James Seddon

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James Seddon
File:James Alexander Seddon 1.jpg
4th Confederate States Secretary of War
In office
November 21, 1862 – February 5, 1865
President Jefferson Davis
Preceded by George Randolph
Succeeded by John Breckinridge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1851
Preceded by John Botts
Succeeded by John Caskie
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 3, 1847
Preceded by John Jones
Succeeded by John Botts
Personal details
Born (1815-07-13)July 13, 1815
Falmouth, Virginia
Died August 19, 1880(1880-08-19) (aged 65)
Goochland County, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sarah Bruce
Alma mater University of Virginia
Religion Presbyterian

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.


Born in Falmouth, Stafford County, Virginia, Seddon was a descendant of William Alexander, Earl of Stirling. 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 estate on 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 the Secretary of War, a post he held until January 1, 1865, when he retired from public life to his country estate.

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 Botts.

External links

Media related to James Alexander Seddon at Wikimedia Commons

United States 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