World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Howell Cobb

Article Id: WHEBN0000790559
Reproduction Date:

Title: Howell Cobb  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 31st United States Congress, James Guthrie (Kentucky), Robert Charles Winthrop, George W. Crawford, Battle of Crampton's Gap
Collection: 1815 Births, 1868 Deaths, American People of English Descent, American Solicitors, Buchanan Administration Cabinet Members, Burials in Georgia (U.S. State), Confederate States Army Generals, Confederate States Army Major Generals, Constitutional Union Party State Governors of the United States, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Democratic Party State Governors of the United States, Deputies and Delegates of the Provisional Confederate Congress, Georgia (U.S. State) Constitutional Unionists, Georgia (U.S. State) Democrats, Georgia (U.S. State) Lawyers, Governors of Georgia (U.S. State), Members of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia (U.S. State), People from Jefferson County, Georgia, People of Georgia (U.S. State) in the American Civil War, Speakers of the United States House of Representatives, United States Secretaries of the Treasury, University of Georgia Alumni, University of Georgia Faculty
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Howell Cobb

Howell Cobb
President of the Provisional Confederate States Congress
In office
February 4, 1861 – February 18, 1862
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Bocock (Speaker of the House of Representatives)
Robert Hunter (President pro tempore of the Senate)
United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
March 7, 1857 – December 8, 1860
President James Buchanan
Preceded by James Guthrie
Succeeded by Philip Thomas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from 6th district
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 4, 1857
Preceded by Junius Hillyer
Succeeded by James Jackson
40th Governor of Georgia
In office
November 5, 1851 – November 9, 1853
Preceded by George Towns
Succeeded by Herschel Johnson
19th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 22, 1849 – March 4, 1851
Preceded by Robert Winthrop
Succeeded by Linn Boyd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from 6th district
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1851
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Junius Hillyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from At-large district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 4, 1845
Preceded by James Meriwether
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1815-09-07)September 7, 1815
Jefferson County, Georgia, U.S.
Died October 9, 1868(1868-10-09) (aged 53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1851; 1853–1868)
Constitutional Union (1851–1853)
Alma mater University of Georgia
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States
Service/branch  Confederate Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Major general
Unit Army of Northern Virginia
Battles/wars American Civil War

Thomas Howell Cobb (September 7, 1815 – October 9, 1868) was an American political figure. A 40th Governor of Georgia (1851–1853).

He is, however, probably best known as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America, having served as the President of the Provisional Confederate Congress, when delegates of the secessionist states issued creation of the Confederacy.

Cobb served for two weeks between the foundation of the Confederacy and the election of Jefferson Davis as first President. This made him, as the Speaker of the Congress, provisional Head of State at this time.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Congressman 2.1
    • Speaker of the House 2.2
    • Governor of Georgia 2.3
    • Return to Congress and Secretary of the Treasury 2.4
    • A Founder of the Confederacy 2.5
    • American Civil War 2.6
  • Later life and death 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Born in Phi Kappa Literary Society. He was of Welsh American ancestry.[1] He was admitted to the bar in 1836 and became solicitor general of the western judicial circuit of Georgia.

He married Mary Ann Lamar on May 26, 1835. They would have eleven children, the first in 1838 and the last in 1861. They were John Addison, Zachariah Lamar, Howell, Henry Jackson, Basil Lamar, Mary Ann Lamar, Laura Rootes, Sarah, Andrew Jackson, Elizabeth Craig, and Thomas Reade Rootes. Several did not survive out of childhood, including their last, a son who was named after Howell's brother, Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb.



Lucy May Stanton, Howell Cobb, 1912, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

He was elected as Democrat to the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st Congresses. He was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Mileage during the 28th Congress, and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives during the 31st Congress.

He sided with President Georgia Platform, that the state accepted the Compromise as the final resolution to the outstanding slavery issues. On that issue, Cobb was elected governor of Georgia by a large majority.

Speaker of the House

In 1850, as Speaker he would have been next in line to the Presidency for two days due to Vice Presidential vacancy and a president pro tempore not being appointed yet, except he did not meet the minimum eligibility for the presidency of being 35 years old. When Zachary Taylor died on July 9, Vice President Millard Fillmore became President. The president pro tempore of the Senate was not appointed until July 11 when William Rufus de Vane King took that position.

Governor of Georgia

In 1851, he left the House to serve as the

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Meriwether
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Junius Hillyer
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Junius Hillyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from James Jackson
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
George Towns
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Herschel Johnson
Preceded by
James Guthrie
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Philip Thomas
New office President of the Provisional Confederate States Congress
Succeeded by
Thomas Bocock
as Speaker of the Confederate States House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Robert Hunter
as President pro tempore of the Confederate States Senate
  • New Georgia Encyclopedia: Howell Cobb (1815-1868)
  • U.S. Treasury - Biography of Secretary Howell Cobb
  • Howell Cobb entry at the National Governors Association
  • Howell Cobb (1815–1868) entry at The Political Graveyard
  • "Howell Cobb".  
  • "The Late Howell Cobb", Southern Recorder, November 10, 1868. Atlanta Historic Newspaper Archive. Digital Library of Georgia
  • Joseph Emerson Brown letters, W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama.

External links

  • Simpson, John E., Howell Cobb: the Politics of Ambition. (Chicago, Illinois: Adams Press, 1973).
  • Montgomery, Horace, Howell Cobb's Confederate Career. (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Confederate Publishing, 1959).

Further reading


  1. ^ A memorial volume of the Hon. Howell Cobb, of Georgia edited by Samuel Boykin page 14
  2. ^ NIE
  3. ^ Klein (1962), pp. 11.
  4. ^ Official Records, Series II, Vol. 3, pp. 338-340, 812-13, Vol. 4, pp. 31-32, 48.
  5. ^ "Memoirs, ch.21". William Tecumseh Sherman. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ New Georgia Encyclopedia


See also

Thomas Willis Cobb was a cousin and Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb a younger brother of Howell Cobb. His great uncle and namesake, Howell Cobb, had been a U.S. Congressman from 1807–1812, and then served as an officer in the War of 1812. A niece was Mildred Lewis Rutherford.

Taking a break from his schedule of political speeches, Cobb decided to vacation in New York City in the autumn. He died of a heart attack there. His body was returned to Oconee Hill Cemetery.[7]

Following the end of the Civil War, Cobb returned home and resumed his law practice, but despite pressure from his former constituents and soldiers, he refused to make any public remarks on Reconstruction policy until he received a presidential pardon, although he privately opposed it. Finally receiving that document in early 1868, he then vigorously opposed the Reconstruction Acts, making a series of speeches that summer that bitterly denounced the policies of Radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

Later life and death

Cobb surrendered to the U.S. at Macon, Georgia on April 20, 1865.

In the closing days of the war, Cobb fruitlessly opposed General Robert E. Lee's eleventh hour proposal of enlisting slaves into the Confederate army. Fearing that such a move would completely discredit the Confederacy's fundamental justification of slavery, that black people were inferior peoples, he said, "You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong."[6]

During Sherman's March to the Sea, the army camped one night near Cobb's plantation. When Sherman discovered that the house he planned to stay in for the night belonged to Cobb, whom Sherman described in his Memoirs as "one of the leading rebels of the South, then a general in the Southern army," he confiscated Cobb's property and leveled the plantation, instructing his subordinates to "spare nothing."[5]

In October 1862, Cobb was detached from the Battle of Columbus, Georgia on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865.

Cobb saw combat during the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles. Cobb's brigade played a key role in the fighting at Crampton's Gap during the Battle of South Mountain, especially Crampton's Gap where it arrived at a critical time to delay a Union advance through the gap, but at a bloody cost. His men also fought at the subsequent Battle of Antietam.

Cobb joined the brigadier general on February 13, 1862, and assigned command of a brigade in what became the Army of Northern Virginia. Between February and June 1862, he represented the Confederate authorities in negotiations with Union officers for an agreement on the exchange of prisoners of war. His efforts in these discussions contributed to the Dix-Hill Cartel accord reached in July 1862.[4]

Cobb in his postbellum days

American Civil War

In 1860, Cobb ceased to be a Unionist, and became a leader of the secession movement. He was president of a convention of the seceded states that assembled in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861. Under Cobb's guidance, the delegates drafted a constitution for the new Confederacy. He served as President of several sessions of the Confederate Provisional Congress, before resigning to join the military when war erupted.

A Founder of the Confederacy

He was elected to the 34th Congress and then took the position of Secretary of the Treasury in Buchanan's Cabinet. He served for three years, resigning in December 1860. At one time, Cobb was Buchanan's choice for his successor.[3]

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury.

Return to Congress and Secretary of the Treasury


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.