John Cabell Breckinridge

Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Lexington, Kentucky April 21, 2010 22nd Visited


One of Henry Clay's neighbors in Lexington                                                 For a period of three months,
Cemetery is John C. Breckinridge, Confederate                                            Breckinridge served as the
general and 14th vice president of the United                                             Confederacy's secretary of war.


Breckinridge's worn grave is meant                                             After the fall of the CSA, Breckinridge fled
to look like a scroll, as can be seen                                             the country, hoping to evade Union
in this photograph.                                                                    soldiers that might have been searching
                                                                                              for him. He eventually returned to the
                                                                                              U.S., where he spent his remaining years.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* John C. Breckinridge, the United States' fourteenth vice president, was born on the 16th of January in 1821 near Lexington, Kentucky. He attended both Centre College and the College of New Jersey before he went to study law at Transylvania University. Breckinridge passed the bar in 1840. After he served in the Mexican-American War, he became a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

* Breckinridge was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1850 and was a member from 1851 until 1855. After he decided not to run for a third term, he declined the position of minister to Spain which had been offered to him by President Pierce. In 1856, the Kentuckian was placed on the Democratic presidential ticket with James Buchanan and was put into office. Breckinridge, the youngest person ever to be sworn in as vice president of the United States, was thirty-six years old on March 4, 1857.

* As it was about to do to the United States, slavery had separated the entire Democratic Party by the election of 1860. The two factions that had formed were called the Northern Democrats and the Southern Democrats, and each put up a candidate for the presidency that year. The Northern Democrat running for office, Senator Stephen Douglas, came in last place with twelve electoral votes, while incumbent Vice President Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic candidate, came in second place with 72 electoral votes. Breckinridge, Douglas, and John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party all fell to Republican Abraham Lincoln from Illinois.

* Although he was defeated in the 1860 election, this did not keep Breckinridge out of politics. Within a short period of time, he was elected to the United States Senate. He only served a partial term however, as he was expelled from the Senate because of his Southern sympathies. Abandoning his home state of Kentucky, (which was a border state during the war), Breckinridge became an important member of the Confederate army. Upon enlisting, he became a brigadier general. Eventually, he found himself promoted to major general, a rank he still held when he was appointed secretary of war in 1865.

* By the time April of 1865 rolled by, most Southern politicians knew that the end was near. During this time period, Secretary of War Breckinridge saw to it that each of the Confederacy's papers were properly stored and taken care of. That way, each document would be captured by the North and not destroyed, ensuring that people for years to come would be able to learn about how the Confederate government worked and operated.

Second Lady: Mary Cyrene Burch Breckinridge
       - Spouse: Mary Cyrene Burch Breckinridge (1826-1907)

Political Party:
Democratic Party

Served Under:
James Buchanan

Last Words:

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