Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Amos T. Akerman (1870–1871): Attorney General

Amos Tappan Akerman was born in 1821 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842, and worked as a teacher in North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia. He then studied the law and opened a firm in Georgia, where he practiced until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860.

Though he opposed secession, Akerman joined the Confederate Army and saw action in several battles. He ultimately changed his views and began to oppose slavery. Akerman was a member to Georgia’s 1868 state constitutional convention and began serving as U.S. district attorney for Georgia in 1869. One year later, President Ulysses S. Grant tapped Akerman to become his second attorney general, following the resignation of Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar.

During Akerman’s tenure, he dealt with the Credit Mobilier scandal, railroad magnates, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It was his open and active opposition to the KKK that led advisors to pressure President Grant into asking for Akerman’s resignation. Akerman, though angry, complied with Grant’s request and resigned on 1872, never to hold public office again. Amos Tappan Akerman returned to Georgia, where he practiced law until his death in 1880.