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Presentation to Highlight John C. Breckinridge Life

June 04, 2012

In commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Dr. John Gaines will be the guest speaker for a public meeting of the Bristol Historical Association on Monday June 11. The meeting will be held in the J. Henry Kegley Meeting Room at the Bristol Public Library at 6:30pm. Gaines will present the program highlighting the exceptional life of John Cabell Breckinridge.

Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States (1857–1861) under President James Buchanan, to date the youngest vice president in U.S. history. It was at the junction of the Civil War and as Union troops were settling into Kentucky that he went south and joined the Confederacy.

He was appointed a general and commander of the forces prior to the 1863 Seige of Port Hudson, Louisiana and of the young Virginia Military Institute cadets, at the 1864 Battle of New Market in New Market, Virginia. He continued to rise in the Confederate ranks, appointed as Secretary of War and negotiated terms with General Sherman in eventual surrender of the South. Breckinridge had connections to the Holston region having briefly located his command headquarters in Abingdon and fought in both battles of Saltville.

Dr. John Gaines has a long history at Bristol’s King College. He served as Director of Teacher Education from 1969 until 1999 and was appointed as Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs during his tenure. He specialized in Political Science as well as teaching courses in Education, American Studies, Geography and History. With his expertise he co-authored and was editorial consultant on several history and government books. He has served on Bristol Tennessee City Council and is active in numerous civic organizations.

The June 11 meeting is in conjunction with the Bristol Public Library’s mission of “Expanding Minds and Building Community.” This educational presentation is free and open to the public.

The Bristol Historical Association was founded in 1979 and currently owns a number of historic properties, including the birthplace of Tennessee Ernie Ford and the Robert Preston house. The association recently purchased the acreage around the 200-plus year old residence and is firming up plans for fundraising and then renovation of the property. Isabel Ladd currently serves as president of the association.