Howell Cobb, 1815–68, American politican, b. Jefferson co., Ga. In 1837 he became solicitor general of the western judicial circuit of Georgia, a district populated largely by small farmers of Unionist sentiments. He championed their cause and from 1843 to 1851 represented them in the House of Representatives. He was elected floor leader of the Democrats in 1848 and speaker in 1849. Cobb united with the Whigs in Georgia to win approval of the Compromise of 1850. His followers and the Whigs formed the short-lived Constitutional Union party, which elected him to the governorship (1851–53). Cobb was returned to Congress in 1855, and in 1857 President Buchanan appointed him Secretary of the Treasury. After Lincoln's election he resigned, advocated secession, and was chairman of the convention in Montgomery, Ala., that organized the Confederacy. In the Civil War he rose to the rank of major general (1863) but saw little active fighting.
See H. Montgomery, Howell Cobb's Confederate Career (1959).