Alfred Burton Greenwood (July 11, 1811 – October 4, 1889) was an American attorney, judge, and a politician who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1853 to 1859. When Arkansas seceded from the Union in the Civil War, he was elected to the Confederate Congress as a Democrat. In between, he served under President James Buchanan as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Alfred B. Greenwood
Member of the Confederate States Congress from Arkansas
In office
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
In office
May 13, 1859 – April 13, 1861
PresidentJames Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Preceded byJames W. Denver
Succeeded byWilliam P. Dole
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1859
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byThomas C. Hindman
Personal details
Alfred Burton Greenwood

(1811-07-11)July 11, 1811
Franklin County, Georgia, U.S.
DiedOctober 4, 1889(1889-10-04) (aged 78)
Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.
Resting placeBentonville Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Sarah A. Hilburn
(m. 1833; died 1884)
Alma materUniversity of Georgia

Early life and education


Alfred Burton Greenwood was born to Elizabeth (née Ingram) Hugh B. Greenwood in Franklin County, Georgia on July 11, 1811.[1][2] He was educated in Lawrenceville, Georgia.[2] He graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1832 and relocated to Decatur, Georgia[1] He owned slaves.[3]



In 1837, he was appointed as a quartermaster as part of the Cherokee removal commonly known as the Trail of Tears. Greenwood’s detachment led a grouping of 1,000 native Americans from Georgia and Tennessee to Oklahoma.[4]

In December 1838, after seeing what Arkansas had to offer, he resigned his commission. He moved his family to Bentonville, Arkansas and became the small town's first attorney.[2][5] He went into politics and was elected to two terms in the Arkansas legislature; serving from 1842 to 1845.[1] He served as Arkansas's prosecuting attorney from 1845 to 1851 and the Fourth Judicial Circuit Arkansas from 1851 to 1853.[2][1]



He was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas, and served from March 4, 1853, to March 3, 1859.[1] In 1856, he won re-election to his third term after a bitter debate at the local Democratic Convention, which took 276 ballots before finally settling on Greenwood over Thomas Hindman.[4]

During his final term in office, he served as chairman of the House Committee on Indian Affairs.

Buchanan administration


He was appointed in 1858 as Commissioner of Indian Affairs by President James Buchanan.[2][6] He served in that role from May 13, 1859, to April 13, 1861.[1] He was offered the role of U.S. Secretary of the Interior after Jacob Thompson resigned, but declined the position.[2]

Confederate Congress


With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Arkansas seceded from the Union and Greenwood was elected to the Congress of the Confederate States from Arkansas and served from 1862 to 1865.[1] During this time, Confederate president Jefferson Davis asked Greenwood to try to recruit members of the Cherokee and Choctaw nations into the Confederate army.[4]

In 1864 he was appointed by Jefferson Davis to serve as tax collector for Arkansas.[4]

Later career


In 1873, Greenwood moved to Cassville, Missouri where he practiced law. He was elected as a judge and served in that role until he returned to Arkansas in June 1879.[5]

Personal life


Greenwood married Sarah A. Hilburn (1819–1884) of Union, South Carolina in 1833.[2] Together, they had 12 children.[2][6]



Greenwood died on October 4, 1889, in Bentonville.[1][2][6] He was interred at Bentonville Cemetery.[1][2]



Both Greenwood, Arkansas, and Greenwood County, Kansas, are named after him.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "GREENWOOD, Alfred Burton". Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Greenwood, Judge Alfred Burton". Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "Congress slaveowners", The Washington Post, January 19, 2022, retrieved July 14, 2022
  4. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Alfred Greenwood". Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
  5. ^ a b "Hon. A. B. Greenwood". Daily Arkansas Gazette. February 25, 1880. p. 4. Retrieved August 4, 2021 – via  
  6. ^ a b c "Death of Hon. A. B. Greenwood". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. October 14, 1889. p. 3. Retrieved August 4, 2021 – via  
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by