Davis, Jefferson

Jefferson Davis

b. 3 Jun 1807 (or 1808), on a site in Christian County, Kentucky [1]
d. 6 Dec 1889, New Orleans, Louisiana

Title: President of the Confederate States of America
Term: 18 Feb 1861 - 18 Feb 1862
Chronology: 9 Feb 1861, elected, session of the Congress, State Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama [2]
  18 Feb 1861, took an oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America, inaugural ceremony, in front of the State Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama [3]
  18 Feb 1862, expiration of term [4]
Term: 19 Feb 1862 - 10 May 1865
Chronology: 19 Feb 1862, election to the office of President of the Confederate States of America is declared upon counting electoral votes (cast 4 Dec 1861), joint session of the Congress, House Chamber, State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia [5]
  22 Feb 1862, took an oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America, inaugural ceremony as part of the special session of the Senate, in front of the State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia [6]
  10 May 1865, ceased to exercise the functions of office upon capture by a belligerent force, near Irwinville, Georgia [7]
Names/titles: Used middle initial F. as Jefferson F. Davis in 1824-1833 [8]
Biography:
Graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York (1828); served in the Black Hawk War (1832); promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the First Dragoons in 1833, and served until 1835, when he resigned; married (17 Jun 1835) Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of Zachary Taylor, President of the United States (4 Mar 1849 - 9 Jul 1850); moved to his plantation, 'Brierfield,' in Warren County, Mississippi, and engaged in cotton planting; elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Congress (1845-1846); left Washington, D.C., to assume command of the First Regiment of Mississippi Riflemen in the war with Mexico; resigned his seat in the House of Representatives (resignation delivered to the Congress 18 Oct 1846); appointed fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate (1847) and was subsequently elected (1848), serving in 1847-1851; served as Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs (1847-1851); resigned his seat in the Senate (23 Sep 1851); unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Mississippi (1851); was appointed Secretary of War (7 Mar 1853 - 4 Mar 1857) by President of the United States Franklin Pierce; served as Acting Secretary of the Navy (1 Jun 1853 - 15 Jun 1853); elected (1856) to the U.S. Senate on the Democratic ticket, serving in 1857-1861; served as Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia (1857-1861); withdrew with other secessionist Senators (21 Jan 1861); was commissioned major general of the Mississippi State militia (23 Jan 1861); elected President of the Confederate States of America by the Provisional Congress and inaugurated on 18 Feb 1861; elected President of the Confederate States of America by electoral votes for the term of 1862-1868; abandoned the Confederate capital, Richmond, on 2 Apr 1865; was captured by the U.S. troops near Irwinville, Georgia (10 May 1865); imprisoned in Fortress Monroe, indicted for treason, and was paroled in the custody of the court in 1867; returned to Mississippi and spent the remaining years of his life writing.
Biographical sources: The Papers of Jefferson Davis, a documentary editing project based at Rice University in Houston, Texas (web site); Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (2005).
Elections:

Candidate Vote of States (9 Feb 1861)
Jefferson Davis 6
number of votes for a majority 4

Candidate Electoral vote (4 Dec 1861)
Jefferson Davis 109
total number of electors appointed 109
number of votes for a majority 55
Source of electoral results: Journal of the Confederate Congress, 1:40; Journal of the Confederate Congress, 2:7-9.

[1] It is unclear whether Davis was born in 1807 or 1808, and Davis himself was unsure. He wrote an acquaintance in 1858 that "there has been some controversy about the year of my birth among the older members of my family, and I am not a competent witness in the case, having once supposed the year to have been 1807, I was subsequently corrected by being informed it was 1808, and have rested upon that point because it was just as good, and no better than another." ("The Papers of Jefferson Davis", ed. by Haskell M. Monroe, Jr., and James T. McIntosh, vol. 1: lxv-lxvi)
[2] Journal of the Confederate Congress, 1:40.
[3] Journal of the Confederate Congress, 1:63.
[4] Journal of the Confederate Congress, 1:899, 904: "Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America <...> Article II, Section 1: Executive power vested in President. 1. The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the Confederate States of America. He, together with the Vice President, shall hold his office for one year, or until this Provisional Government shall be superceded by a Permanent Government, whichsoever shall first occur."
[5] Journal of the Confederate Congress, 2:7-9.
[6] Journal of the Confederate Congress, 2:15.
[7] The Macon Daily Telegraph, Old Series, No. 1396/New Series, No. 3, Macon, Georgia, Saturday, May 13, 1865, p. 1, col. 2; The Macon Daily Telegraph, Old Series, No. 1396/New Series, No. 4, Macon, Georgia, Sunday, May 14, 1865, p. 2, col. 3-4.
[8] From 30 Nov 1824, until mid-1833, Davis' name on official lists and at times his signature included the middle initial "F." The name is not spelled out in full in any known document. In his story of Davis' life, Hudson Strode claimed that the final son born to Samuel and Jane Davis was given the middle name "Finis" because "it seemed unlikely that Jane Davis would ever bear another child" ("Jefferson Davis: American patriot, 1808-1861", by Hudson Strode [New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955], p. 3). The "Finis" myth has been repeated so often that it has become accepted as fact by many scholarly resources, but there is no evidence for it. Davis had been at West Point for at least three months before the middle initial in his name showed up for the first time, on a monthly conduct report. The last known "J. F. Davis" signature is on a note of 3 Oct 1832. As of the publication of Davis' appointment as second lieutenant of Dragoons on 4 May 1833, the "F." had disappeared from official documents as well.
  Image: photograph by Mathew B. Brady, c. 1860. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Last updated on: 28 Sep 2015 13:59:30