, then reluctantly became a Democrat. He served in the United States Senate from 1853-1861.

Secretary of War LeRoy Walker

Walker was a scion of a prominent Alabama family. He served in several legislative and judicial positions in state government, including two terms as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. Davis didn't know Walker, but was looking for an Alabaman so that each state would be represented in the new government. Walker was recommended by a group of supporters.

Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger

Memminger was born in Vaihingen, W├╝rtemberg (now Stuttgart, Germany), but emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, with his mother as a toddler. He served two long stints (1836-1852 and 1854-1860) in the state legislature, amassing twenty years as the head of the finance committee. Memminger was the leader of the committee that wrote South Carolina's Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.

Attorney General Judah Benjamin

Benjamin was born in London. His parents, Sephardic Jews, moved to St. Croix, then the United States, settling in Charleston, South Carolina. After attending Yale College, Benjamin moved to New Orleans where he passed the bar, became a wealthy slaveowner, and served in both houses of the Louisiana legislature. In 1852, he became the first Jew to be elected to the United States Senate without renouncing the religion, resigning when Louisiana seceded.

Postmaster General John Reagan

Reagan was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, but moved to Texas as a young man. After passing the bar, he served one term in the state legislature, then served as a district judge. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1857 until Texas seceded.

Also on this date, in New Orleans, the U.S. Paymaster's office was seized by Louisiana state troops.

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