Remembering Stephens, 1812-1883
Alexander H. Stephens - February 11, 1812 - March 4, 1883
On February 11 each year we stop to remember the life of a legendary Georgia political leader. While it has become fashionable in these modern days to malign the character of the men who built this nation, particularly The South, we choose to focus on the entirety on their lives and their contributions before passing judgment.
Alexander Hamilton Stephens was a moderating voice in American politics during some of its most heated years. While he is often (erroneously) lumped in with the secessionists, Stephens actually spent a large part of 1860 touring the state to appeal to cooler heads, begging them to prevail. He gave a level-headed address on the floor of the Georgia Capitol in Milledgeville, pleading with the delegates to the Secession Convention to act reasonably and seek to advance their grievances through Congress rather than the war he knew secession would start.
During The War he communicated with the Lincoln Administration, searching for ways to bring peace and end the costly and tragic conflict.
At the war’s close, as other Confederate leaders fled the nation or were caught trying, Stephens was found at his residence, playing cards in the parlor. With a military unit assembled on his lawn he calmly explained to the arresting officer “had you sent word for me, I’d have saved you a trip.”
After The War, Stephens returned to Congress where he continued to represent Georgia, despite continued failing health.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire