Absolom M. West

Absolom M. West

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Absolom Madden West was a Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 politician, soldier, railroad president and labor organizer.

Biography


Absolom M. West was born in Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, where his father Anderson West was a county sheriff. His family obtained Federal land grants in Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 and moved to Holmes County, Mississippi
Holmes County, Mississippi
-National protected areas:*Hillside National Wildlife Refuge *Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge *Morgan Brake National Wildlife Refuge*Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge -Demographics:...

, in 1837, where he became a plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 owner. He won election to the State Senate
Mississippi State Senate
The Mississippi Senate is the upper house of the Mississippi Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Mississippi. The Senate is composed of 52 Senators representing an equal amount of constituent districts, with 54,704 people per district...

 of that state as a Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 in 1847. In 1853 he became an officer of the newly formed Mississippi Central Railroad
Mississippi Central Railroad
Mississippi Central Railroad may refer to:*Mississippi Central Railroad , a line from Oxford, Mississippi to Grand Junction, Tennessee owned by Pioneer Railcorp...

.

Although initially an opponent of secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

, when the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 broke out West became a brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 in the Mississippi State Militia. He raised a regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

, and later assumed various administrative offices for the state. Sometimes simultaneously, he served as quartermaster-general, paymaster-general, and commissary-general. At his direction, the legislature established a commission consisting of one lawyer and two businessmen to examine and audit the books and papers of his several offices. At the end of the Civil War, West was the only officer of the state to make a final accounting.

After 1864, West also served as president of the Mississippi Central Railroad, which by that time had been mostly destroyed by the contending armies. After the war, the railroad was sold to the Illinois Central, and West was returned to the State Senate.

Soon thereafter, he was elected to the Federal House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 although he, along with the rest of the unreconstructed Mississippi delegation, was not permitted to be seated. In the years that followed, West established a branch of the National Labor Union
National Labor Union
The National Labor Union was the first national labor federation in the United States. Founded in 1866 and dissolved in 1873, it paved the way for other organizations, such as the Knights of Labor and the AF of L . It was led by William H...

, and served as a Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 elector for President in the election of 1876
United States presidential election, 1876
The United States presidential election of 1876 was one of the most disputed and controversial presidential elections in American history. Samuel J. Tilden of New York outpolled Ohio's Rutherford B. Hayes in the popular vote, and had 184 electoral votes to Hayes's 165, with 20 votes uncounted...

.

Re-elected to the State Senate, he soon became disenchanted with the Democrats, and joined the Greenback party
United States Greenback Party
The Greenback Party was an American political party with an anti-monopoly ideology that was active between 1874 and 1884. Its name referred to paper money, or "greenbacks," that had been issued during the American Civil War and afterward...

. For that party and for the Anti-Monopoly Party
Anti-Monopoly Party
The Anti-Monopoly Party was a short-lived U.S. political party that was founded as a national political party in 1884 at its convention in Chicago, which took place on May 14, 1884. Prior to this convention, however, there were Anti-Monopoly Parties operating at the state level, notably in...

, West was a candidate for Vice President on the ticket of Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician)
Benjamin Franklin Butler was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts....

 in 1884
United States presidential election, 1884
The United States presidential election of 1884 saw the first election of a Democrat as President of the United States since the election of 1856. New York Governor Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican former United States Senator James G. Blaine of Maine to break the longest losing streak...

.

Absalom M. West died at Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs is a city in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 7,957 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County. A short drive from Memphis, Tennessee, Holly Springs is the site of a number of well-preserved antebellum homes and other structures and...

, in 1894.

See also


  • List of American Civil War generals