Cabinet of the Confederate
States of America
The Cabinet of the Confederate States, commonly called the Confederate cabinet or Cabinet of Jefferson Davis, was part of the executive branch of the federal government of the Confederate States between 1861 and 1865. The members of the Cabinet were the vice-president and heads of the federal executive departments.
Cabinet of the United States, with its
members overseeing a State Department, Treasury Department, War Department, and
Post Office Department. However, unlike the Union, the Confederacy lacked a
Department of the Interior, and created a Justice Department (the position of
the U.S. Attorney General existed, but the U.S. Department of Justice was only
created in 1870, after the end of the Civil War).
The Confederate cabinet was ineffective. Like the Confederate Congress, its membership was undistinguished—a contrast with Lincoln's Cabinet, which included highly talented men. Confederate President Jefferson Davis made many of his initial selections to the Cabinet on the basis of political considerations; his choices "Were dictated by the need to assure the various states that their interests were being represented in the government." Moreover, most Confederate talent went into the military rather than the Cabinet, and the cabinet suffered from frequent turnover and reshuffling. Sixteen different men served in the six Cabinet posts during the four years of the Confederacy's existence. The most talented—but also the most unpopular—member of the Cabinet was Judah P. Benjamin. Among the weakest cabinet secretaries was Treasury Secretary Christopher Memminger, who had little experience with fiscal policy; Memminger was placed at the Treasury by Davis due to the influence of South Carolinians, because Memminger had been an influential supporter of that state's secession. Civil War historian Allen C. Guelzo describes the first Confederate secretaries of war and state, Leroy Pope Walker of Alabama and Robert Toombs of Georgia, respectively—as "brainless political appointees."
The cabinet's performance suffered due to Davis's inability to delegate and propensity to micromanage his Cabinet officers. Davis consulted with the Cabinet frequently—meeting with individual cabinet secretaries almost every day and convening meetings of the full Cabinet two or three times a week—but these meetings, which could stretch to five hours or more, "rarely saw anything accomplished." Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory lamented that "From [Davis's] uncontrollable tendency to digression," cabinet meetings "consumed four or five hours without determining anything." Many of the cabinet members became frustrated, especially the secretaries of war; after concluding "that they could not get along with Davis's constant interference and micromanagement," many resigned. Nine of the eleven Confederate states "had representation in the Cabinet at some point during the life of Confederacy"; only Tennessee and Arkansas never had a Confederate cabinet officer.
The final meeting of the Confederate cabinet took place in Fort Mill, South Carolina, amid the Confederate collapse. Fort Mill was the only place where the full Confederate cabinet met after the fall of Richmond.
Alexander H. Stephens--Home state was Georgia and served from 18 February 1861 thru 11 May 1865
Secretary of State
Robert Toombs--Home state was Georgia and served from 25 February 1861--25 July 1861
Robert M. T. Hunter--Home state of Virginia--Served from 25 July 1861--18 February 1862.
William M. Browne--Home state of Georgia-- Served from 18 February 1862 – 18 March 1862
Judah P. Benjamin--Home state of Louisiana--Served from 18 March 1862--10 May 1865.
Secretary of the Treasury
Christopher Memminger--Home state of South Carolina--Served from 25 February 1861--18 July 1864.
George Trenholm--Home state of South Carolina--Served from 25 February 1861--18 July 1864--27 April 1865.
John H. Regan--Home state of Texas--Served from 27 April 1865--10 May 1865.
Secretary of War
LeRoy Pope Walker--Home state of Alabama--Served from 25 February 1861--16 September 1861.
Judah P. Benjamin--Home state of Louisiana--Served from 17 September 1861--24 March 1862.
George W. Randolph--Home state of Virginia--Served from 24 March 1862--15 November 1862.
James Seddon--Home State of Virginia--Served from 21 November 1862--5 February 1865.
Major General John C. Breckinridge--Home state of Kentucky--Served from 6 February 1865--10 May 1865.
Secretary of the Navy
Stephen Mallory--Home state of Florida--Served from 4 March 1861--2 May 1865.
John H. Regan--Home state of Texas--Served from 6 March 1861--10 May 1865.
Judah P. Benjamin--Home state of Louisiana--Served from 25 February 1861--17 September 1861.
Wade Keyes--Home state of Alabama--Served from 17 September 1861--21 November 1861.
Thomas Bragg--Home state of North Carolina--Served from 21 November 1861--18 March 1862.
Thomas H. Watts--Home state of Alabama--Served from 18 March 1862--1 October 1863.
Wade Keyes--Home state of Alabama--Served from 1 October 1863--2 January 1864.
George Davis--Home state of North Carolina--Served from 2 January 1864--24 April 1865.