Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889)

Quick Facts

Quick Facts about the subject of this entry.

Full Name: Jefferson Finis Davis

Birth Location: Christian County, Kentucky (now part of Todd County)

Parents: Samuel Emory and Jane (Cook) Davis

Education: Jefferson College (Mississippi), Transylvania University (Kentucky), United States Military Academy (1828)

Occupation: Military officer, politician

Career Summary: U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of War, President of the Confederate States of America

Spouse(s): Sarah Knox Taylor (1835), Varina Howell (1845)

Place of Death: New Orleans

Date of Death: December 6, 1889

Place of Burial: Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jefferson Davis was born less than 100 miles from where Abraham Lincoln was born.

Jefferson Davis was the tenth and last child of Samuel Emory Davis and Jane Cook.

Jefferson Davis's father was a Revolutionary War veteran.

In 1811, Jefferson Davis's family moved to St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.

In 1812, Jefferson Davis's family moved to a small plantation named Rosemont in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.

Jefferson Davis attended private schools in Mississippi and, Kentucky.

Between 1818 and 1821, Jefferson Davis attended Jefferson College in Mississippi and Transylvania University in Kentucky.

Jefferson Davis entered the United States Military Academy in 1824, and graduated in 1828, 23rd in his class.

After graduating from West Point, Jefferson Davis was brevetted as a second lieutenant assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin.

On June 17 1835, Jefferson Davis married Sarah Knox Taylor, the daughter of his commanding officer, and future President of the United States, Zachary Taylor.

Jefferson Davis resigned his commission in the United States Army in 1835.

Jefferson Davis's wife, Sarah Knox Taylor, died from malaria on September 15, 1835, only a few months after their marriage.

In 1836 Jefferson Davis moved to Brierfield Plantation in Warren County Mississippi, where he grew cotton and studied history and politics.

Jefferson Davis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1844 and took office on March 4, 1845.

Jefferson Davis married Varina Howell on February 26, 1845.

When the Mexican-American War began, Davis resigned his seat in Congress on June 18, 1846 and raised the 1st Mississippi Regiment, also known as the Mississippi Rifles, becoming its commanding officer.

Jefferson Davis served under his former father-in-law, Zachary Taylor, at the battles of Monterrey (1846) and Buena Vista (1847) during the Mexican-American War.

On February 22, 1847, Jefferson Davis was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War.

After the Mexican-American War, the governor of Mississippi selected Davis to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate on December 5, 1847.

In the U.S. Senate, Jefferson Davis was a leading supporter of slavery and states' rights.

Jefferson Davis was an unsuccessful candidate for the governor of Mississippi in 1851.

U.S. President Franklin Pierce appointed Jefferson Davis as secretary of war on March 7, 1853.

Jefferson Davis was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 1856.

On March 4, 1857, Jefferson Davis returned to the U.S. Senate.

As a U.S. Senator, Jefferson Davis was generally opposed to secession.

Jefferson Davis resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1861, when Mississippi seceded from the Union.

On February 9, 1861, delegates to a constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama elected Jefferson Davis as provisional president of the Confederate States of America.

Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as provisional president of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861.

In May 1861, Jefferson Davis moved the seat of the Confederate government to Richmond after Virginia seceded from the Union.

On November 6, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected to a six-year term as president of the Confederate States of America.

On February 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as president of the Confederate States of America.

Jefferson Davis evacuated Richmond on April 3, 1865.

On May 5, 1865, in Washington, Georgia, Jefferson Davis met with his cabinet for the last time and dissolved the Confederate government.

Union forces captured Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865 near Irwinsville, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe, Virginia from May 22, 1865 through May 13, 1867.

Jefferson Davis was released on bail, part of which was posted by shipping magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and abolitionist and New York newspaper publisher, Horace Greeley.

After being released from prison, Jefferson Davis traveled to Canada, Cuba and Europe.

In February 1869, Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against Jefferson Davis, but his citizenship was not restored.

In 1869, Davis became president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1877, novelist Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey invited Jefferson Davis to live at her estate, Beauvoir, near Biloxi, Mississippi, while Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

In 1879, Jefferson Davis inherited Beauvoir in the will of Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey.

From 1877 to 1881, Jefferson Davis authored The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, which was published in 1881.

In 1889, Jefferson Davis completed writing A Short History of the Confederate States of America.

Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans on December 6, 1889 from unknown causes.

Jefferson Davis was buried in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans on December 11, 1889.

Jefferson Davis's body was exhumed and reburied in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery between May 27 and May 31, 1893.

On October 17, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution of Congress reinstating Jefferson Davis's citizenship.

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