Howell Cobb, an American politician, born at Cherry Hill, Ga., Sept. 7, 1815, died in New York, Oct. 9, 1868. He graduated at Franklin college in 1834, and was admitted to the bar in 1836. In 1837 he was elected by the legislature solicitor general of the western circuit. He began his congressional career in 1843, having been elected to the house of representatives, in which by three successive reelections he sat till 1851. He was distinguished for his familiarity with the rules of the house, his skill as a debater, his strong professions of attachment to the Union, and his equally earnest advocacy of state rights. He became the leader of the southern party in the house, and upon the assembling of the 31st congress in December, 1849, he was elected speaker after a violent contest. He demanded the extension of slavery into California and New Mexico by federal authority, and supported the compromise measures of 1850. In 1851 he was elected governor of Georgia, defeating the candidate of the extreme southern rights party, which opposed the compromise.
At the expiration of his term in 1853 he resumed the practice of the law, but in 1855 was again elected to congress, and in 1856 made a tour through the north to support the election of Mr. Buchanan. In March, 1857, he became secretary of the treasury in President Buchanan's cabinet, and held that office till Dec. 10, 1860, when he resigned to engage in the secession movement. In February, 1861, he became president of the confederate congress assembled at Montgomery, Ala., and afterward transferred to Richmond, but retired Feb. 18, 1862, on account of misunderstandings with Jefferson Davis. Subsequently he was commissioned a major general, but took little part in military movements. After the close of the war he continued hostile to the reconstruction policy of the government. He died suddenly of heart disease, while on a visit to New York.