Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808 in Christian County, Kentucky. When he was a young child, his family moved to Mississippi where he spent most of his youth until matriculating at Transylvania University in 1821. He did not complete his studies at Transylvania; instead, a Mississippi congressman nominated him to West Point. Davis entered September 1, 1824 and graduated in 1828 suceeding to a second lieutenant post in the United States Army. He spent the next seven years of military duty in Illinois and Wisconsin, where he met his first wife Sarah Knox Taylor. Davis resigned from the United States Army on June 30, 1835 and moved back to Mississippi with his wife.

A mere three months later, on September 15, 1835 Mrs. Davis died of malarial fever. He quietly spent the next ten years of his life 1835 to 1845 on his plantation in Mississippi. In December of 1845 these calm years ended with his election to the national House of Representatives as a Democrat from Mississippi. Also, on February 26, 1845 Davis married Varina Howell which linked him with the local high society. He became increasingly more involved in politics and fighting the abolistionist cause during the years that followed, serving in Congress, as a national senator, and as secretary of war in the cabinet of Franklin Pierce.

Upon Mississippi's sucession from the Union, Davis resigned from Senate, January 21, 1861. He was inaugurated as provisional President of the Confederacy on February 18, 1861 at Montgomery. Davis' loyalty to the South was unquestionable, and in spite of anti-Davis sentiment in the South, he was elected to his position of President in October 1861 and formally inaugurated on February 22, 1862. Davis' presidency was a time frought with tension and the obvious triumphs and defeats which the Civil War brought to the South. Davis remained determined to see the South gain independence right to Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

After being captured by Federal cavalry on May 10, 1865, Davis spent two years as a prisoner in Fortress Monroe. Davis was never brought to trial and was released on bond, May 13, 1867. He spent the final twenty-two years of his life traveling, undertaking business ventures, and recording his career in The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Jefferson Davis passed away on December 6, 1889 in New Orleans.

For your own interest, access additional information about Jefferson Davis

sources:Dictionary of American Biography

Continue to Stonewall Jackson

Return to Men Behind the Myth page