John Buchanan Floyd, Secretary of War (American National Biography)

William G. Shade, "Floyd, John Buchanan,” American National Biography Online, February 2000,
[President James] Buchanan, seeking a Virginian for his cabinet, brought Floyd in as secretary of war when [Henry Alexander] Wise turned down the offer of a position as secretary of state. There Floyd acted with the "directory" of prosouthern advisers, repudiating Robert J. Walker's handling of the situation in Kansas and favoring the acceptance of the proslavery Lecompton constitution. Unfortunately, he became infamous for his slipshod administration of the War Department. Not only did Floyd favor his friends and relatives in awarding government contracts, but he also became increasingly involved in issuing "acceptances" that allowed contractors to borrow money against their promissory notes signed by the secretary of war…Throughout his political career, Floyd had been a states' rights Democrat and an outspoken defender of slavery and southern rights. On 3 December 1860 he asserted that he was "not for secession as long as any honorable effort can be made to preserve the Union…guaranteeing…protection to the negro property of the South." As southern states began to secede and the charges of misconduct mounted against him, Floyd increasingly embraced secession. Once Virginia had seceded, Floyd raised a brigade of volunteers and joined in the attempt to secure western Virginia for the Confederacy. Although he took part in the minor engagements at Cross Lanes and Carnifex Ferry, Floyd spent most of his energies in western Virginia bickering with his fellow officer Wise. His performance was generally inept and his troops were driven back.
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