James Seddon

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James Seddon
James Alexander Seddon 1.jpg
4th Confederate States Secretary of War
In office
November 21, 1862 – February 5, 1865
PresidentJefferson Davis
Preceded byGeorge Randolph
Succeeded byJohn Breckinridge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1851
Preceded byJohn Botts
Succeeded byJohn Caskie
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 3, 1847
Preceded byJohn Jones
Succeeded byJohn Botts
Personal details
James Alexander Seddon

(1815-07-13)July 13, 1815
Falmouth, Virginia
DiedAugust 19, 1880(1880-08-19) (aged 65)
Goochland County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Sarah Bruce
Alma materUniversity of Virginia

James Alexander Seddon (July 13, 1815 – August 19, 1880) was an American lawyer and politician who served two terms as a Representative in the U.S. Congress, as a member of the Democratic Party. He was appointed Confederate States Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis during the American Civil War.


Due to frail health, Seddon was educated primarily at home and became self-taught as a youth. At the age of twenty-one, he entered the law school of the University of Virginia. After graduation, Seddon settled in Richmond, where he established a successful law practice.

In 1845, he was nominated by the Democratic Party for Congress and was easily elected. Two years later, he was renominated, but declined due to platform differences with the party. In 1849, Seddon was reelected to Congress, serving from December 1849 until March 1851. Owing to poor health, he declined another nomination at the end of his term and retired to "Sabot Hill," his plantation located along the James River above Richmond.

Seddon attended the peace convention held in Washington, D.C., in 1861, which attempted to devise a means of preventing the impending civil war. Later in the same year, he attended the Provisional Confederate Congress. President Davis named him as his fourth Secretary of War, succeeding George W. Randolph. He held this post until January 1, 1865, when he retired from public life to his plantation and was succeeded by John C. Breckinridge. His service of more than twenty-four months as Secretary made him the most durable of the five Confederate Secretaries of War.

Electoral history

  • 1845; Seddon was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 52.28% of the vote, defeating Whig John Minor Botts.
  • 1849; Seddon was re-elected with 53.64% of the vote, defeating Whig challenger Botts.

External links

Media related to James Alexander Seddon at Wikimedia Commons

  • United States Congress. "James Seddon (id: S000220)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • "James Seddon". Find a Grave. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  • James Seddon biography at Spartacus Educational
  • James Seddon biography at the Confederate States War Department
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Jones
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Botts
Preceded by
John Botts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Caskie
Political offices
Preceded by
George Randolph
Confederate States Secretary of War
Succeeded by
John Breckinridge
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