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Charles M. Conrad (1850–1853) - Secretary of War

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Charles Magill Conrad was born in 1804 in Winchester County, Virginia. He grew up in Louisiana Territory, studied law, and was admitted to the New Orleans bar in 1828. From 1839 to 1840, Conrad served in the Louisiana House of Representatives before heading to the U.S. Senate, where he filled a vacancy from 1841 to 1843. Five years later, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served there from 1849 to 1850. When Millard Fillmore became President following the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850, Fillmore tapped Conrad to become secretary of war, a post Conrad held for the remainder of the Fillmore administration. Upon leaving the cabinet in 1853, Conrad worked as a lawyer in New Orleans. He attended the Confederate constitutional convention in 1861, helped write parts of the Confederate constitution, and was elected as a representative to the Confederate Congress. Following the end of the Civil War, Conrad returned to New Orleans to find that his estate had been confiscated by the Union. Charles Magill Conrad practiced law until his death in 1878.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Michael F. Holt

Professor Holt is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia. His writings include:

The Civil War and Reconstruction (Co-authored with Jean H. Baker and David Herbert Donald, W.W. Norton, 2001)

The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Political Parties and American Political Development from the age of Jackson to the age of Lincoln (Louisiana State University Press, 1992)