The Election of Jefferson Davis

The Jefferson Davis Memorial, Richmond, Virginia

 

If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.

Jefferson Davis

On this day in 1861 the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as its president.

Davis represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and House of Representatives prior to becoming president of the Confederacy. He also served as United States Secretary of War under U.S. President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857.

Davis was born in Kentucky, but grew up on his brother’s large cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana. Prior to the Civil War, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi where he owned over seventy slaves.

Davis opposed secession, he believed in the states’ right to leave the Union. He was not considered an effective leader and some consider that to be the reason for the weakness of the Confederacy.

Davis was captured in 1865 after fleeing the fall of Richmond. Accused of treason, he was imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe. By the late 1880s, Davis encouraged reconciliation and called for Southerners to be loyal to the Union.

Davis died on December 5, 1889. Although initially laid to rest in New Orleans in the Army of Northern Virginia mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery, in 1893 Davis was re-interred in Richmond, Virginia at Hollywood Cemetery, per his widow’s request.

 

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