James Philemon Holcombe (September 20, 1820 – August 22, 1873) was a prominent Confederate politician. He was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, raised in Lynchburg, educated at Yale and the University of Virginia Law School, practiced law in Ohio, and later was a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He authored several important legal treatises, including An Introduction to Equity Jurisprudence.
Although his parents freed their slaves and later moved to Indiana, Holcombe spoke widely in favor of slavery. He delivered an address "Is Slavery Consistent With Natural Law?" in 1858 on slavery's consistency with natural law. Holcombe had a political theory based on ideas of heierarchy, which explicitly reversed Jefferson's theme from the Declaration of Independence that all people are created equal. He thought people were naturally unequal and that was his primary argument for slavery. This theme was also developed by Holcombe's UVA colleague Albert Taylor Bledsoe. Holcombe's other public addresses include an address to the Virginia Historical Society on the American Revolution and an 1853 address to the University of Virginia alumni on the importance of education. During the secession crisis, Professor Holcombe delivered a speech to the voters of Albemarle County and then advocated secession in Richmond's Secession Convention's debates in March 1861.
During the War, Holcombe represented his district in the First Confederate Congress. He did not return to The University after the American Civil War, but established a high school for boys at Bellevue near Goode, Virginia. It functioned into the late-19th century.