Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis never wanted to be president of the Confederate States. Davis, who had graduated from West Point, wanted to be a general in the army of the new Confederate States of America. And he actually was against secession at first!

Davis, like Lincoln, was born in Kentucky. Davis fought bravely in the Black Hawk War, and married the daughter of his commander, Zachary Taylor. Unfortunately, his wife died just a few months after their marriage. He devoted himself to his plantation for about ten years and later married the daughter of a Mississippi plantation owner.

People recognized that Davis was an intelligent, well-educated man and an excellent speaker. Mississippi's voters elected him to the House of Representatives. He resigned to fight in the Mexican American War, in which he fought bravely and was wounded. He served in the United States Senate and defended slavery and its extension and states' rights. He also served as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce. Davis was again serving as a United States senator when his home state of Mississippi left the Union. He supported the new Confederacy.

As president, he wanted to help his generals plan battles. Sometimes they didn't want any help. He had a difficult job; the South had fewer soldiers and factories to produce war materials. The press criticized him, and he had difficulty persuading the Confederate Congress to agree with him. Davis was stubborn; he didn't like to compromise. However, even his enemies respected him as a very honest man who worked tirelessly for his nation.

When Grant's army neared the Confederate capital at Richmond, Davis fled but was captured. He spent two years in jail for treason but never stood trial. In his later years, he was a private businessman and author, and died in 1889 at age eighty-two.

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