Jefferson Davis


Jefferson Finis Davis was an American politician who was a Democratic U.S. Representative and Senator from Mississippi, the 23rd U.S. Secretary of War, and the President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Mississippi is a state located in the southern region of the United States, with part of its southern border formed by the Gulf of Mexico.

A civil war is an armed conflict within a nation.

Jefferson Davis: Civil War, Facts, Biography, Education, Leadership, Early Life (2001) by The Film Archives


He took personal charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to defeat the more populous and industrialized Union.

The Tragic Life of Jefferson Davis by Jerry Skinner


His diplomatic efforts failed to gain recognition from any foreign country, and at home, the collapsing Confederate economy forced his government to print more and more paper money to cover the war's expenses, leading to runaway inflation and devaluation of the Confederate dollar.

The Confederate States of America dollar was first issued just before the outbreak of the American Civil War by the newly formed Confederacy.


Davis was born in Kentucky to a moderately prosperous farmer, and grew up on his older brother Joseph's large cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States.


Joseph Davis also secured his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, Army, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, New York in Orange County.


After graduating, Jefferson Davis served six years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.


He fought in the Mexican–American War, as the colonel of a volunteer regiment.

The Mexican–American War, also known as the Mexican War, the U.S.–Mexican War or the Invasion of Mexico, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States from 1846 to 1848.


He served as the U.S. Secretary of War from 1853 to 1857 under President Franklin Pierce, and as a Democratic U.S. senator from Mississippi.


Before the war, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi but never owned more than 74 slaves.


After the war had ended, he remained a proud apologist for the cause of slavery for which he and the Confederacy had fought.


Although Davis argued against secession in 1858, he believed that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.


Davis's first wife, Sarah Knox Taylor, died of malaria after three months of marriage, and he also struggled with recurring bouts of the disease.

Sarah Knox "Knoxie" Taylor Davis was the daughter of Zachary Taylor, who was a career military officer during his life and later became President of the United States.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans belonging to the Plasmodium type.


He was unhealthy for much of his life.


At the age of 36, Davis married again, to 18-year-old Varina Howell, a native of Natchez who had been educated in Philadelphia and had some family ties in the North.

Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the fifth-most populous in the United States, with an estimated population in 2014 of 1,560,297.


They had six children.


Only two survived him, and only one married and had children.


Many historians attribute the Confederacy's weaknesses to the poor leadership of President Davis.


His preoccupation with detail, reluctance to delegate responsibility, lack of popular appeal, feuds with powerful state governors and generals, favoritism toward old friends, inability to get along with people who disagreed with him, neglect of civil matters in favor of military ones, and resistance to public opinion all worked against him.


Historians agree he was a much less effective war leader than his Union counterpart Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.


After Davis was captured in 1865, he was accused of treason and imprisoned at Fort Monroe.

Fort Monroe is a decommissioned military installation in Hampton, Virginia—at Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula.

In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign.

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