William Campbell Preston Breckinridge

U.S. Congressperson

1837 – 1904


Who was William Campbell Preston Breckinridge?

William Campbell Preston Breckinridge was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Kentucky, a Member of the Masonic Lodge, and a Member of the Knights Templar. He was the first cousin of Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge.

He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1855. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville in 1857. He returned to Lexington, Kentucky to engage in the practice of law.

He entered the Confederate Army in 1861 as a Captain under John Hunt Morgan, and by the end of the war held the rank of Colonel.

Following the war, he returned to Lexington, Kentucky where he resumed the practice of law, taught jurisprudence at the University of Kentucky, and was ultimately elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1885. He held that position through five Congresses. A Breach of Promise suit filed by a former mistress in 1894 may have ruined his political career.

At the November 1901 Convention of the State Federation of Labor in Lexington, Breckinridge delivered an eloquent speech in which he extolled the virtues of a six day work week, opposed violent strikes, and encouraged negotiations. The following day, the vice president of the group, James D. Wood, took over the convention and helped pass resolutions which called Breckinridge an "enemy of the trade and labor organizations of the state." The controversy which followed split the federation's membership.

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Aug 28, 1837
  • United States of America
  • Confederate States of America
  • Centre College
  • University of Louisville
Nov 18, 1904

on July 23, 2013


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