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John C. Breckinridge:
A Vice Presidential Unit

John C. Breckinridge was in office from March 4, 1857 to March 4, 1861 as the 14th Vice President of the United States, He was born on January 16, 1821, in Lexington, Kentucky. It was in Kentucky that he went to college and studied law. Though he was admitted to the bar, and spent a short period practicing law, his career shifted into politics after successfully serving as a major in the Mexican-American War. After success as a member of the House of Representatives, he quickly gained favor and was chosen as James Buchanan’s running mate on the Democratic ticket. After being the third runner up in the 1860 election, it was apparent that Breckinridge’s political career would peak at the title of Vice President. As the Civil War began, he found a leadership role as major general in the Confederate States Army. The south’s defeat prompted Breckinridge to flee the country, finding refuge in the United Kingdom and Canada until he was granted amnesty in 1869. Breckinridge returned to Kentucky and reestablished his law practice. He died on March 17, 1875.

Political Party: Democrat

President: James Buchanan

Name of his Parents: Joseph Cabell Breckinridge and Mary Clay Smith

Spouse(s): Mary Cyrene Burch Breckinridge

Yearly Salary as Vice President:$8,000

State of Birth: Kentucky

Trivia Questions:

1) Breckinridge served in which two major American wars?
Mexican-American War and Civil War

2) Why did Breckinridge flee the United States after the Civil War?
Fears of being put on trial for treason

Of Note:

- Coming into office at the age of 36, John C. Breckinridge was the youngest Vice President ever to be elected.
- Breckinridge played an integral role in encouraging southern surrender.


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