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Amos Tappan Akerman


In office
November 23, 1870 – December 13, 1871
Preceded by Ebenezer R. Hoar
Succeeded by George H. Williams

Born February 23, 1821(1821-02-23)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died December 21, 1880 (aged 59)
Cartersville, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Martha Rebecca Galloway Akerman
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Profession Lawyer, Politician
Military service
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Battles/wars American Civil War

Amos Tappan Akerman (February 23, 1821 – December 21, 1880) served as United States Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant from 1870 to 1871. Akerman was born on February 23, 1821 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as the ninth of Benjamin Akerman’s twelve children. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy high school, and then attended Dartmouth College graduating as a member of the class of 1842 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. He worked as a strict headmaster of a boy’s academy in Murfreesboro, North Carolina before being hired as a tutor for John M. Berrien's children in Savannah, Georgia. He took advantage of Berrien's extensive law library and became fascinated with the field. Akerman passed the Georgia Bar in 1850 and opened a law practice in Elberton, Georgia with Robert Heston.

Although he was against secession as a solution to the North-South conflicts, Akerman stayed loyal to his adopted state and joined the Confederate States Army in the spring of 1864. Akerman first served in General Robert Toombs’ brigade and later in the quartermaster’s department where it was his job to procure and dispense uniforms, weapons and other supplies to the soldiers. Days before he entered active service, he married Martha Rebecca Galloway.

Akerman joined the Republican Party in the campaign for black-American citizenship and suffrage, and was an outspoken proponent of Reconstruction as a member of Georgia's 1868 state constitutional convention and as U.S. district attorney for Georgia (1869). Amos Akerman also strongly advocated Georgia’s readmission into the Union and therefore fought for stability and federal compliance in the South. On June 23, 1870, he was appointed as Attorney General by President Ulysses S. Grant. Interestingly, Akerman was the “only person from the Confederacy to reach cabinet rank during Reconstruction.” Having become attorney general shortly after the creation of the new Justice Department, Akerman dealt with legal issues from the Department of the Interior, such as the question of whether competing railroad companies deserved more land in the West in return for expanding the country’s transportation system. He also dealt with the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal and led massive campaigns against the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), whose violence he had experienced first-hand. Akerman resigned in 1871 because of the beginning of corruption that plagued Grant's administration. His opposition to the Klan and unpartisaned interpretation of the United States Constitution, such as in the case of the railroad magnates, led advisors to pressure President Grant into asking for Akerman's resignation. Although he was offered another government job, he returned to Georgia, where he continued to practice law until his death in Cartersville, on December 21, 1880.

His son was Alexander Akerman.

References

  • Jean Edward Smith, Grant, 2001, New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84927-5
  • Government Printing Office biography
  • Robert Sobel, Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch. 1774-1989 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).
  • J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson, Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward (New York: Oxford university Press, 1982).
Legal offices
Preceded by
Ebenezer R. Hoar
United States Attorney General
November 23, 1870 – December 13, 1871
Succeeded by
George H. Williams
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