Jefferson DavisPresident of the Confederate States By Sydney Tall and Catherine Taylor
Early Years Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808, the youngest of 10 children. He was miles away from Abe Lincoln. When he was enrolled to school, he went to Wilkinson Academy, and also attended a Catholic Academy, as the only Protestant student there. Later, he attended Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi in 1818, and Transylvania University in Lexington, KY in 1821. His father, along with his uncles, had served in the Continental Army during the 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. This may have started Davis’s military career. In 1824, Davis attended West Point military. When he graduated with low grades in 1828, he also became a lieutenant .
Marriage While working for Colonel Taylor, Davis fell in love with Sarah Knox Taylor, Colonel Taylor’s daughter. They were married on June 17, 1835, although Taylor disapproved of the marriage. While visiting a relative, Davis and Sarah contracted malaria. Sarah died because of this, and Davis became a widower for the next 8 years. In 1845, Davis also met and married Varina Howell. They had six children, which only one had survived young adulthood to marriage and children. Their children’s names were Samuel, Emory, Margaret, Jefferson Davis, Jr., Joseph, and Varina Anne.
Political Life and Military Career Davis was assigned to 1st Infantry Regiment in Fort Crawford, Wisconsin. A few years later, Davis went home to enter the Black Hawk War,after the Battle of Bad Axe. During the War, he was assigned by Colonel Zachary Taylor. When 1846 came, the Mexican-American War came in place. Davis then designing his seat in June. He fought in the War as with the rest of “The Mississippi Riffles”, as the colonel. February 22, 1847, Davis was great in the, “Battle of Buena Vista”, and an enemy solider gave him a shot to the foot. He fought with the wound for the rest of the day. James K. Polk offered a Federal commission due to Davis’s wound, but refused to take it. Davis soon was welcomed back to the Senate term in MS, as a replacer. He accepted the offer, and took his seat on December 5, 1847. Davis introduced an amendment to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to annexmost of northeastern Mexico, which failed. He soon became the Chairman of Military War Affairs. Afterwards, his MS term was over and he decided to run for MS governor. He had a unsuccessful election, but lost to Henry Foote by 999 votes.
During the weeks of 1852, Davis campaigned For Southerners Franklin Pierce and William R. King. In 1853, Pierce won the election, making Davis, “Secretary of War”. When Pierce’s term was over, Davis’s term was, too. So, he returned to Senate on March 4, 1857. His term was interrupted due to an illness affecting and destroying his left eye. On July 4th , he was trying to take apart away from the Union. When Abe Lincoln was elected, events were faster. And when he found out that South Carolina and MS wanted to pull away from the Union, he made a farewell speech, left the Senate term, and returned to Mississippi.
President of the Confederate States On February 9, 1861, a Constitutional Convention was named president of the Confederate States. He was inaugurated February 18, 1861. When he became president of the CSA, he immediately made a Peace Commission to make peace between the Union and CSA. He approved a cabinet that led to the Civil War. Davis was elected to a six-year term as President of the Confederacy on November 6, 1861. He chose Robert E. Lee as his CSA general, as a replacer to Joseph E. Johnston. Davis made many strategic decisions on his own, and this led to bigger conflicts like the Civil War. In August 1863, Davis declined General Lee's offer of resignation after his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. On April 3, 1865, with Union troops under UlyssesS. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate Cabinet, leaving on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865 in Washington, Georgia.
Later Years After the Civil War, Jefferson Davis was captured in Irwinville County, Georgia, by Union troops. Northerners wanted to hang Jefferson for treason. But after 2 years, his charges were dropped in Fort Monroe, Virginia. He lost his privilege of being involved in politics, and lost his plantation. He sold his plantation to Ben Montgomery. Davis visited Canada, Cuba, and Europe. In 1869, Davis became president of the Caroline Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee. He also wrote books. This was all done before another illness came to him.
Death and Burial On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died at age 81, in New Orleans. He was carried to Richmond, Virginia as his final resting place. He was buried in Hollywood Cemetery.