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Thomas Lanier Clingman

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Thomas Lanier Clingman (July 27, 1812 – November 3, 1897), known as the "Prince of Politicians," was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from 1843 to 1845 and from 1847 to 1858, and U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1858 and 1861. During the Civil War he refused to resign his Senate seat and was one of ten senators expelled from the Senate in absentia. He then served as a general in the Confederate States Army.

Thomas Lanier Clingman
Hon. Thomas L. Clingman, N.C - NARA - 528409.jpg
Born(1812-07-27)July 27, 1812
Huntsville, North Carolina
DiedNovember 3, 1897(1897-11-03) (aged 85)
Morganton, North Carolina
Place of burial
Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army Infantry
Years of service1861-1865
RankBrigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
Other workU.S. senator
U.S. congressman

Early lifeEdit

Clingman, was born in Huntsville, a small community in present-day Yadkin County, North Carolina. His parents were Jacob and Jane Poindexter Clingman and he was named for Dr. Thomas Lanier, his half uncle.[1] He was educated by private tutors and in the public schools in Iredell County, NC. Clingman graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1832, where he was a member of the Dialectic Senate of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. He then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1834 and began practice in Huntsville.

Political careerEdit

Clingman in uniform.

Clingman was elected to the North Carolina State house of commons in 1835. In 1836 he moved to Asheville, North Carolina. He was a member of the North Carolina State senate in 1840. In 1843 Clingman ran as a Whig and was elected to the 28th United States Congress, however he was defeated in his reelection bid in 1845. In 1845 he fought a duel with a fellow congressman William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama. In Yancey's maiden speech on the House floor, he had impugned his opponent's integrity. Both duelists had missed. In 1847 he regained the seat and won reelection in 1849, 1851, 1853, 1855 and 1857. On May 7, 1858, he resigned after becoming a United States Senator as a Democrat the previous day, replacing the resigning Asa Biggs. He was reelected but was expelled from the Senate for support of the Confederacy.

Civil WarEdit

When he first entered the War, Clingman was the commander of the 25th North Carolina Infantry and took part in the Peninsula Campaign. He later commanded a brigade of infantry. Clingman's Brigade consisted of the 8th, 31st, 51st and 61st North Carolina Infantry. Clingman's Brigade fought at Goldsboro, Battery Wagner, Drewry's Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Globe Tavern, Fort Fisher, and Bentonville.

Clingman in his later years

Post-war careerEdit

After the Civil War, Clingman explored and measured mountains in western North Carolina and Tennessee. Tennessee's highest mountain, also partly in North Carolina, was named Clingman's Dome in his honor. He died in Morganton, North Carolina, and was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, North Carolina.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wheeler, John H.. Reminiscences and memoirs of North Carolina and eminent North Carolinians. Columbus, Ohio: Columbus Print. Works, 1884
  2. ^ "Riverside Cemetery". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2008-02-25.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kenneth Rayner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1843 – March 4, 1845
Succeeded by
James Graham
Preceded by
James Graham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1847 – March 4, 1853
Succeeded by
Henry Marchmore Shaw
Preceded by
Edward Stanly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th congressional district

March 4, 1853 – May 7, 1858
Succeeded by
Zebulon B. Vance
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Asa Biggs
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
Served alongside: David S. Reid, Thomas Bragg
Succeeded by
vacant 1
Notes and references
1. North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861. Seat declared vacant until John Pool was elected after North Carolina's readmission into the Union