John C. Breckinridge was the only U.S. vice president ever to take up arms against the U.S.
Strangely enough, he also once lived in the house where Abraham Lincoln died.
When Breckinridge was a U.S. Congressman in the 1850s, he rented the two front rooms at Petersen’s Boarding House, the same house where President Lincoln was taken after the assassination.
The president’s bearers tried the door that once led to Breckinridge’s rooms on assassination night, but it was locked because the current resident was quickly dressing out of her bed clothes after she heard the commotion across the street at Ford’s Theatre.
Breckinridge had a stellar career in American politics, elected vice-president at 35 and even running for president in 1860 in a four-way race that his friend Abraham Lincoln won.
The Kentuckian tried mightily to keep his home state from leaving the Union. When he failed and was forced to choose between his home and his country, he became a Confederate general.
On this day in 1864, General Breckinridge took control of Confederate forces in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia. He stayed in that role until he was named secretary of war for the Confederacy in the last weeks of the war.
He fled to Cuba and Europe after the war, until President Andrew Johnson extended official amnesty. Then he returned to Kentucky and opened a law office where he worked until he died in 1875 at age 54.