Amos Tappan Akerman was born in New Hampshire on February 23, 1821. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842, and was admitted to the bar. He moved to Elberton, Georgia, in 1850 to practice law. During the Civil War, Akerman served in the quartermaster's department of the Confederacy. Akerman was appointed district attorney for Georgia in 1869. President Grant appointed him Attorney General of the United States on June 23, 1870, and he held that office until 1872. He died in Cartersville, Georgia, on December 21, 1880.