Thompson, Jacob

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Jacob Thompson, 1810–85, U.S. Representative (1839–51) and Secretary of the Interior (1857–61), b. Caswell co., N.C. Thompson was a prosperous lawyer and prominent Democrat of Oxford, Miss. He was a member of President Buchanan's cabinet until the Fort Sumter crisis, and Mississippi's secession led him to resign in Jan., 1861. In the Civil War he served in the Confederate army, and in 1864 he became a Confederate agent in Canada. There he tried unsuccessfully to persuade Copperhead elements in the North to take up arms against the Union. Falsely accused of complicity in President Lincoln's assassination, he fled to Europe, where he remained for several years, and later lived in Memphis.