|Jefferson Davis birthday, June 3, 1808
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|Author:||Boyd [ Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:47 am ]|
|Post subject:||Jefferson Davis birthday, June 3, 1808|
Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808, (died December 6, 1889) in the state of Kentucky.
Jefferson Davis, would become the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.
Davis was born in Christian County (later named Todd County), Kentucky, now home to the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site. Davis himself was unsure of his exact birth year. He wrote: "There has been some controversy about the year of my incarnation 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."
Davis was the youngest of the ten children of Samuel Emory Davis and his wife Jane Cook. The younger Davis's grandfather immigrated from Wales and had once lived in Virginia and Maryland. His father, along with his uncles, had served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War; he fought with the Georgia cavalry and fought in the Siege of Savannah as an infantry officer. Also, three of his older brothers served during the War of 1812. Two of them served under Andrew Jackson and received commendation for bravery in the Battle of New Orleans.
During Davis's youth, the family moved twice; in 1811 to St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, and in 1812 to Wilkinson County, Mississippi. In 1813, Davis began his education together with his sister Mary, attending a log cabin school a mile from their home. Two years later, Davis entered the Catholic school of Saint Thomas at St. Rose Priory, a school operated by the Dominican Order in Washington County, Kentucky. At the time, he was the only Protestant student.
Davis went on to Jefferson College at Washington, Mississippi, in 1818, and to Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1821. In 1824, Davis entered the United States Military Academy (West Point). He completed his four-year term as a West Point cadet, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1828 following graduation.
Davis was assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment and was stationed at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin. His first assignment, in 1829, was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red Cedar River for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year, he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill in the Yellow River in 1831, he contracted pneumonia, causing him to return to Fort Crawford.
The year after, Davis was dispatched to Galena, Illinois, at the head of a detachment assigned to remove miners from lands claimed by the Native Americans. Lieutenant Davis was home in Mississippi for the entire Black Hawk War, returning after the Battle of Bad Axe. Following the conflict, he was assigned by his colonel, Zachary Taylor, to escort Black Hawk himself to prisonâ€”it is said that the chief liked Davis because of the kind treatment he had shown. Another of Davis's duties during this time was to keep miners from illegally entering what would eventually become the state of Iowa.
In 1833, Davis was promoted to first lieutenant of the Regiment of Dragoons and made a regimental adjutant. In 1834 he was transferred to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory.
Davis fell in love with Colonel Taylor's daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor. Her father did not approve of the match, so Davis resigned his commission and married Miss Taylor on June 17, 1835, at the house of her aunt near Louisville, Kentucky. The marriage, however, proved to be short. While visiting Davis' oldest sister near Saint Francisville, Louisiana, both newlyweds contracted malaria, and Davis's wife died three months after the wedding on September 15, 1835. In 1836, he moved to Brierfield Plantation in Warren County, Mississippi. For the next eight years, Davis was a recluse, studying government and history, and engaging in private political discussions with his brother Joseph.
The year 1844 saw Davis's first political success, as he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, taking office on March 4 of the following year. In 1845, Davis married Varina Howell at her home.
The year 1846 saw the beginning of the Mexican-American War. He resigned his House seat in June, and raised a volunteer regiment, the Mississippi Rifles, becoming its colonel. On July 21, 1846 they sailed from New Orleans for the Texas coast. Davis armed the regiment with percussion rifles and trained the regiment in their use, making it particularly effective in combat.
In September of the same year, he participated in the successful siege of Monterrey, Mexico. He fought bravely at the Battle of Buena Vista on February 22, 1847, and was shot in the foot. In recognition of his bravery and initiative, commanding general Zachary Taylor is reputed to have said, "My daughter, sir, was a better judge of men than I was."
President James K. Polk offered him a Federal commission as a brigadier general and command of a brigade of militia. He declined the appointment, arguing that the United States Constitution gives the power of appointing militia officers to the states, and not to the Federal government.
Because of his war service, the Governor of Mississippi appointed Davis to fill out the Senate term of the late Jesse Speight. He took his seat 5 December 1847, and was elected to serve the remainder of his term in January 1848. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution appointed him a regent at the end of December 1847.
The Senate made Davis chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. When his term expired, he was elected to the same seat (by the Mississippi legislature, as the Constitution mandated at the time). He had not served a year when he resigned (in September 1851) to run for the Governorship of Mississippi on the issue of the Compromise of 1850, which Davis opposed. This election bid was unsuccessful, as he was defeated by fellow senator Henry Stuart Foote by 999 votes.
Left without political office, Davis continued his political activity. He took part in a convention on states' rights, held at Jackson, Mississippi in January 1852. In the weeks leading up to the presidential election of 1852, he campaigned in numerous Southern states for Democratic candidates Franklin Pierce and William R. King.
Pierce won the election and, in 1853, made Davis his Secretary of War. In this capacity, Davis gave to Congress four annual reports (in December of each year), as well as an elaborate one (submitted on February 22, 1855) on various routes for the proposed Transcontinental Railroad. The Pierce administration ended in 1857. The president lost the Democratic nomination, which went instead to James Buchanan. Davis's term was to end with Pierce's, so he ran successfully for the Senate, and re-entered it on March 4, 1857.
His renewed service in the Senate was interrupted by an illness that threatened him with the loss of his left eye. Still nominally serving in the Senate, Davis spent the summer of 1858 in Portland, Maine. On the Fourth of July, he delivered an anti-secessionist speech on board a ship near Boston. He again urged the preservation of the Union on October 11 in Faneuil Hall, Boston, and returned to the Senate soon after.
On February 2, 1860, as secessionist clamor in the South grew ever louder, Davis submitted six resolutions in an attempt to consolidate opinion regarding states' rights, including the right to maintain slavery in the South, and to further his own position on the issue. Abraham Lincoln won the presidency that November. Matters came to a head, and South Carolina seceded from the Union.
Though an opponent of secession in principle, Davis upheld it in practice on January 10, 1861. On January 21, 1861, he announced the secession of Mississippi, delivered a farewell address, and resigned from the Senate.
Four days after his resignation, Davis was commissioned a Major General of Mississippi troops. On February 9, 1861, a constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama named him provisional president of the Confederate States of America and he was inaugurated on February 18. In meetings of his own Mississippi legislature, Davis had argued against secession; but when a majority of the delegates opposed him, he gave in.
In conformity with a resolution of the Confederate Congress, Davis immediately appointed a Peace Commission to resolve the Confederacy's differences with the Union. In March 1861, before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the commission was to travel to Washington, D.C., to offer to pay for any Federal property on Southern soil, as well as the Southern portion of the national debt, but it was not authorized to discuss terms for reunion. He appointed General P.G.T. Beauregard to command Confederate troops in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina. He approved the cabinet decision to bombard Fort Sumter, which started the war. When Virginia switched from neutrality and joined the Confederacy, he moved his government to Richmond, Virginia, in May 1861. Davis and his family took up his residence there at the White House of the Confederacy in late May.
Davis was elected to a six-year term as president of the Confederacy on November 6, 1861. He had never served a full term in any elective office, and that would turn out to be the case on this occasion as well. He was inaugurated on February 22, 1862. In June, 1862, he assigned General Robert E. Lee to replace the wounded Joseph E. Johnston in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the main Confederate army in the Eastern Theater. That December, he made a tour of Confederate armies in the west of the country. Davis largely made the main strategic decisions on his own, or approved those suggested by Lee. He had a very small circle of military advisors.
In August 1863, Davis declined General Lee's offer of resignation after his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. As Confederate military fortunes turned for the worse in 1864, he visited Georgia with the intent of raising morale.
Davis has received criticism over his conduct of the military affairs of the Confederacy. Until late in the war, he resisted efforts to appoint a general-in-chief, essentially handling those duties himself; on January 31, 1865, Lee assumed this role, but it was far too late. Davis insisted on a strategy of trying to defend all Southern territory with ostensibly equal effort, which diluted the limited resources of the South and made it vulnerable to coordinated strategic thrusts by the Union into the vital Western Theater, such as the capture of New Orleans. He made other poor strategic choices, such as allowing Lee to invade the North on two occasions while the Western armies were under very heavy pressure. Davis has been faulted for poor coordination and management of his generals. This includes his reluctance to relieve his personal friend, Braxton Bragg, defeated in important battles and distrusted by his subordinates; he relieved the cautious but capable Joseph E. Johnston and replaced him with the reckless John Bell Hood, resulting in the loss of Atlanta and the eventual loss of an army.
On April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate cabinet, leaving on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. He issued his last official proclamation as President of the Confederacy, and then went south to Greensboro, North Carolina.
President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865 in Washington, Georgia, and the Confederate Government was officially dissolved. The meeting took place at the Heard house, the Georgia Branch Bank Building, with fourteen officials present. On May 10, he was captured at Irwinville, Georgia. After being captured, he was held as a prisoner for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
On May 19, 1865, Davis was imprisoned in a casemate at Fortress Monroe, on the coast of Virginia. He was placed in irons for three days. Davis was indicted for treason a year later. While in prison, Davis arranged to sell his Mississippi estate to one of his former slaves, Ben Montgomery. Montgomery was a talented business manager, mechanic, and even an inventor who had become wealthy in part from running his own general store.
The next year, after imprisonment of two years, he was released on bail which was posted by prominent citizens of both northern and southern states, including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Gerrit Smith, who, as a member of the Secret Six, had earlier supported John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Davis visited Canada, Cuba and Europe. In December 1868, the court rejected a motion to nullify the indictment, but the prosecution dropped the case in February 1869.
In 1869 Davis became president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon Robert E. Lee's death in 1870, Davis presided over the memorial meeting in Richmond, Virginia. Elected to the U.S. Senate again, he was refused the office in 1875, having been barred from Federal office by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He also turned down the opportunity to become the first president of The Agriculture and Mechanical College of Texas, which is now Texas A&M University.
In 1876, he promoted a society for the stimulation of U.S. trade with South America. Davis visited England the next year, returning in 1878 to Beauvoir (Biloxi, Mississippi). Over the next three years there, Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Having completed that book, he visited Europe again, and traveled to Alabama and Georgia the following year.
He completed A Short History of the Confederate States of America in October 1889. Two months later, Davis died in New Orleans of unestablished cause at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was one of the largest ever staged in the South and ran a continuous march from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia, day and night. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond
Here are a few of his many accomplishments:
Graduate of West Point Military Academy
Fought valiantly in the War with Mexico
United States Senator
Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce
First to suggest the transcontinental railroad to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
First to suggest the Panama Canal Zone.
Suggested the purchase of Cuba
Appointed Robert E. Lee Superintendent of West Point Military Academy.
Jefferson Davis is included on a bas relief sculpture on Stone Mountain which is just east of Atlanta, Georgia.
A monument to Jefferson Davis was unveiled on June 3, 1907 on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution barred from office anyone who had violated their oath to protect the Constitution by serving in the Confederacy. That prohibition included Davis. In 1978, pursuant to authority granted to Congress under the same section of the Amendment, Congress posthumously removed the ban on Davis with a two-thirds vote of each house and President Jimmy Carter signed it. These actions were spearheaded by Congressman Trent Lott of Mississippi. Congress had previously taken similar action on behalf of Robert E. Lee.
The state of Alabama celebrates Davis's birthday on the first Monday in June.
The state of Mississippi observes Davis's birthday in conjunction with the Memorial Day Federal holiday.
In the State of Florida, Jefferson Davis's birthday, June 3, is a legal holiday and public holiday. 
A 351-foot tall concrete obelisk at the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview, Kentucky, honors the former president.
A bust statue of Jefferson Davis is located in a park on the spot he was captured, near Fitzgerald, Georgia.
BG Boyd Denner
"God Bless the Alabamians" Gen. Robert E. Lee - The Wilderness 1864
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