Jefferson Davis: Wikis


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Jefferson Davis

In office
February 18, 1861 – May 5, 1865
(&0000000000000004.0000004 years, &0000000000000076.00000076 days)
Vice President Alexander Stephens
Preceded by Office instituted
Howell Cobb (Provisional head of state as the Congress President)
Succeeded by Office abolished
End of the Confederate States, Reconstruction

In office
March 7, 1853 – March 4, 1857
President Franklin Pierce
Preceded by Charles Magill Conrad
Succeeded by John Buchanan Floyd

In office
August 10, 1847 – September 23, 1851
Preceded by Jesse Speight
Succeeded by John J. McRae
In office
March 4, 1857 – January 21, 1861[1]
Preceded by Stephen Adams
Succeeded by Secession
Adelbert Ames (1870)

In office
March 4, 1845 – June 1846
Served with: Stephen Adams, Robert W. Roberts and Jacob Thompson
Preceded by William H. Hammett
Robert W. Roberts
Jacob Thompson
Tilghman M. Tucker
Succeeded by Henry T. Ellett

In office
Preceded by Thomas Hart Benton
Succeeded by James Shields
In office
Preceded by John Weller
Succeeded by James Wilson

Born June 3, 1808(1808-06-03)
Christian County, Kentucky
Died December 6, 1889 (aged 81)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sarah Knox Taylor
Varina Howell
Alma mater Jefferson College
Transylvania University
United States Military Academy
Profession Soldier, Politician
Religion Episcopal
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Mississippi Rifles
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
First wife, Sarah Knox Taylor

Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American military officer, statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as the president of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865.

A West Point graduate, Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States secretary of war under Pres. Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce Administration, he served as a U.S. senator representing the State of Mississippi. As a senator he argued against secession, but believed each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.

Davis resigned from the Senate in January 1861[1] after receiving word that Mississippi had seceded from the Union. The following month, he was provisionally appointed president of the Confederate States of America and was elected to a six-year term that November. During his presidency, Davis was not able to find a strategy to defeat the more industrially-developed Union, even though the South only lost roughly one soldier for every two Union soldiers on the battlefield.

After Davis was captured May 10, 1865, he was charged with treason, though not tried, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. This limitation was posthumously removed by order of Congress and President Jimmy Carter in 1978, 89 years after his death. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by its leading general, Robert E. Lee.


Early life and military career

Davis was the youngest of the 10 children of Samuel Emory Davis (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 1756 – July 4, 1824) and wife (married 1783) Jane Cook (Christian County, (later Todd County), Kentucky, 1759 – October 3, 1845), daughter of William Cook and wife Sarah Simpson, daughter of Samuel Simpson (1706 – 1791) and wife Hannah (b. 1710). The younger Davis's grandfather, Evan Davis (Cardiff, County Glamorgan, 1729 – 1758), emigrated from Wales and had once lived in Virginia and Maryland, marrying Lydia Emory. His father, along with his uncles, had served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War; he fought with the Georgia cavalry and fought in the Siege of Savannah as an infantry officer. Also, three of his older brothers served during the War of 1812. Two of them served under Andrew Jackson and received commendation for bravery in the Battle of New Orleans.

During Davis's youth, the family moved twice; in 1811 to St. Mary Parish, Louisiana and in 1812 to Wilkinson County, Mississippi near the town of Woodville. In 1813 Davis began his education together with his sister Mary, attending a log cabin school, the Wilkinson Academy, a mile from their home in the small town of Woodville. Two years later, Davis entered the Catholic school of Saint Thomas at St. Rose Priory, a school operated by the Dominican Order in Washington County, Kentucky. At the time, he was the only Protestant student.

Davis went on to Jefferson College at Washington, Mississippi, in 1818, and to Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1821. In 1824 Davis entered the United States Military Academy (West Point).[2] He completed his 4-year term as a West Point cadet, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1828 following graduation.[3]

Davis was assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment and was stationed at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin. His first assignment in 1829 was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red Cedar River for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year, he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill along the Yellow River in Iowa in 1831, he contracted pneumonia, causing him to return to Fort Crawford.[4]

The year after, Davis was dispatched to Galena, Illinois, at the head of a detachment assigned to remove miners from lands claimed by the Native Americans. Lt. Davis was home in Mississippi for the entire Black Hawk War, returning after the Battle of Bad Axe. Following the conflict, he was assigned by his colonel, Zachary Taylor, to escort Black Hawk himself to prison—it is said that the chief liked Davis because of the kind treatment he had shown. Another of Davis's duties during this time was to keep miners from illegally entering what would eventually become the state of Iowa.

Marriage, plantation life, and early political career

Davis fell in love with Zachary Taylor's daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor. Her father did not approve of the match, so Davis resigned his commission and married Miss Taylor on June 17, 1835, at the house of her aunt near Louisville, Kentucky. The marriage proved to be short. While visiting Davis's oldest sister near Saint Francisville, Louisiana, both newlyweds contracted malaria, and Davis's wife died three months after the wedding on September 15, 1835. In 1836 he moved to Brierfield Plantation in Warren County, Mississippi. For the next eight years, Davis was a recluse, studying government and history, and engaging in private political discussions with his brother Joseph.[2]

The year 1844 saw Davis's first political success, as he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, taking office on March 4 of the following year. In 1845 Davis married Varina Howell, the granddaughter of the late New Jersey Governor Richard Howell whom he met the year before, at her home in Natchez, Mississippi.

Jefferson and Varina Howell Davis had six children, but only one survived young adulthood and married:

  • Samuel Emory Davis, b. July 30, 1852; d. June 13, 1854
  • Margaret Howell Davis, b. February 25, 1855; d. July 18, 1909; married Joel Addison Hayes Jr.(1848–1919), five children
  • Jefferson Davis, Jr., b. January 16, 1857; d. October 16, 1878; never married
  • Joseph Evan Davis, b. April 18, 1859; d. April 30, 1864
  • William Howell Davis, b. December 6, 1861; d. October 16, 1872
  • Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis, b. June 27, 1864; d. September 18, 1898; never married

There is a portrait of Mrs. Jefferson Davis in old age at the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library in Biloxi, Mississippi, painted by Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) in 1895 and dubbed 'Widow of the Confederacy'. It was exhibited at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in New York in 1897. The Museum of the Confederacy at Richmond, Virginia, possesses Müller-Ury's 1897-98 profile portrait of their daughter Winnie Davis which the artist presented to the Museum in 1918.

Second wife, Varina Howell

Second military career

In 1846 the Mexican-American War began. Davis resigned his house seat in June and raised a volunteer regiment, the Mississippi Rifles, becoming its colonel.[5]

On July 21, 1846, they sailed from New Orleans for the Texas coast. Davis armed the regiment with the M1841 Mississippi Riflepercussion rifles and trained the regiment in their use, making it particularly effective in combat.[5]

In September 1846 Davis participated in the successful siege of Monterrey.[6]

On February 22, 1847, Davis fought bravely at the Battle of Buena Vista and was shot in the foot, being carried to safety by Robert H. Chilton. In recognition of Davis's bravery and initiative, commanding general Zachary Taylor is reputed to have said: "My daughter, sir, was a better judge of men than I was."[2]

On May 17, 1847, Pres. James K. Polk offered[7] Davis a Federal commission as a brigadier general and command of a brigade of militia. He declined the appointment arguing that the United States Constitution gives the power of appointing militia officers to the states, and not to the Federal government of the United States.[7]

Narciso López sought both Davis and Robert E. Lee to lead his first filibuster expedition to Cuba, but both turned him down.[8]

Return to politics



Because of his war service, the governor of Mississippi appointed Davis to fill out the senate term of the late Jesse Speight. He took his seat December 5, 1847, and was elected to serve the remainder of his term in January 1848. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution appointed him a regent at the end of December 1847.

Davis introduced an amendment to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to annex most of northeastern Mexico. It failed 44-11.

The senate made Davis chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. When his term expired he was elected to the same seat (by the Mississippi legislature, as the constitution mandated at the time). He had not served a year when he resigned (in September 1851) to run for the governorship of Mississippi on the issue of the Compromise of 1850, which Davis opposed. This election bid was unsuccessful, as he was defeated by fellow Senator Henry Stuart Foote by 999 votes.[9]

Left without political office, Davis continued his political activity. He took part in a convention on states' rights, held at Jackson, Mississippi, in January 1852. In the weeks leading up to the presidential election of 1852, he campaigned in numerous Southern states for Democratic candidates Franklin Pierce and William R. King.

Secretary of war

Pierce won the election and in 1853 made Davis his secretary of war.[10] In this capacity, Davis gave Congress four annual reports (in December of each year), as well as an elaborate one (submitted on February 22, 1855) on various routes for the proposed transcontinental railroad, and promoted the Gadsden Purchase of today's southern Arizona from Mexico. The Pierce Administration ended in 1857. The president lost the Democratic nomination, which went instead to James Buchanan. Davis's term was to end with Pierce's, so he ran successfully for the senate, and re-entered it on March 4, 1857.

Return to senate

His renewed service in the senate was interrupted by an illness that threatened him with the loss of his left eye. Still nominally serving in the senate, Davis spent the summer of 1858 in Portland, Maine. On the Fourth of July, he delivered an anti-secessionist speech on board a ship near Boston. He again urged the preservation of the Union on October 11 in Faneuil Hall, Boston, and returned to the senate soon after.

As Davis explained in his memoir The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he believed that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union. He counseled delay among his fellow Southerners, because he did not think that the North would permit the peaceable exercise of the right to secession. Having served as secretary of war under Pres. Franklin Pierce, he also knew that the South lacked the military and naval resources necessary to defend itself if war were to break out. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, however, events accelerated. South Carolina adopted an ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, and Mississippi did so on January 9, 1861. As soon as Davis received official notification of that fact, he delivered a farewell address to the United States Senate, resigned and returned to Mississippi.

President of the Confederate States February 18, 1861–May 5, 1865

Jefferson Davis on 5 and 10 Cent CSA postage stamps (1862 & 1863)
Jefferson Davis being sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861, on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol.

Four days after his resignation, Davis was commissioned a major general of Mississippi troops.[2] On February 9, 1861, a constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama, named him provisional president of the Confederate States of America and he was inaugurated on February 18, 1861. In meetings of his own Mississippi legislature, Davis had argued against secession; but when a majority of the delegates opposed him, he gave in.

In conformity with a resolution of the Confederate Congress, Davis immediately appointed a Peace Commission to resolve the Confederacy's differences with the Union. In March 1861, before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the commission was to travel to Washington, D.C., to offer to pay for any Federal property on Southern soil, as well as the Southern portion of the national debt; but it was not authorized to discuss terms for reunion. He appointed Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard to command Confederate troops in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina. He approved the cabinet decision to bombard Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. When Virginia switched from neutrality and joined the Confederacy, he moved his government to Richmond, Virginia in May 1861. Davis and his family took up his residence there at the White House of the Confederacy in late May.

Davis was elected to a 6-year term as president of the Confederacy on November 6, 1861. He had never served a full term in any elective office, and that would turn out to be the case on this occasion as well. He was inaugurated on February 22, 1862. In June 1862 he assigned Gen. Robert E. Lee to replace the wounded Joseph E. Johnston in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the main Confederate army in the Eastern Theater. That December he made a tour of Confederate armies in the west of the country. Davis largely made the main strategic decisions on his own, or approved those suggested by Lee. He had a very small circle of military advisers. Jefferson Davis openly pushed for the acquisition of Cuba upon completion of the Civil War.

In August 1863 Davis declined Gen. Lee's offer of resignation after his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. As Confederate military fortunes turned for the worse in 1864, he visited Georgia with the intent of raising morale.

In April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate Cabinet, leaving on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. He issued his last official proclamation as president of the Confederacy, and then went south to Greensboro, North Carolina. Circa April 12, he received Robert E. Lee's letter announcing surrender.

President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865, in Washington, Georgia, and the Confederate Government was officially dissolved. The meeting took place at the Heard house, the Georgia Branch Bank Building, with 14 officials present. He was captured on May 10, 1865, at Irwinville in Irwin County, Georgia.[11] In the confusion of the capture, Davis' wife, Varina, threw her shawl around him leading to persistent rumors and caricatures of him being captured in women's clothing.[12] After being captured he was held as a prisoner for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Administration and Cabinet

The Davis Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Jefferson Davis 1861–1865
Vice President Alexander Stephens 1861–1865
Secretary of State Robert Toombs 1861
Robert M. T. Hunter 1861–1862
Judah P. Benjamin 1862–1865
Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger 1861–1864
George Trenholm 1864–1865
John H. Reagan 1865
Secretary of War Leroy P. Walker 1861
Judah P. Benjamin 1861–1862
George W. Randolph 1862
James Seddon 1862–1865
John C. Breckinridge 1865
Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory 1861–1865
Postmaster General John H. Reagan 1861–1865
Attorney General Judah P. Benjamin 1861
Thomas Bragg 1861–1862
Thomas H. Watts 1862–1863
George Davis 1864–1865
Confederate postage stamp featuring President Jefferson Davis.

Imprisonment and retirement

On May 19, 1865, Davis was imprisoned in a casemate at Fortress Monroe, on the coast of Virginia. He was placed in irons for three days. Davis was indicted for treason a year later. While in prison, Davis arranged to sell his Mississippi estate to one of his former slaves, Ben Montgomery. Montgomery was a talented business manager, mechanic and inventor who had become wealthy in part from running his own general store. However, floods ruined Montgomery's early years at the reins, and he was unable to turn an early profit. The Davis family was unwilling to forgive the debt of their former slave, and he lost the land. Montgomery never recovered, and died soon after.[citation needed]

Jefferson Davis at his home c.1885.

After two years of imprisonment, he was released on bail of $100,000 which was posted by prominent citizens of both Northern and Southern states, including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Gerrit Smith (Smith, a former member of the Secret Six, had supported John Brown). Davis visited Canada, Cuba and Europe. In December 1868 the court rejected a motion to nullify the indictment, but the prosecution dropped the case in February 1869.

In 1869 Davis became president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee, where he resided at the Peabody Hotel.[13] Upon Robert E. Lee's death in 1870, Davis presided over the memorial meeting in Richmond, Virginia. He turned down the opportunity to become the first president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University).

In 1876 he promoted a society for the stimulation of U.S. trade with South America. Davis visited England the next year, returning in 1878 to Beauvoir (Biloxi, Mississippi). Over the next three years there, Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Having completed that book, he visited Europe again, and traveled to Alabama and Georgia the following year.

He completed A Short History of the Confederate States of America in October 1889. Two months later on December 6, Davis died in New Orleans of unestablished cause at the age of 81. His funeral was one of the largest ever staged in the South, and included a continuous cortège, day and night, from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.[14]

Postbellum portrait of Jefferson Davis by Daniel Huntington.


  1. ^ a b Shelby Foote (1986): The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Perryville, p. 3. Retrieved 2009-08-04
  2. ^ a b c d Hamilton, Holman (1978). "Jefferson Davis Before His Presidency". The Three Kentucky Presidents. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813102464. 
  3. ^ Shelby Foote (1986): The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Perryville, p. 8. Retrieved 2009-08-04
  4. ^ Davis, Jefferson (in Wisconsin)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ p. 121 Thomson, Janice E. Mercenaries, Pirates and Soverigns 1996 Princeton University Press
  9. ^ Rowland, Dunbar (1912). The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi. Mississippi. Dept. of Archives and History. Nashville, Tennessee: Press of Brandon Printing Company. p. 111. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  10. ^ Kleber, John E., ed (1992). "Davis, Jefferson". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813117720. 
  11. ^ "Jefferson Davis Was Captured". 2007. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ United States Census, 1870, Tennessee, Shelby Co., 4-WD Memphis, Peabody Hotel, Series: M593 Roll: 1562 Page: 147.
  14. ^ [3]

See also

List of Memorials to Jefferson Davis


Primary sources

  • Jefferson Davis, Jefferson Davis: The Essential Writings ed. by William J. Cooper (2003)
  • Dunbar Rowland, ed., Jefferson Davis: Constitutionalist; His Letters, Papers, and Speeches (10 vols., 1923).
  • The Papers of Jefferson Davis (1971- ), edited by Haskell M. Monroe, Jr., James T. McIntosh, and Lynda L. Crist; latest is vol. 12 (2008) to December 1870 published by Louisiana State University Press
  • Jefferson Davis. The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881; numerous reprints)

Secondary sources

  • Allen, Felicity. Jefferson Davis: Unconquerable Heart (1999) online edition
  • Ballard, Michael. Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy (1986) online edition
  • Rankin Barbee, The Capture of Jefferson Davis (1947)
  • William J. Cooper. Jefferson Davis, American (2000)
  • William C. Davis, Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour (1991).
  • William E Dodd. Jefferson Davis (1907)
  • Clement Eaton, Jefferson Davis (1977).
  • Paul Escott, After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism (1978).
  • Herman Hattaway and Richard E. Beringer. Jefferson Davis, Confederate President. (2001)
  • Rable; George C. The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics. (1994). online edition
  • Neely Jr.' Mark E. Confederate Bastille: Jefferson Davis and Civil Liberties (1993) online edition
  • Hudson Strode, Jefferson Davis (3 vols., 1955–1964)
  • Emory M. Thomas, The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865 (1979)

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William H. Hammett
Robert W. Roberts
Jacob Thompson
Tilghman M. Tucker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's At-large congressional district

March 4, 1845 – June, 1846
Served alongside: Stephen Adams, Robert W. Roberts and Jacob Thompson
Succeeded by
Henry T. Ellett
United States Senate
Preceded by
Jesse Speight
United States Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
August 10, 1847 – September 23, 1851
Served alongside: Henry S. Foote
Succeeded by
John J. McRae
Preceded by
Stephen Adams
United States Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
March 4, 1857 – January 21, 1861
Served alongside: Albert G. Brown
Succeeded by
Adelbert Ames(1)
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Magill Conrad
United States Secretary of War
March 7, 1853 – March 4, 1857
Succeeded by
John Buchanan Floyd
Preceded by
Office established
President of the Confederate States of America
February 18, 1861 – May 5, 1865
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Notes and references
1. Because of Mississippi's secession, the Senate seat was vacant for nine years before Ames succeeded Davis.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jefferson Davis (1808-06-031889-12-06) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

  • One of the fruitful sources, as I hold it, of the errors which prevail in our country, is the theory that this is a government of one people; that the government of the United States was formed by a mass; and therefore it is taken that all are responsible for the institutions and policies of each. The government of the United States is a compact between the sovereign members who formed it; and if there be one feature common to all the colonies planted upon the shores of America, it was the steady assertion of, and uncompromising desire for, community independence.
    • Senate speech, May 7th, 1860
  • If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a theory.
    • The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, quoting a remark he had made in 1864
  • Whether by the House or by the People, if an Abolitionist be chosen President of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies... such a result would be a species of revolution by which the purposes of the Government would be destroyed and the observance of its mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event, in such manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it your duty to provide for your safely outside the Union of those who have shown the will, and would have acquired the power, to deprive you of your birthright and reduce you to worse than the Colonial dependence of your fathers. [citation needed]
  • Tradition usually rests upon something which men did know; history is often the manufacture of the mere liar. [citation needed]
  • A government, to afford the needful protection and exercise proper care for the welfare of a people, must have homogeneity in its constituents. It is this necessity which has divided the human race into separate nations, and finally has defeated the grandest efforts which conquerors have made to give unlimited extent to their domain.
    • The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
  • I will admit no bond that holds me to a party a day longer than I agree to its principles. When men meet together to confer, and ascertain whether or not they do agree, and find that they differ – radically, essentially, irreconcilably differ – what belongs to an honorable position except to part? They cannot consistently act together any longer.
    • Reply in the Senate to a speech of Senator Douglas, May 1860
  • Unfortunately, the opinion has gone forth that no politician dares to be the advocate of peace when the question of war is mooted. That will be an evil hour — the sand of our republic will be nearly run — when it shall be in the power of any demagogue, or fanatic, to raise a war-clamor, and control the legislation of the country. The evils of war must fall upon the people, and with them the war-feeling should originate. We, their representatives, are but a mirror to reflect the light, and never should become a torch to fire the pile. **Speech in Congress, 1846
  • Among our neighbors of Central and Southern America, we see the Caucasian mingled with the Indian and the African. They have the forms of free government, because they have copied them. To its benefits they have not attained, because that standard of civilization is above their race. Revolution succeeds Revolution, and the country mourns that some petty chief may triumph, and through a sixty days' government ape the rulers of the earth."
    • 1858 speech
  • There is a relation belonging to this species of property, unlike that of the apprentice or the hired man, which awakens whatever there is of kindness or of nobility of soul in the heart of him who owns it; this can only be alienated, obscured, or destroyed, by collecting this species of property into such masses that the owner is not personally acquainted with the individuals who compose it.
    • Senate speech, 1860
  • What security have you for your own safety if every man of vile temper, of low instincts, of base purpose, can find in his own heart a higher law than that which is the rule of society, the Constitution, and the Bible? These higher-law preachers should be tarred and feathered, and whipped by those they have thus instigated. This, my friends, is what was called in good old revolutionary times, Lynch Law. It is sometimes the very best law, because it deals summary justice upon those who would otherwise escape from all other kinds of punishment.
    • Speech in New York, 1858
  • Do they find in the history of St. Domingo, and in the present condition of Jamaica, under the recent experiments which have been made upon the institution of slavery in the liberation of the blacks, before God, in his wisdom, designed it should be done — do they there find anything to stimulate them to future exertion in the cause of abolition ? Or should they not find there satisfactory evidence that their past course was founded in error?
    • Speech, 1850
  • ...How idle is this prating about natural rights as though still containing all that had been forfeited.
    • 1860, Senate debate
  • Sir, it is true that republics have often been cradled in war, but more often they have met with a grave in that cradle. Peace is the interest, the policy, the nature of a popular Government. War may bring benefits to a few, but privation and loss are the lot of the many. An appeal to arms should be the last resort, and only by national rights or national honor can it be justified.
    • Debate in the House of Representatives, February 6, 1846

External links

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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Jefferson Davis was born June 3, 1808, in that portion of Christian county, Kentucky, which was afterwards set off as Todd county. His grandfather was a colonist from Wales, living in Virginia and Maryland, and rendering important public service to those southern colonies. His father, Samuel Emory Davis, and his uncles, were all Revolutionary soldiers in 1776. Samuel Davis served during the Revolution partly with Georgia cavalry and was also in the siege of Savannah as an officer in the infantry. He is described as a young officer of gentle and engaging address, as well as remarkable daring in battle. Three brothers of Jefferson Davis, all older than himself, fought in the war of 1812, two of them serving directly with Andrew Jackson, and gaining from that great soldier special mention of their gallantry in the battle of New Orleans.

Samuel Davis, after the Revolution removed to Kentucky, resided there a few years and then changed his home to Wilkinson county, Mississippi. Jefferson Davis received his academic education in early boyhood at home, and was then sent to Transylvania university in Kentucky, where he remained until 1824, the sixteenth year of his age. During that year he was appointed by President Monroe to West Point military academy as a cadet. A class-mate at West Point said of him, "he was distinguished in his corps for manly bearing and high-toned and lofty character. His figure was very soldierlike and rather robust; his step springy, resembling the tread of an Indian 'brave' on the war-path." He was graduated June, 1828, at twenty years of age, assigned at once to the First infantry and commissioned on the same day brevet second-lieutenant and second-lieutenant. His first active service in the United States army was at posts in the North-west from 1828 to 1833. The Black-hawk war occurring in 1831, his regiment was engaged in several of its battles, in one of which the Indian chieftain, Blackhawk, was captured and placed in the charge of Lieutenant Davis; and it is stated that the heart of the Indian captive was won by the kind treatment he received from the young officer who held him prisoner. In 1833, March 4th, Lieutenant Davis was transferred to a new regiment called the First Dragoons, with promotion to the rank of first-lieutenant, and was appointed adjutant. For about two years following this promotion he had active service in various encounters with the Pawnees, Comanches and other tribes.

His sudden and surprising resignation occurred June 30, 1835, with an immediate entrance upon the duties of civil life. His uncle and other attached friends were averse to his continuance in military life, believing that he was unusually qualified to achieve distinction in a civil career. For some time he hesitated and then yielded to their wishes. Perhaps also the attractions of Miss Sallie Knox Taylor, daughter of Zachary Taylor, commanding the First infantry, to whom he became affianced, contributed to the decision. The marriage between them has been often spoken of inaccurately as an elopement, but it was solemnized at the house of the bride's aunt, near Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Davis now became a cotton planter in Warren county at the age of twenty-seven, and while engaging successfully in this pursuit he devoted much of his time to studies that would prepare him for public life. His first appearance in political strife on a general field was in the gubernatorial canvass of 1843. He was sent as a delegate to the Democratic convention of that year and made such impressions by his speeches as to cause a demand for his services on the hustings. In 1844 his abilities were again in requisition as an elector for Polk and Dallas. In this canvass he took a firm position for strict construction, the protection of States from Federal encroachment, and incidentally advocated the annexation of Texas. The reputation which he made during this year as a statesman of the State rights school bore him into the Congress of the United States as the representative of Mississippi from his congressional district. Mr. Davis took his seat in Congress December 8, 1845, at a period when certain great questions were in issue, and with only a brief and commendable delay, took a foremost place in the discus. sions. The Oregon question, the tariff, the Texas question, were all exciting issues. It is especially noticeable in view of his after life that in these debates he evinced a devotion to the union and glory of his country in eloquent speeches, and in a consistent line of votes favorable to his country's growth in greatness. One of his earliest efforts in Congress was to convert certain forts into schools of instruction for the military of the States. His support of the "war policy," as the Texas annexation measure was sometimes designated, was ardent and unwavering, in the midst of which he was elected colonel of the First Mississippi regiment of riflemen. His decision to re-enter military life was quickly carried into effect by resignation of his place in Congress June, 1846, and the joining of his regiment at New Orleans, which he conducted to the army of General Taylor on the Rio Grande. He had succeeded in arming his regiment with percussion rifles, prepared a manual and tactics for the new arm, drilled his officers and men diligently in its use, and thus added to Taylor's force perhaps the most effective regiment in his little army. He led his well disciplined command in a gallant and successful charge at Monterey, September 21, 1846, winning a brilliant victory in the assault on Fort Teneria. For several days afterwards his regiment, united with Tennesseeans, drove the Mexicans from their redoubts with such gallantry that their leader won the admiration and confidence of the entire army. At Buena Vista the riflemen and Indiana volunteers under Davis evidently turned the course of battle into victory for the Americans by a bold charge under heavy fire against a larger body of Mexicans. It was immediately on this brilliant success that a fresh brigade of Mexican lancers advanced against the Mississippi regiment in full gallop and were repulsed by the formation of the line in the shape of the V, the flanks resting on ravines, thus exposing the lancers to a converging fire. Once more on that day the same regiment, now reduced in numbers by death and wounds, attacked and broke the Mexican right. During this last charge Colonel Davis was severely wounded, but remained on the field until the victory was won. General Taylor's dispatch of March 6, 1847, makes special complimentary mention of the courage, coolness and successful service of Colonel Davis and his command. The Mississippi regiment served out its term of enlistment, and was ordered home in July, 1847. President Polk appointed Colonel Davis brigadier-general, but he declined the commission on the ground that that appointment was unconstitutional.

In August, 1847, the governor of Mississippi appointed Mr. Jefferson Davis to the vacancy in the United States Senate caused by the death of Senator Speight, and he took his seat December 5, 1847. The legislature elected him in January for the remainder of the term, and subsequently he was re-elected for a full term. His senatorial career, beginning in December, 1847, extended over the eventful period of 1849 and 1850, in which the country was violently agitated by the questions arising on the disposition of the common territory, and into which the subject of slavery was forcibly injected. The compromise measures of 1850 proposed by Mr. Clay, and the plan of President Taylor's administration, were both designed to settle the dangerous controversy, while extreme radicals opposed all compromise and denounced every measure that favored slavery in any respect. Senator Davis advocated the division of the western territory by an extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific ocean, because it had been once accepted as a settlement of the sectional question. A majority refused this mode of settlement. On this proposition to adhere to the old Missouri Compromise line of settlement the vote in the Senate was 24 yeas and 32 nays. All the yeas were cast by Southern senators. All nays were by Northern senators except Kentucky one, Missouri one and Delaware two. Mr. Davis thought that the political line of 36 deg. 30' had been at first objectionable on account of its establishing a geographical division of sectional inter-eats, and was an assumption by Congress of a function not delegated to it, but the act had received such recognition through quasi-ratifications by the people of the States as to give it a value it did not originally possess. "Pacification had been the fruit borne by the tree, and it should not have been recklessly hewn down and cast in the fire." He regarded this destruction of the Missouri Compromise line in 1849-50 by Northern votes in Congress as dangerous to the peace of the country. In his opinion at that time the theory of popular sovereignty in the territories "was good enough in itself, and as an abstract proposition could not be gainsaid," but its practical operation, he feared, would introduce fierce territorial strife. He now. saw very little in the compromise legislation of 1850 favorable to the Southern States. According to his view it "bore the impress of that sectional spirit so widely at variance with the general purposes of the Union and destructive of the harmony and mutual benefit which the Constitution was intended to secure." He did not believe the Northern States would respect any of its provisions which conflicted with their views and interests. His attitude, however, toward the measures of Mr. Clay was not positively hostile, though it was emphatically distrustful. But during the perilous discussions of those times Mr. Davis did not align himself with any disunionists North or South. He says for himself, "My devotion to the Union of our fathers had been so often and so publicly declared; I had on the floor of the Senate so defiantly challenged any question of my fidelity to it; my services, civil and military, had now extended through so long a period and were so generally known, that I felt quite assured that no whisperings of envy or ill-will could lead the people of Mississippi to believe that I had dishonored their trust by using the power they had conferred on me to destroy the government to which I was accredited. Then, as afterward, I regarded the separation of the States as a great, though not the greater evil." The votes and speeches of Mr. Davis accorded with the instruction of the Mississippi legislature, and his public record is entirely consistent with this avowal of his devotion to the whole country and his patriotic desire to preserve it from the evils of fanaticism. Reference to this Union sentiment is not made in this sketch or elsewhere in this general work as apologetic in its bearings. But it is in rebuke of those careless or vicious statements often made against Mr. Davis and other Confederate leaders that they were for many years engaged in a conspiracy to break up the Union.

Senator Davis entered upon his new and full term as senator from Mississippi March 4, 1851, from which date there were before him six years of honor in the position he preferred to all others. There was a strong probability also that if living he would be continued in the Senate, since the Southern States were accustomed to the retaining of their eminent men in office. No man had less reason than himself for conspiracy against the government. With this advantage and under the influence of strongly conservative feeling he canvassed the State of Mississippi in 1851, bravely advocating the policy of determined resistance to sectional aggressions, and insisting that the country should be defended from the perils of Congressional usurpation. His argument was that reverence for the constitutional reservations of power would alone save the Union, and upon this view he taught that statesmen who revered the Constitution most, loved the Union best. The overwhelming sentiment of Mississippi that year was to accept the compromise measures of 1850 as a finality, and consequently the State rights party which had been organized upon a vague platform proposing to devise some undefined method of securing guarantees against sectional usurpations, was defeated. Mississippi accordingly joined the other Southern States in acquiescence with the settlement of 1850 "as a finality."

The election for governor of the State was to occur later in the same year. Governor Quitman had been nominated for re-election, but his political antecedents so decidedly committed him to disunion as to imperil his success. Therefore he withdrew from the nomination, and Senator Davis was called on by the executive committee to take his place, because his conservative record accorded more nearly than Governor Quitman's with the recent ballot of the people. It was only six weeks to the day of the election, the State rights party had been lately beaten by a majority of over 7,000 votes, Davis was at that time too sick to leave home, and acceptance of the nomination required his resignation of the high office he then held secure for nearly six years. Nevertheless he accepted the trust, resigned the senatorial office and was defeated by less than one thousand votes. Mr. Davis retired for a short time to private life, from which he was called by President Pierce, who had been elected to the presidency in 1852. At first the tender of a place in the cabinet of the new President was declined, but on further consideration he accepted the office of secretary of war. Mr. Davis had ably supported Pierce in the race of the previous year upon the platform which emphasized beyond all else the finality of the compromise measures, and the cessation of sectional hostilities. He was therefore in this as in other respects in complete agreement with the President from the beginning to the closing of his administration The duties of the war office were discharged with characteristic energy and ability, and at its close his portrait was added to others of eminent men who had enjoyed the same distinction, and it remains suspended in its proper position to this day. A few years later the friendly and confiding letter of the President to Mr. Davis expressed his painful apprehension concerning the Southern movement for secession, accompanied with the kindest expressions of regard for his former able associate in the executive department of government.

Mr. Davis went now from the cabinet of President Pierce, March 4, 1857, to re-enter the United States Senate by the election of the legislature of Mississippi. He was there assigned to the chairmanship of the committee on military affairs, opposed the French spoliation measures, advocated the Southern Pacific railroad bill, and antagonized Senator Douglas on the question of popular or "squatter" sovereignty in the territories, while on the other hand he disputed the claim set up by the Free-soilers of power in Congress to legislate against those territorial domestic institutions which were not in conflict with the Constitution. During the Kansas troubles he aligned himself with those who endeavored to prevent the dangerous hostilities which the opening of that section to occupation had produced, and when the settlement of 1858 was made by the passage of the conference Kansas-Nebraska bill, he wrote hopefully to the people of Mississippi that it was "the triumph of all for which he had contended." At that moment he believed that the danger of sectional discord was over, that peace would reign, and the Union be saved through the policy pursued by the Buchanan administration. From this date, 1859, he was nationally acknowledged as a statesman in counsel, a leader of the people, ranking among the most eminent living Americans.

With this standing among the counselors of the government, Senator Davis endeavored in the beginning of 1860 to lay the foundation for a policy which would prevent sectional agitation and unite inseparably all the States in friendly union. This policy was defined in a series of seven resolutions introduced by him in the Senate February 2, 1860, which were debated three months and adopted in May by a majority of that body as the sense of the Senate of the United States upon the relation of the general government to the States and territories. They were opposed en masse by senators who were allied with the new sectional policy upon which the presidential campaign of that year was projected. In the great conflict of that year he was mentioned extensively as a statesman suitable for the presidency, but it was fully announced that he did not desire the nomination. Regretting the breach which occurred at Charleston in his party, he sought to reconcile the factions, and failing in that, endeavored to gain the consent of Douglas and Breckinridge to withdraw their names in order that union might be secured upon some third person. On the election of Mr. Lincoln he sought with others who were alarmed by the situation some remedy other than that of immediate and separate State secession. He was appointed a member of the Senate committee of Thirteen and was willing to accept the Crittenden resolutions as a compromise if they could have the sincere support of Northern senators. His speeches in the Senate were distinguished for their frankness in portraying the dangers of sectionalism, but through the debates of that session he was careful to utter no words which could produce irritation. Mr. Stephens says that Mr. Davis indicated no desire to break up the Union. Mr. Clay, of Alabama, said, "Mr. Davis did not take an active part in planning or hastening secession. I think he only regretfully consented to it as a political necessity for the preservation of popular and State rights which were seriously threatened by the triumph of a sectional party who were pledged to make war upon them. I know that some leading men and even Mississippians thought him too moderate and backward, and found fault with him for not taking a leading part in secession." Mr. Buchanan sent for him on account of his known conservatism to secure his advice as to the safe course which the administration should pursue, and he promptly complied with the summons. Another fact bearing forcibly on his position while the States were preparing to secede is the meeting of Mississippi congressional. delegation at Jackson, called together by the governor, in which the course of their State was the subject of conference. "Mr. Davis with only one other in that conference opposed immediate and separate State action, declaring himself opposed to secession as long as the hope of a peaceable remedy remained." After the majority decided on separate State secession Mr. Davis declared he would stand by whatever action the Mississippi convention would take, but several members in that conference were dissatisfied with his course, suspecting that he was at heart against secession, and desired delay in order to prevent it. The State convention adopted the ordinance of secession January 9, 1861, and immediately after receiving the official notice Mr. Davis made an exquisitely appropriate and pathetic address to the Senate, taking leave of it in compliance with the action of his State, which he fully justified. "I do think," said he," she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred with her people before that act was taken, counselled them that if the 'state of things which they apprehended should exist when their convention met, they should take the action which they have now adopted." "I find in myself perhaps a type of the general feeling of my constituents toward yours. I am sure I feel no hostility toward you, Senators of the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot say in the presence of my God, I wish you well, and such I am sure is the feeling of the people whom I represent toward those whom you represent. I carry with me no hostile remembrance. Whatever offense I have given which has not been redressed or for which satisfaction has not been demanded, I have, Senators, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my apology for any pain which in the heat of discussion I have inflicted. I go hence unincumbered by the remembrance of any injury received, and having discharged the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury offered, Mr. President and Senators, having made the announcement which the occasion seemed to me to require, it only remains for me to bid you a final adieu." With these fitly spoken words, uttered with the grace of manner for which the accomplished orator was distinguished, and with a tenderness in tone produced by the occasion, the Senator vacated the seat which he had honored and stepped away from a position of commanding dignity and power sufficient to gratify his ambition. It must be seen that the sacrifice was great. Before him the experiment of secession to be tried, according to his expressed belief, alone by bloody war--around him, as his parting words fell from his lips, the associations of a nobly patriotic life rise up and engage his thought--within him a consciousness of rectitude in present motive, and magnanimity in feeling; while a record ineffaceable by any power attested the fidelity of his past life to the general welfare of his country. The change of all conditions became peculiarly and specially great as to him, because even contrary to his wishes he was destined to become the head and front of the secession movement. His virtues would be forgotten and his name maligned through the spite and prejudice not only of the ignorant masses, but of prominent men of warped intelligence.

He is to be fairly viewed after secession as the same man who had justly earned fame in the service of the United States, but whose relations to that country were changed by the act of the State to which he owed allegiance. Surveying him at this crisis in his life we take account of his hereditary virtues, his pride of patriotic ancestry, his training in the Southern school of thought, feeling and manner, his systematic education to graduation from West Point academy, his associations from childhood to manhood with men of culture and women of refinement. We observe his physical advan-tages--a fine figure, erect and strong--in bearing, graceful when moving and pleasing in repose; his features clearly classic and betokening firmness, fearlessness and intelligence. Far he was from any hauteur of bearing, and free from the supposed superciliousness of the misunderstood Southern aristocracy. We see his mind cultivated and fruitful by reason of native power, early education, extensive reading and long communion with great thoughts on affairs of vast importance. He had self command, gained by the discipline of a soldier, which fitted him to command others; certainly also a strong willed nature to that degree where his maturely considered opinion was not lightly deserted, nor his .well-formed purpose easily abandoned. He was not the man to desert a cause which he once espoused. He was liable to err by excess of devotion. Such men make mistakes, and the Confederate President was not exempt. The insight of his general character reveals him a conservative patriot, opposing all tendencies to anarchy or monarchy, faithful to constitutional agreements and supporter of popular liberties; in his public and private life above reproach; in religion a devout believer in the Christian faith and living in the communion of his church. Such is the man who had vacated his place as senator from the State of Mississippi.

Mississippi elected him at once to the command of her State forces, a position he desired, but a few weeks later he was called by election to the Presidency of the Confederacy--a responsibility which he had earnestly shunned.

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America and commander-in-chief of the army and navy, belongs to history, and his career is subject to full and fair treatment by just and intelligent men. The failure of his government to establish itself in permanency by the power of its armies will not be accepted as evidence against his own right to be reverenced, except by such persons as those who regard the triumphs of superior over inferior force as decisive of merit. Such persons judge men and their causes by an exploded savage theory which subjected the weak to the strong. The feudal system, Russian serfdom, and African slavery in the beginning of the horrible slave trade, rested on this basis. Men divested of that prejudice which constricts the reason will not decry the President of the Confederacy because it failed. Not the Southern people alone, but intelligent men of the finer mould of thought and feeling among all nations, are gratified by the cessation of the vituperous language of twenty-five years ago, with which even men of eminence as well as the lower sort declaimed against the exalted man who in public service for a like period of twenty-five years, filling positions in war and peace of great public trust, did not in the least degree betray the confidence which his people had reposed in him. That his career is open to adverse criticism will be conceded by his most reverent friends; but that his name, now that he is dead, should be made to wear the chains which generous justice broke from about his imprisoned living body, will not be claimed by the present generation of fairminded Americans. It is reported that Mr. Gladstone said in 1861 of Jefferson Davis that he had "created a nation," while at the same time it was being urged upon England that he was attempting to take a nation's life. Neither statement was exactly true. Mr. Davis had not created a nation. He was but the executive head of a republic which the intelligent free people of a number of large and powerful States had created. Nor had he attempted the destruction of the United States, for that government remained the same living political organism after secession that it was before. The great English statesman was not a sympathizer with the Southern secession, but he saw with clear vision that a nation in fact had come into being whose greatness was reflected in the character of the ruler it had chosen. His administration was not restrained by his antipathies. With the true greatness of his own nature he could esteem the virtues which were conspicuous in the character of such a chieftain of such a people. Jefferson Davis and the people of the Confederacy being inseperable in the reflections of mankind, the South asks only that he and they shall be judged by honorable men who have the capacities of reason and gentility to render a just judgment.

His administration of the government of the Confederate States must be viewed, as Mr. Stephens justly remarks, in the light of the extraordinary difficulties which had to be suddenly encountered by a new republic which was attacked at all points in the beginning of its formation. The errors of the administration are not so clearly observable as its wisdom. Possibly certain policies ably proposed by patriotic and capable advocates, but not adopted, might have been more efficacious than others which were pursued. It is conjecture only that a different policy would have gained the Southern cause. Possibly the offensive policy which was urged upon the Confederate President in the first months' fighting might have been better than the defensive which he was constrained to adopt. The financial system was not the best and yet some of its features were adopted or followed by the United States. Conscription was a hard measure, and perhaps the appeal for volunteers would have kept the army full. There were on these and other great problems differences of opinion, but there was rare unity in the Confederate purpose to succeed, and hence the government was maintained against forces of men, money and diplomacy leagued against it in such strength as to force the conclusion that after all the Confederate government was wonderfully well sustained for the four or more years of its existence. Nearly all the great reviewers of the Confederate civil administration and the operations of its armies agree in the verdict that both departments were well sustained by the intelligent and brave leaders at the head of affairs. The administration policy incurred special opposition at all the points above named, in regard to which President Davis in his writings concedes the fidelity and intelligence of his opposers, even admitting that in some instances his policy should have been changed. The difficult and delicate situations in which he was placed by the progress of military events often embarrassed him. His appointments were not always the best that could have been made, and his military suggestions were sometimes faulty because they were given at a distance from the field. But the constantly diminishing resources of his country, through the destructive agencies that eroded them at every point, caused the collapse of the government. President Davis did not publicly disclose any apprehensions of failure even to the last days of the Confederacy. So far as the antagonists of his government could determine from his open policy he had no thought of peace except in independence. But it is apparent from his actions in the winter of 1864 and 1865, especially after his interview with Lee and other officers, that he began to look about him for the way to peace. The commission sent to Canada to meet any parties from the United States who would counsel peace; his readiness to give audience to even such unauthorized but friendly visitors as Colonel Jacques; his two interviews with Blair and his letter to Blair to be shown to Lincoln; his appointment of Stephens, Campbell and Hunter to meet President Lincoln in an informal conference--all these indicated at the time and now more clearly disclose that the Confederate President would have consented to peace upon terms that would even subvert his presidency and consign him to private life. The defeat and surrender of the armies of Lee and Johnston dissolved the Confederate States in fact leaving nothing to be done in law but the abrogation of the ordinances of secession by the States which had erected them. As one result of the fall of the armies the President was made a captive by the military, imprisoned in chains, charged unjustly with crimes for which he demanded trial in vain, and after two years of imprisonment which disgraced his enemies was released on bond. A nolle prosequi was entered in his case in 1869, and thus he was never brought to the trial which he earnestly demanded.

After this release on bail the ex-President enjoyed an enthusiastic reception at Richmond, Virginia, and then visited Europe. Returning home, he avoided ostentatious display, appearing before the public, however, in occasional address and writings. He counseled the South to recover its wasted resources and maintain its principles. Secession he frankly admitted to be no more possible, but he remained to the last an unyielding opposer of power centralized in the Federal government. Now and then public demonstrations revealed the attachment of the Southern people, especially two occasions in Georgia, one being the unveiling of the Ben Hill statue in Atlanta, and the other an occasion in Macon, Ga., during the State agricultural fair. These popular demonstrations were of such an imposing character as to evidence the undiminished attachment of the people to his personal character, and sympathy for him in his misfortunes.

The death of the President occurred at New Orleans about one o'clock a.m., December 5, 1889, and the event was announced throughout the Union. The funeral ceremonies in New Orleans were such as comported with the illustrious character of the deceased chieftain, while public meetings in other cities and towns of the South were held to express the common sorrow, and the flags of State capitols were dropped to half-mast. Distinguished men pronounced eulogies on his character, and the press universally at the South and generally at the North contained extended and laudatory articles on his character.

The burial place in New Orleans was selected only as a temporary receptacle, while a general movement was inaugurated for a tomb and monument which resulted in the removal of the body to Richmond, the capitol of the Confederacy. The removal took place by means of a special funeral train from New Orleans to Richmond, passing through several States and stopping at many places to receive the respectful and affectionate tributes bestowed by the people. The scene from the time of the departure from New Orleans to the last rites at Richmond was singular in its nature and sublime in its significance of popular esteem for the memory of the Confederate President. The funeral train moved day and night almost literally in review before the line of people assembled to see it pass. Finally in the presence of many thousands the casket was deposited in the last resting place in the keeping of the city which had so long withstood the rude alarms of war under his presidency.

(Source: Confederate Military History)

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Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865, during the American Civil War.


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