Thomas Lanier Clingman

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Thomas Clingham
Hon. Thomas L. Clingman, N.C - NARA - 528409.jpg
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
May 7, 1858 – March 11, 1861
Preceded byAsa Biggs
Succeeded byJohn Pool (1868)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina
In office
March 4, 1853 – May 7, 1858
Preceded byEdward Stanly
Succeeded byZebulon Vance
Constituency8th district
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1853
Preceded byJames Graham
Succeeded byHenry Shaw
Constituency1st district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1845
Preceded byKenneth Rayner
Succeeded byJames Graham
Constituency1st district
Personal details
Thomas Lanier Clingham

(1812-07-27)July 27, 1812
Huntsville, North Carolina
DiedOctober 3, 1897(1897-10-03) (aged 85)
Morganton, North Carolina, U.S.
Resting placeRiverside Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (BA)
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States
Branch/service Confederate States Army Infantry
Years of service1861–1865
RankBrigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
 • Peninsula Campaign
 • Battle of Goldsboro Bridge
 • Battery Wagner
 • Drewry's Bluff
 • Battle of Cold Harbor
 • Siege of Petersburg
 • Battle of Globe Tavern
 • Fort Fisher
 • Battle of Bentonville

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.

Early life[edit]

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 career[edit]

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 War[edit]

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 career[edit]

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 also[edit]


  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 reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
Served alongside: David Reid, Thomas Bragg
Title next held by
John Pool