December 4, 1861: John C. Breckenridge Expelled From the Senate


It is not every day that a former Vice-President of the United States is expelled from the Senate, but the abnormal tended to be the norm in Civil War America.  John C. Breckinridge, Vice President of the United States under James Buchanan ( and the youngest ever, being 36 when he was sworn in), was in 1861 a United States Senator from Kentucky.  He retained his seat so long as Kentucky attempted to remain neutral.  When fighting broke out in Kentucky in October of 1861, he threw in his lot with the Confederacy, taking command of the 1 Kentucky Brigade, which would achieve fame in the War as the Orphan Brigade.

Breckinridge sent in a letter of resignation to the Senate.  Refusing to accept it, the Senate instead passed a resolution of expulsion on December 4, 1861 proposed by Senator Zachariach Chandler (R. MI.):

Whereas John C. Breckinridge, a member of this body from the State of Kentucky, has joined the enemies of his country, and is now in arms against the Government he had sworn to support:

Therefore, Resolved, That the said John C. Breckinridge, the traitor, be, and he is hereby, expelled from the Senate.

Published in: on December 4, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 4, 1861: John C. Breckenridge Expelled From the Senate  
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