Archibald Dixon (1802-1876)




Archibald Dixon
  • Born Caswell County, North Carolina, 1802
  • Lawyer
  • Member Kentucky State Legislature
  • Kentucky Lieutenant Governor
  • United States Senator
  • Planter
  • Died 1876 Henderson, Kentucky


Biographical Sketch

The following is from Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volumes 1-7, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 1979-1996 by The University of North Carolina Press, and is published here by permission of the publisher. Note that William S. Powell also authored this article.

Dixon, Archibald (2 Apr. 1802 - 23 Apr. 1876), U.S. senator and lieutenant governor of Kentucky, was born in the Red House community of Caswell County, the son of Wynne and the grandson of Henry ("Hal") Dixon, both revolutionary officers. In 1805 Wynne Dixon and his family moved to Henderson County, Ky., where Archibald spent the remainder of his life. He was educated by his mother and in the local common schools before beginning to study law at the age of twenty. In 1825 he began to practice law and it was said that because of his talent and learning he enjoyed a wide practice until 1860 when he retired. Young Dixon represented Henderson County in the lower house of the Kentucky legislature in 1830 and in 1841 and in the senate between 1836 and 1840. As a member of the Whig party he served as lieutenant governor during the period 1844-48. In 1849 he was a delegate to the convention that drew up a new constitution for the state; by a vote of 48 to 50 he failed to be elected president of the convention. As a candidate for governor in 1851 he was defeated by 850 votes, but on 30 December of that year he was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry Clay. In Congress he was the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill repealing the Missouri Compromise act of 1820. He served in Congress from 1 Sept. 1852 until Mar. 1855 but was not a candidate for reelection, preferring to return to his law practice and to the management of his plantation.

Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War Dixon was described as "unceasing in his efforts to preserve the peace and the Union." Attending a convention of the Border States, he favored their neutrality in the hope that they might form a barrier to halt the tide of sectionalism. When this failed, he remained loyal to the Union but devoted his efforts during the war to aiding Confederate soldiers and sympathizers who were victims of arbitrary arrest. After the was he opposed Republican plans to humiliate the South. In 1863 Dixon was a delegate to the Frankfort peace convention.

In 1834 Dixon married Mrs. Elizabeth B. Pollit and they were the parents of five surviving children; in 1853 he married Sue Bullitt of Jefferson County, Ky., and they were the parents of three children. He was buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson.

See: Bio. Dir. Am. Cong. (1961); Biographical Encyclopaedia of Kentucky (1878); Lewis Collins, History of Kentucky, vol. 2 (1924); Robert R. Russel, "The Issues in the Congressional Struggle Over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 1854," Journal of Southern History 29 (May 1863).

Dixon, Archibald, a Senator from Kentucky; born near Redhouse, Caswell County, N.C., April 2, 1802; moved with his parents to Henderson County, Ky., in 1805; educated by his mother and attended the common schools; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1824 and commenced practice in Henderson, Ky.; member, State house of representatives 1830, 1841; member, State senate 1836; lieutenant governor of Kentucky 1843; member of the State constitutional convention in 1849; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry Clay and served from September 1, 1852, until March 3, 1855; was not a candidate for reelection in 1854; resumed the practice of law; also engaged as a planter; died in Henderson, Ky., April 23, 1876; interment in Fernwood Cemetery.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

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