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Confederate Cabinet -- Secretary of State

Robert Toombs

C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis surrounded himself with an interesting and eclectic group of Cabinet officials. His Secretary of State was Robert Augustus Toombs from Georgia.

Toombs was born in 1810 in Washington, Georgia. He attended Franklin College in Athens and graduated from Union College in New York. He studied law at the University of Virginia Law School and was admitted to the bar in Georgia.

Toombs became a legislator in the Georgia House of Representatives and later was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. He served in the U.S. Congress from 1845 to 1853. From 1853 to 1861 Toombs served in the U. S. Senate. As an active politician, Toombs opposed the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War. His Toombs Bill in 1856 proposed a constitutional convention for Kansas but without allowing popular vote to decide the issue.

When the war loomed, it was Toombs who championed the position that Georgia secede. And with secession, Toombs saw himself as the president of the Confederacy. His hopes were dashed when Jefferson Davis was selected instead. Some insisted that Toombs dirking problems might have been the deciding factor in the decision. Instead, Toombs became the Secretary of State of the Confederacy. Toombs was the only Cabinet member to oppose the bombardment of Fort Sumter, insisting that the action “will lose us every friend in the North.” Toombs got disillusioned rather quickly with the Confederate government and resigned to become a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.

By war's end, Toombs fled to Cuba and then Paris before returning to his native Georgia. He never received a pardon and therefore was denied the right to vote. He did, however, reinvigorate his lucrative law practice. Toombs died at the age of 75 in 1885. His home in Washington, Georgia is a state historic site open to the public.

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