Beriah Magoffin (April 18, 1815 – February 28, 1885) was the 21st Governor of Kentucky, serving during the early part of the American Civil War. Personally, Magoffin adhered to a states' rights position, including the right of a state to secede from the Union, and he sympathized with the Confederate cause. Nevertheless, when the Kentucky General Assembly adopted a position of neutrality in the war, Magoffin ardently held to it, refusing calls for aid from both the Union and Confederate governments.
In special elections held in June 1861, Unionists captured nine of Kentucky's ten congressional seats and obtained two-thirds majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Despite Magoffin's strict adherence to the policy of neutrality, the Unionist legislature did not trust him and routinely overrode his vetoes. Unable to provide effective leadership due to a hostile legislature, Magoffin agreed to resign as governor in 1862, provided he could choose his successor. Lieutenant governor Linn Boyd had died in office, and Magoffin refused to allow Speaker of the Senate John F. Fisk to succeed him as governor. Accordingly, Fisk resigned and the Kentucky Senate elected Magoffin's choice, James F. Robinson, as speaker. Magoffin then resigned, Robinson ascended to the governorship, and Fisk was re-elected as Speaker of the Senate.
After the war, he encouraged acceptance of the Union victory and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Magoffin County, Kentucky was named in his honor.
Beriah Magoffin in The Guns of the South
While neither Senator Magoffin's first name nor his home state are specified, the preponderance of historical figures in this CS government makes it likely that he is Beriah Magoffin.
- The Guns of the South, p. 530
Charles S. Morehead
|Governor of Kentucky
James Fisher Robinson