James was born in Fredericksburg on July 13, 1815, and an early age came under the influence of his aristocratic uncle Philip Alexander, an old-school states rights local political leader. James attended the upscale Fredericksburg Grammar School, then went off to Yale College in 1831. He studied the works of states righter John Taylor of Caroline, read the fiery antigovernment speeches of John Randolph, and became fast friends with his classmates Louis Wigfall and William J. Robertson, young men who would later help to further his career. In 1845, he married the very rich Sarah Sallie Bruce at Richmond's elite St. Pails Episcopal Church in the society wedding of the year. The Virginians first major task was to deal with the results of the debacle at Sharpsburg. He ably assisted Robert E. Lee during late 1862, to reorganize the Army of Northern Virginia. Edward A. Pollard in early histories of the Confederacy, blamed Seddon for the losses Vicksburg and Atlanta.