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George M. Bibb (1844–1845) - Secretary of the Treasury

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George Mortimer Bibb was born in 1776 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1792 and then attended William and Mary College. He was admitted to the bar and, after practicing law first in Virginia, moved in 1798 to Lexington, Kentucky, and established a law practice there.

Having failed to secure enough votes to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate in 1806, Bibb was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives that same year. He resigned his seat after only a few days. Two years later, he became a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In 1809, the governor of Kentucky -- Bibb’s father-in-law -- appointed Bibb chief justice of that court. Bibb resigned his position after one year and returned to the state House of Representatives.

By 1811, Bibb was filling a vacancy in the United States Senate. He served the remainder of the term until 1814, resigning that year and returning to his law practice. Three years later, Bibb was back in the state legislature. In 1827, he once again became chief justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, serving one year until he headed back to the United States Senate in 1829 as a Jacksonian Democrat. Bibb served in the Senate until 1835, returning to his home state to serve as chancellor of the Louisville Chancery Court.

In 1844, President John Tyler tapped Bibb to become his secretary of the treasury, a post Bibb held from 1844 to 1845. After leaving the cabinet at the end of Tyler’s administration, Bibb returned to the law, this time practicing in Washington, D.C. His final political assignment was a three-year stint as the chief clerk in the attorney general’s office (1850-1853). George Mortimer Bibb died in 1859.

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Consulting Editor

William Freehling

Professor Freehling is a senior fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the emeritus Singletary Professor of the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. His writings include:

The Road to Disunion, 1776–1861 (2 volumes; Oxford University Press, 1990 and 2007)

The Reintegration of American History: Slavery and the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Prelude to Civil War: the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836 (Oxford University Press, 1992)