Stephens, Alexander H.

Stephens, Alexander H. (Hamilton) (“Little Ellick”)

(1812–83) Confederate vice-president, U.S. representative, governor; born near Crawfordville, Ga. He was admitted to the bar (1834) and served Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives (Whig, 1843–53; Dem., 1853–59), where he opposed the war with Mexico but strongly supported the Compromise of 1850. As more extremist Southerners began to call for secession, he opposed it, but at the same time he defended the institution of slavery. When Georgia seceded, he went along with it and somewhat reluctantly he found himself elected vice-president of the Confederate States of America (1861–65). During the Civil War, he often opposed Jefferson Davis's policies, but in the end had little impact on events. He led the Confederate delegation to the unsuccessful peace conference at Hampton Roads, Va. (February 1865). He was imprisoned for five months in Boston Harbor, Mass., and on returning to Georgia was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1866 but was refused his seat. He then wrote a controversial defense of the Confederate position, A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States (2 vols, 1868–70). He did return to the U.S. House of Representatives (Dem., Ga.; 1873–82) and then served briefly as governor of Georgia (1882–83).