Alabama Attorneys General

Ala. Attorney General Henry Clay Tompkins


Henry Clay Tompkins

Attorney General: 1878-1884


Henry Clay Tompkins was born September 14, 1845, in Essex County, Va., and died September 12, 1898, in Montgomery; the son of Joseph Temple and Jane Ford Tompkins, the former a native of King William County, Va., a farmer and a soldier of the War of 1812, the latter a native of Fredericksburg, Va.; grandson of Christopher and Ann Temple (Fleet) Tompkins of Virginia, the former a captain in the Continental army and a participant in the seige of Yorktown, and of John Taylor and Martha (Gregory) Ford, of Fredericksburg, Va. The Tompkins family was of English stock, while the Fords were of Scotch and English origin. Col. Tompkins was educated in the schools and academies of Virginia and was pursuing his studies at the outbreak of the war between the states. In 1862 at the age of sixteen, he enlisted as a private in the 4th Virginia cavalry regiment and with this command served two years under Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. He was transferred to the infantry branch of the service and commissioned lieutenant and was acting adjutant of the regiment at the close of the war. He was captured at Sailor's Creek, April 6, 1865, and imprisoned on Johnson's Island where he was held until peace was declared. He removed from Virginia to Alabama in 1866, and at once began to teach school, a profession he followed for three years, during which time he read law and was admitted to the bar at Union Springs, Bullock County, February 1869.


He was elected Attorney General of the State, 1878, and held that office until December 1884, having been twice re-elected. He was chairman of the Democratic committee of Bullock County from 1874 to 1877 and contributed to the downfall of scalawag and carpetbag rule. He was elected chairman of the State Democratic Committee in 1886 and held the position for a number of years. He became identified with the State troops in 1875 and was elected lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Alabama regiment in 1877. He represented the State at large as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that nominated Grover Cleveland for president, 1884, and made an active campaign throughout the State for his election. He was also a delegate to the National convention in 1889; one of the organizers and a director in the Commercial Fire Insurance Company of Montgomery; president of the Alabama Bar Association and legal adviser for a number of corporations over the State. On accepting the office of Attorney General of Alabama he removed to Montgomery and continued his residence in that city until his death. Married: April, 1869, Annie, daughter of Hon. Marion A. and Celia (Fitzpatrick) Baldwin. Children: 1. Mary Celia, d. in infancy; 2. Gus Baldwin, died in infancy; 3. Annie Baldwin, died, age thirteen; Mattie Henry, m. Berto Henry Johnson, three children, (1) Henry Clay, (2) Berto Henry, (3) Herbert Lee; 5. Henry Clay, d. in infancy; 6. Henry Clay, unmarried. Last residence: Montgomery.


Thomas McAdory Owen. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978, reprint 1921), 1674-5.


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