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This Day in Georgia History

September 07, 1815

Howell Cobb Born

To view an image of Howell Cobb, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lawyer and politician Howell Cobb born was born in Jefferson County, Georgia. While a youth, Cobb’s family moved to Athens, where he attended the University of Georgia. Following graduation in 1834, he read law and practiced law in Athens. Cobb also became active in politics and in 1841 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. There, in part because of his moderate views on states’ rights issues, he rose in influence. In 1849, Cobb was elected Speaker of the U.S. House–the first Georgian to hold that important post. As Speaker, he played an important role in gaining approval of the Compromise of 1850. Because of the controversy generated by that legislation in Georgia, Cobb resigned from Congress and returned to Georgia to defend himself. In 1851, he ran for governor as a Union Democrat and won. After one term, he returned to practice law in Georgia, but in 1855 he was again elected to the U.S. House. The next year he was a prominent supporter of James Buchanan’s presidential race. After Buchanan won, the new president named Cobb as his Secretary of the Treasury. After a failed bid as the Democratic nominee in the 1860 presidential race, Cobb resigned his cabinet post and returned to Georgia, where he became an active secessionist. Cobb served as president of the provisional Confederate Congress, after which he raised a regiment and left for the battle front. In September 1863, Cobb returned to Georgia to serve as commanding general of the Georgia state forces. During Reconstruction, Cobb again became active with the Democratic Party. He died during a visit to New York City in October 1868.