James Alexander Seddon was born to Thomas Seddon (1776-06 October 1831) and Susan Pearson Alexander in Falmouth, Stafford County, Virginia on 13 July 1815. He was privately tutored before attending University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, and graduated from its school of law in 1835. He was admitted to the bar in 1838, built a successful law practice in Richmond, married Sarah Bruce (22 March 1822-28 March 1882) on 23 December 1845, and for a time lived in what is now known as the White House of the Confederacy.

     Seddon served as a U.S. Representative from Virginia from 04 March 1845 to 03 March 1847, then again from 04 March 1849 to 03 March 1851. In poor health, he remained semi-retired for the next several years. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1856, and prior to the secession of his home state, was a delegate to the failed Washington Peace Conference.

     During the war, he was a delegate from Virginia to the Provisional Confederate Congress, and President Jefferson Davis (03 June 1808-06 December 1889) appointed him Secretary of War on 21 November 1862. Seddon held the position longest, primarily for his diplomacy skills in dealing with Davis personally as well as his handling of dissenting commanders and Anti-Davis bureaucrats. However, as the fortunes of the Confederacy turned for the worse, accusations from Congress came his direction. Despite Davis urging him to stay, he resigned from office, 06 February 1865.

     He was arrested on 23 May 1865 and imprisoned with John Archibald Campbell (24 June 1811-12 March 1889), Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (21 April 1809-18 July 1887), and George Alfred Trenholm (25 February 1807-09 November 1876) at Fort Pulaski, near Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia. Following his release on 23 November 1865, he retired to his estate "Sabot Hill", in Goochland County, Virginia, where he died, 19 August 1880. Seddon is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

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