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John C. Breckinridge rose to prominence during one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history. Widely respected, even by his enemies, for his dedication to moderate liberalism, Breckinridge’s charisma and integrity led to his election as Vice President at age 35, the youngest ever in America’s history.

After a decade of being out-of-print, Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol returns as the quintessential biography of one of Kentucky’s great moderates. Historian William C. Davis sheds light on Breckinridge’s life throughout three key periods, spanning his career as a celebrated statesman, heroic soldier, and proponent of the reconciliation.

A true Kentucky hero, “Old Breck’s” bravery in battle, dedication to the pursuit of truth, and unique ability to win the loyalty of others rank him alongside Henry Clay and Simon Kenton. Drawing from a remarkable collection of sources, including previously unknown documents and letters, as well as the papers of his associates and extensive aid from the Breckinridge family, Davis presents the legacy of a man often overlooked.

William C. Davis, director of programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and professor at Virginia Tech, is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including the Virginia at War series. He was also the chief consultant for The History Channel’s Civil War Journal.

"A substantial and needed contribution to the Confederate biography."—American Historical Review

"This is a first-rate biography—well-written, well researched, and with a good balance. . . . At last John C. Breckinridge has found his biographer."—Journal of Southern History

"Davis tells the remarkable life story of the prominent congressman, senator and vice president and noted Civil War figure."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"Davis explains the importance of Breckinridge’s often overlooked contributions and his dedication to American politics. The book presents the story of a Kentucky hero whose life and legacy give insight into our nation’s rich history."—

"[Breckinridge] is the quintessential biography of one of Kentucky’s most important but underappreciated figures. Davis’ work is the first to delve into the life of a man who lived to serve, and it focuses on his roles as statesman, soldier and diplomat. Davis weaves a detailed narrative, pulling previously unpublished information from a variety of sources."—

"Breckinridge came, of course, from one of Kentucky’s most distinguished families. He added his own considerable luster to the lineage."—Kentucky Gazette

"Author Davis, considered the first to write a definitive Breckinridge biography, utilized a variety of sources, including previously unknown documents and letters and papers from associates and the Breckinridge family."—Eithne O’Leyne, Book News Inc.

"This biography is well worth the time and investment."—H-Net Reviews

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






John C. Breckinridge, United States vice presidents, Kentucky, Confederate generals


United States History

Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol
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