Cabell Breckinridge

Lawyer, Deceased Person

1788 –


Who is Cabell Breckinridge?

Joseph "Cabell" Breckinridge was a lawyer and politician in the U.S. state of Kentucky. From 1816 to 1819, he was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, serving as speaker from 1817 to 1819. In 1820, he was appointed Kentucky Secretary of State by Governor John Adair. A member of the Breckinridge political family, he was the son of U.S. Attorney General John Breckinridge and the father of U.S. Vice President John C. Breckinridge.

Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, Breckinridge moved to Kentucky with his parents in 1793. When John Breckinridge was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1801, Cabell traveled with him to Washington, D.C., and completed preparatory studies at New London Academy. In 1806, he enrolled in the College of New Jersey. His studies were interrupted in 1807 when he participated in a student protest against the strict rules and rigorous curriculum at the institution, but after a year-long break, he returned and completed his bachelor's degree in 1810. After graduation, he married Mary Clay Smith, daughter of Samuel Stanhope Smith, the university's president.

Breckinridge intended to begin practicing law in Lexington, Kentucky, but he enlisted for service in the War of 1812 instead. After the war, he opened his practice and was elected to the Kentucky House, where he led an unsuccessful attempt to oust Gabriel Slaughter after he ascended to the governorship upon the death of George Madison. He served as Speaker of the House from 1817 to 1819, and was appointed as Adair's Secretary of State in 1820. He moved to Frankfort, the state capital, so that he could attend to the duties of his office, but fell ill with a fever in August 1823 and died in office on September 1.

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Jul 14, 1788
Albemarle County

on July 23, 2013


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