TOOMRS, Robert, American lawyer and statesman: b. Wilkes County, Ga., 2 July 1810; d. Washington, Ga., 15 Dec. 1885. He was the son of a Georgia planter, attended for one year Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) and was graduated at Union Col lege, Schenectady, N. Y., in 1828. In 1829 he studied law at the University of Virginia and in 1830, being under age, was admitted to the bar by special act of the legislature. Within 10 years he became one of the foremost lawyers of Georgia. In 1836, when the Creek War broke out in Alabama, he raised a company of volun teers and served as captain under Gen. Winfield Scott. In 1837-40 and 1842-43 Toombs was a member of the legislature and during this time became a leader of the State Rights Whigs of Georgia. From 1844 to 1852 he served as rep resentative in Congress and was one of its best orators and debaters. In 1850 he was a prom inent supporter of the compromise measures in the House. In 1852 with other Southern Whigs he refused to support Scott for President. After 1852, like Stephens, he acted with the Democrats. From 1853 to 1861 he was in the United States Senate. In 1854 he favored the Kansas-Nebraska Bill as carrying out the prin ciples of the compromise of 1850. Immediately before the elections of 1860 Toombs lectured in the North on slavery. After the election of Lincoln he advised secession of the Southern States and made secession speeches in Georgia in December 1860 and in the United States Senate in January 1861, maintaining that in secession lay the only hope of security for the South. Georgia seceded 19 Jan. 1861 and Toombs withdrew from the Senate four days later. In March he was formally expelled. He was chosen to the Confederate Provisional Congress that met in Montgomery 4 Feb. 1861 and by a considerable minority was considered as a candidate for President. On 21 February he was made Secretary of State by President Davis. He opposed the firing on Sumter that began the contest of arms. Resigning Sep tember 1861 to become a brigadier-general in the Confederate army, he fought with distinc tion in the second battle of Manassas (Bull Run) and at Sharpsburg (Antietam). He re signed his commission in 1863 and in 1864 was made commander of the Georgia militia. He
disapproved the policy of the Richmond ad ministration and personally disliked Davis. With Vice-President Stephens and Governor Brown he headed the Peace Movement in Georgia in 1864, thereby doing much to weaken the cause of the Confederacy. In 1865, to escape arrest, Toombs went abroad. visiting Cuba, France and England. Returning in 1867, on the restoration of the privilege of habeas cor pus, he soon amassed a fortune of $500,00fin the practice of law. In 1872 he was a member of the Georgia Democratic Convention and sup ported Horace Greeley for the Presidency. In 1874 the Georgia legislature passed a law pro viding that railroads should be taxed like other property. The railroads resisted, and Toombs, talcing the case of the State, won the suit in the courts and collected all back taxes. For 10 years he continued the struggle to force the railroads to pay taxes and give proper service to the public and in 1877 secured the passage of a law providing for a board of railroad com missioners. Other Southern States have since passed laws modeled after the Georgia law.
By his enemies Toombs was considered ex treme and intolerant —a ofire-eater.') His friends thought him a statesman of the first order and were disappointed that he made no higher mark. His hasty temper hindered his career in politics. In the army he was an able general, but not a disciplined subordinate. He belonged to the school of Jefferson in politics, believing in strict construction, State sover eignty and strong local government, with much liberty for the individual. His political theories were meant for times of peace, but could not stand the strain of war; consequently he was at variance with the Confederate administration from the beginning. As long as he lived Toombs never ceased to denounce the Recon struction measures of Congress. His experi ences from 1865 to the end of Reconstruction caused him so to dislike the United States gov ernment that he refused to ask for a pardon or to take the oath of allegiance and he never again had the privileges of citizenship. Con sult Stovall, 'Robert Toombs, Statesman, Speaker, Soldier, Sage) (1892) ; Trent,