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Amos T. Akerman (1870–1871) - Attorney General

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Amos Tappan Akerman was born in 1821 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842, and worked as a teacher in North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia. He then studied the law and opened a firm in Georgia, where he practiced until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860.

Though he opposed secession, Akerman joined the Confederate Army and saw action in several battles. He ultimately changed his views and began to oppose slavery. Akerman was a member to Georgia’s 1868 state constitutional convention and began serving as U.S. district attorney for Georgia in 1869. One year later, President Ulysses S. Grant tapped Akerman to become his second attorney general, following the resignation of Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar.

During Akerman’s tenure, he dealt with the Credit Mobilier scandal, railroad magnates, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It was his open and active opposition to the KKK that led advisors to pressure President Grant into asking for Akerman’s resignation. Akerman, though angry, complied with Grant’s request and resigned on 1872, never to hold public office again. Amos Tappan Akerman returned to Georgia, where he practiced law until his death in 1880.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Joan Waugh

Professor Waugh is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her writings include:

U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

Wars within a War: Controversy and Conflict over the American Civil War (editor with Gary W. Gallagher, University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture (editor with Alice Fahs, University of North Carolina Press, 2004)

Unsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell (Harvard University Press, 1998)