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Jefferson Davis was born June 3, 1808, in that portion of Christian county, Kentucky, which was afterwards set off as Todd County. His grandfather was a colonist from Wales, living in Virginia and Maryland, and rendering important public service to those southern colonies. His father, Samuel Emory Davis, and his uncles, were all Revolutionary soldiers in 1776. Samuel Davis served during the Revolution partly with Georgia cavalry and was also in the siege of Savannah as an officer in the infantry. He is described as a young officer of gentle and engaging address, as well as remarkable daring in battle. Three brothers of Jefferson Davis, all older than himself, fought in the war of 1812, two of them serving directly with Andrew Jackson, and gaining from that great soldier special mention of their gallantry in the battle of New Orleans.
Jefferson Davis received his academic education in early boyhood at home, and was then sent to Transylvania University in Kentucky, where he remained until 1824, and the sixteenth year of his age. During that year he was appointed by President Monroe to West Point military academy as a cadet. A class-mate at West Point said of him, "he was distinguished in his corps for manly bearing and high-toned and lofty character. His figure was very soldier like and rather robust; his step springy, resembling the tread of an Indian 'brave' on the war-path." He was graduated June, 1828, at twenty years of age, assigned at once to the First infantry and commissioned on the same day brevet second-lieutenant and second-lieutenant. His first active service in the United States army was at posts in the North-west from 1828 to 1833. The Black-hawk war occurring in 1831, his regiment was engaged in several of its battles, in one of which the Indian chieftain, Blackhawk, was captured and placed in the charge of Lieutenant Davis; and it is stated that the heart of the Indian captive was won by the kind treatment he received from the young officer who held him prisoner. In 1833, March 4th, Lieutenant Davis was transferred to a new regiment called the First Dragoons, with promotion to the rank of first-lieutenant, and was appointed adjutant. For about two years following this promotion he had active service in various encounters with the Pawnees, Comanches and other tribes.
Jefferson married Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of Zachary Taylor). Three months after the wedding Mrs. Davis died of disease. He later married Varina Howell (16 years his junior); their marriage endured the war and lasted until his death.
Jefferson served during the Mexican War with former West Point classmates. He was appointed Colonel of the Mississippi Regiment. He refused a promotion to Brigadier Gen. from the president on the grounds that the president had no authority to promote a state militia officer.
He served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Davis served the people of Mississippi as their representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and 12 years as their U.S. senator. During his tenure in the senate he argued against secession as a method of solving regional differences. His deep concern for the rights of states not being overshadowed by the central government was the center of his political agenda. He reluctantly resigned from the U.S. Senate upon Mississippi’s vote of secession. Upon his return to MS he was appointed Maj. General of the MS militia. A couple of weeks later he was given the position as provisional president of the Confederacy. A short time later he was elected President of the new Confederacy.
At the end of the war he was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe for two years. For more information on Jefferson Davis go to jeffersondavis.rice.edu/
Respectfully submitted by Rev. J.W. Binion, D.Min.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 March 2012 19:36)