First public appearance in politics—in the House of Representatives in 1845.
In his first public appearance, in 1843, Mr. Davis
had uttered the key-note of his political faith by moving to instruct the delegates from Mississippi
to vote for John C. Calhoun
as a presidential nominee in a national Democratic convention.
was, as he regarded, ‘the most trusted leader of the South
and the greatest and purest statesman in the Senate,’ and while he did not concur in his doctrines of nullification, he adopted
otherwise his constitutional views, and in the most part the politics which he advocated.
Taking his seat in the House of Representatives in December, 1845, he at once launched into the work and debates of that body, and with his first address made that impression of eloquence and power which he maintained throughout his parliamentary career.
John Quincy Adams
is said to have predicted on hearing it that he would make his mark, and his prophecy was very soon fulfilled.
He advocated, in a resolution offered by himself, the very first month of his service, the conversion of some of the military posts into schools of instruction, and the substitution of detachments furnished proportionately by the States for the garrisons of enlisted men; and on the 29th of the same month made a forcible speech against Know-Nothingism, which was then becoming popular.
He had barely risen into distinguished views by his positions and speeches on these and other subjects, such as the Mexican
war and the Oregon
question, ere he resigned to take the field in Mexico
, and when he returned to public life after the Mexican
war it was as a member of the United States Senate.