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(CIVIL WAR--CONFEDERATE.) Howell Cobb. Letter written as United States Secretary of the Treasury, supporting secession. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. One page, 7 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches, plus integral blank; paper clip stain, mailing folds. Washington, 25 November 1860
Howell Cobb (1815-1868) of Georgia was President Buchanan's Secretary of the Treasury, but became an avid secessionist while still holding federal office. Writing just weeks after the election of Abraham Lincoln had pushed secession talk to the fore, he describes a conversation with his fellow secessionist cabinet member John Floyd, former governor of Virginia and at that point the Secretary of War: "I receved your letter and . . . immediately called to see Gov. Floyd. He authorizes me to say to you that Col. Hardee shall have the additional leave of absence asked for." Lieutenant Colonel William J. Hardee of the 1st United States Cavalry Regiment would soon resign his commission to join the Confederacy.
Cobb continues, "It gives me great pleasure to do any thing in my power to advance the policy of our noble state in preparing to maintain out of the Union that equality & independence which there is no hope longer any hope of preserving in the Union. God speed her cause & strengthen her resolution."
Just two weeks later, on 8 December, Cobb resigned his position in the United States cabinet. In February, he was chosen president of the provisional congress of seceded states in Montgomery, AL, and was thus the de facto leader of the Confederacy until the election of Jefferson Davis as president. Cobb then became a general in the Confederate Army, and remained in the field until after Appomattox.
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