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  Breckinridge, Robert Jefferson
NameRobert Jefferson Breckinridge
, Kentucky , United States
Born March 08, 1800
DiedDecember 27, 1871 (71 years)
Last ModifedRBH
Dec 31, 2010 09:13pm
InfoRobert Jefferson Breckinridge (March 8, 1800 – December 27, 1871) was a politician and Presbyterian minister. He was a member of the Breckinridge family of Kentucky, the son of Senator John Breckinridge.

A restless youth, Breckinridge was suspended from Princeton University for fighting, and following his graduation from Union College in 1819, was prone to engage in a lifestyle of partying and revelry. Nevertheless, he was admitted to the bar in 1824 and elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 1825. A serious illness and the death of a child in 1829 prompted him to turn to religion, and he became an ordained minister in 1832.

Breckinridge accepted the call to pastor the Second[a] Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, Maryland in 1832. While at the church, he became involved in a number of theological debates. During the Old School-New School controversy within the Presbyterian Church in the 1830s, Breckinridge became a hard-line member of the Old School faction, and played an influential role in the ejection of several churches in 1837. He was rewarded for his stances by being elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly in 1841.

After a brief stint as president of Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, Breckinridge returned to Kentucky, where he pastored the First Presbyterian church of Lexington, Kentucky and was appointed superintendent of public education by Governor William Owsley. The changes he effected in this office brought a tenfold increase in public school attendance and led to him being called the father of the public school system in Kentucky.[1] He left his post as superintendent after six years to become a professor at Danville Theological Seminary in Danville, Kentucky.

As the sectional conflict leading up to the Civil War escalated, Breckinridge was put in the unusual position of being a slaveholder who opposed slavery. His support of Abraham Lincoln for president in the election of 1860 put him at odds with his nephew, John C. Breckinridge. The tragic scenario of brother against brother literally played out in Breckinridge's family, with two of his sons joining each side during the war. Following the war, Breckinridge retired to his home in Danville, where he died on December 27, 1871.


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Daughter Marie Breckinridge Handy 0000-
Grandson L. Irving Handy 1861-1922
Son Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, Jr. 1833-1915
Son William C. P. Breckinridge 1837-1904
Son Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, Sr. 1842-1920
Grandson Scott Breckinridge 1882-1941
Grandson Henry Skillman Breckinridge 1886-1960
Father John Breckinridge 1760-1806
Grandfather Robert Preston Breckinridge 1720-1772
Great-Grandfather Alexander Breckinridge 1670-1743
Uncle Alexander Breckinridge 0000-
1st Cousin James D. Breckinridge 0000-1849
Uncle James C. Breckinridge 1763-1833
Sister Letitia Breckinridge Porter 0000-
Nephew Peter A. Porter 1827-1864
Brother John Cabell Breckinridge 1788-1823
Nephew John Cabell Breckinridge 1821-1875
Brother John Breckinridge 1797-1841
Niece Mary Breckinridge Porter 0000-
Nephew Samuel M. Breckinridge 0000-