Absolom M. West

Absolom Madden West (1818 – September 30, 1894) was a Southern politician, soldier, railroad president and labor organizer.

Absolom M. West was born in Alabama, where his father Anderson West was a county sheriff. His family obtained Federal land grants in Mississippi and moved to Holmes County, Mississippi, in 1837, where he became a plantation owner. He won election to the State Senate of that state as a Whig in 1847. In 1853 he became an officer of the newly formed Mississippi Central Railroad.Stone, J.H. General Absolom Madden West and the Civil War in Mississippi. J. Miss. Hist. 42:135-144]

Although initially an opponent of secession, when the American Civil War broke out West became a brigadier general in the Mississippi State Militia [Allardice, B.S. "More Generals in Gray" Louisiana State University Press, BatonRouge 1995. pp. 233-234.)] . He raised a regiment, and later assumed various administrative offices for the state. Sometimes simultaneously, he served as quartermaster-general, paymaster-general, and commissary-general. At his direction, the legislature established a commission consisting of one lawyer and two businessmen to examine and audit the books and papers of his several offices. At the end of the Civil War, West was the only officer of the state to make a final accounting. [Lause, Mark A. "The Civil War's Last Campaign: James B. Weaver, the Greenback-Labor Party & the Politics of Race & Section." (Lanpham, Md.: University Press of America, 2001)] After 1864, West also served as president of the Mississippi Central Railroad, which by that time had been mostly destroyed by the contending armies. After the war, the railroad was sold to the Illinois Central, and West was returned to the State Senate.

Soon thereafter, he was elected to the Federal House of Representatives although he, along with the rest of the unreconstructed Mississippi delegation, was not permitted to be seated. In the years that followed, West established a branch of the National Labor Union, and served as a Democratic elector for President in the election of 1876.

Re-elected to the State Senate, he soon became disenchanted with the Democrats, and joined the Greenback party. For that party, West was a candidate for Vice President on the ticket of Benjamin Franklin Butler in 1884.

He died at Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1894.


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