Portrait of Jefferson Davis

On November 6, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected to a six-year term as President of the Confederate States of America. [Wikimedia Commons]

Jefferson Finis Davis - Facts

June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889

Key facts about Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

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Full Name:

  • Jefferson Finis Davis

Birth Date:

  • June 3, 1808

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

Significance:

  • 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.
  • 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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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Jefferson Finis Davis - Facts
  • Coverage June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 16, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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