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Cuz
03-14-2011, 05:15 PM
Jefferson Davis was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. He was courageous, vain, petty, loyal, controlling, meddlesome, out of touch and supportive. A true contradiction of a man. The same support that he gave to his great general Robert E. Lee; he gave to one of his worse generals, Braxton Bragg. After the war many decided to blame the defeat of the South on Jefferson Davis. A writer asked Robert E. Lee before his death if Jefferson Davis was a good President. The former general said, "I can think of none who would have done better."

He was born in what is now Todd County Kentucky on June 3, 1808. He was born less than 100 miles from the birth of his adversary, Abraham Lincoln. His family moved from Kentucky to Mississippi. He attended school in Mississippi and Kentucky and was appointed to West Point by President Monroe. It is rumored that while there he and Joseph Johnston, future Confederate General, fought over a girl. Their animosity to each other hindered the Southern war effort.

He graduated and fought in the Black Hawk war, Abraham Lincoln was a Captain of Volunteers in this war. After this war Lieutenant Davis becomes the adjutant of the First Dragoons and meets Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of Zachary Taylor. The future President is not pleased with the intentions of the young Lieutenant for his daughter and Davis resigns and marries Ms. Taylor in 1835. Their marriage lasts only three months. Both contract malaria and Sarah dies. Jefferson goes back to Mississippi and throws himself into running his plantation.

In 1844, Jefferson Davis is elected to the House of Representatives. In 1845, Davis marries Varina Howell. They have six children, two die as infants.

In 1846, the Mexican War breaks out. Davis raises an infantry regiment the Mississippi Rifles. He leads them heroically in the Battle of Buena Vista fighting under his former father in law, Zachary Taylor. He was wounded in the foot during the battle and General Taylor was so impressed that he told the Colonel, "My daughter was a better judge of men than I." He recieves a brevet to Brigadier General after this action.

Jefferson Davis returns to Mississippi a war hero and is appointed by the Governor to fill an unexpired Senate Term in 1847. He is elected by the Mississippi legislature the following year to the Senate but resigns to run for Governor and is defeated.

In 1853, Jefferson Davis is appointed Secretary of War by Franklin Pierce. While there he performed ably although some of his attempts meet with failure. He brought camels from the mid east and formed a Camel Corps for the arid Southwest. Camels and horses did not get along and they were discontinued. Of more sucess was his formation of the 2nd US Cavalry Regiment. Davis hand picked many of the officers including Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Earl Van Dorn, George Thomas, and John Bell Hood.

At the end of Pierce's term Davis was returned to the Senate where he remained until Mississippi seceded. He gave a farewell speech to thunderous applause in January 1861 and returns to Mississippi where he is appointed Major General of Volunteers. If he had remained in this position, he probably would have been a leading General of the war and possibly in command of the Army of Tennessee. But fate had other plans. On February 10, 1861, he and his wife were in their garden at their plantation when a rider came up with a message. Davis read it and his face took on a look of alarm. He had been elected unanimously Provisional President of the Confederate States in Montgomery Alabama. His wife said his face took on the look of someone who had been given a death sentence. He travels to Montgomery and a crowd follows him to his hotel. On the steps of the gallery, William Yancey quiets the crowd and in a loud voice announces, "The Man and the Hour have met."

His presidency was filled with quarrels with Generals, Cabinet Members, Members of Congress, Newspaper Editors and Governors of the states of the Confederacy. He attempted to micro-manage the war and failed miserably by his lack of delegation of authority. He resisted appointing a General In Chief until it was too late in 1865 when Robert E. Lee was given that position. His battles with Joseph Johnston brought out the pettiness of both individuals. His support of Braxton Bragg after Bragg had lost all support of his Generals was one of the worse mistakes he made as Commander in Chief during the war. His refusal to let Stonewall Jackson march on Washington after the first battle of Manassas cost the South a chance for independence. "All we desire is to be left alone." he said. But the North had a leader who was not going to stop in his desire to return the lost states to the fold.

He is captured in Georgia at the end of the war and is held in chains at Fortress Monroe Virginia. He is indicted for treason but never tried. His suffering after the war warms him to the Southern populace more than during the war and he becomes one of the Patron Saints of "The Lost Cause". Which is why Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are immortalized on the face of Stone Mountain Georgia.

He writes two books after the war, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government" and "A Short History of the Confederate States of America". He appears at numerous events and his reserved manor endears him to the crowds that derided him during the war. He counsels the South to maintain it's principles and recover it's wasted resources. He remains an opponent of a strong central government to the end.

Jefferson Davis dies in New Orleans on December 6, 1889. He is 81 years old. At first he is buried in New Orleans but is then removed and reburied in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond Virginia. His funeral train procession evokes memories of Lincoln's funeral train procession. Just as with Lincoln, crowds gathered along the railroad tracks both night and day to watch the train pass carrying Davis's remains.

And so he rests today in Richmond, Virginia. An American soldier and statesman.