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Miller, Stephen Franks

by Patricia J. Miller, 1991

22 Nov. 1805–22 Oct. 1873

Stephen Franks Miller, author, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Jones County seven miles from Trenton, the son of James Miller. When he was seven, he attended a school at the end of Parsons Lane, in Jones County, where he was taught by John Alonzo Attmore. At age seventeen, Miller left the farm where he had been raised and moved to New Bern. There he worked as a clerk for Samuel Simpson, with responsibility for the warehouse and wharf connected with Simpson's shipping interests, until 1824, when he moved to Georgia.

Miller studied law and was admitted to the bar at age twenty-two. He then practiced law in Twiggs County, Ga., until the Georgia legislature elected him solicitor general of the Southern Circuit. After serving in that post for four years, he moved to Livingston, Ala., where he practiced law and occasionally wrote for newspapers. In 1840 he became editor of a Whig journal, the Independent Monitor, a position he held until 1847. He published an article, "The Heads of the Alabama Legislature," in 1843. In 1847 Miller moved to New Orleans, La., and became statistical editor of DeBow's Review and an associate in the editorial management of the Daily Commercial Times.

Because of failing health, Miller moved to Oglethorpe, Ga., in 1849. While he was living in Oglethorpe, his two-volume work, The Bench and Bar of Georgia, was published in 1858. Soon afterwards, he sent copies to President David L. Swain of The University of North Carolina for the university library—these volumes are now located in the library's North Carolina Collection. During these years, Miller also wrote Wilkins Wyler; or, The Successful Man (1860), Memoir of the Late General Blackshear (1858), and "Recollections of New Bern of Fifty Years Ago," which appeared in Stephen Pool's Our Living and Our Dead (1874). For a while during the Civil War, he was editor of the Southern Recorder in Milledgeville, Ga.

In addition, Miller was the author of many essays, tracts, and literary addresses and reportedly maintained a library of pamphlets and documents bound in fifty volumes. He assisted William Garrett with the compilation of Reminiscences of Public Men in Georgia (1872); in the preface, Garrett acknowledged that Miller's pamphlet collection had been invaluable in writing the book. While gathering information on various collections in 1901, the Alabama Historical Society was told by some of Miller's relatives that his library had been destroyed.

Miller was married as a young man and had a son, D. James A., who later lived in Wilmington, N.C. His first wife died in 1860, and in 1862 he married Jane J. Windsor. Miller died in Columbus, Ga., after having been basically an invalid for twenty-five years. Volume 4 of Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (1888) and the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1899) wrongly state that Miller died in 1867.

References:

Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. 4 (1888).

C. C. Clay Papers, Georgia Portfolio, and James D. B. DeBow Letters and Papers (Manuscript Department, Duke University Library, Durham).

William Garrett, Reminiscences of Public Men in Georgia (1872).

Stephen F. Miller, The Bench and Bar of Georgia (1858) and "Recollections of New Bern of Fifty Years Ago," in Stephen Pool, ed., Our Living and Our Dead, vol. 1 (1874).

National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1899).

Publications of the Alabama Historical Society, misc. collections, vol. 1 (1901).

Benjamin Yancey Collection and Gaston Papers (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Additional Resources:

[Miller, Stephen Franks]. Heads of the Alabama legislature: at the session of 1842-3. Tuskaloosa, (Ala.): M. D. J. Slade. 1843. https://archive.org/details/headsofalabamale00mill (accessed September 19, 2014).

Miller, Stephen Franks. Memoir of Gen. David Blackshear: Including Letters. J.B. Lippincott. 1858. https://archive.org/details/memoirgendavidb00millgoog (accessed September 19, 2014).

Miller, Stephen Franks. Ahab Lincoln: a tragedy of the Potomac. Chicago: Civil War Round Table. 1958. https://archive.org/details/ahablincolntrage00mill (accessed September 19, 2014).

 

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Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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