Statesman; born in Christian county, Ky.
, June 3, 1808; graduated at West Point
in 1828; served as lieutenant in the Black Hawk War
(q. v.) in 1831-32, and resigned in 1835 to become a cotton-planter in Mississippi
He was a member of Congress in 1845-46, and served as colonel of a Mississippi regiment in the war with Mexico
He was United States
Senator from 1847 to 1851, and from 1857 to 1861.
He was called to the cabinet of President Pierce
as Secretary of War
in 1853, and remained four years. He resigned his seat in the Senate in January, 1861, and was chosen provisional President
of the Southern Confederacy in February.
In November, 1861, he was elected permanent President
for six years. Early in April, 1865, he and his associates in the government fled from Richmond
, first to Danville, Va.
, and then towards the Gulf of Mexico
He was arrested in Georgia
, taken to Fort Monroe
, and confined on a charge of treason for about two years, when he was released on bail, Horace Greeley
's name heading the list of bondsmen for $100,000. He was never tried.
He published The rise and fall of the Confederate government
(1881). He died in New Orleans, La.
, Dec. 6, 1889.
was at his home, not far from Vicksburg
, when apprised of his election as President
of the Confederacy
formed at Montgomery
, February, 1861.
He hastened to that city, and his journey was a continuous ovation.
He made twenty-five speeches on the way. Members of the convention and the authorities of Montgomery
met him eight miles from the city.
He arrived at the Alabama
capital at eight o'clock at night.
Cannon thundered a welcome, and the shouts of a multitude greeted him. Formally received at the railway station, he made a speech, in which he briefly reviewed the position of the South
, and said the time for compromises had passed.
“We are now determined,” he said, “to maintain our position, and make all who oppose us smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel. . . . We will maintain our rights and our government at all hazards.
We ask nothing—we want nothing—and we will have no complications.
If the other States join our Confederacy, they can freely come in on our terms.
Our separation from the Union
is complete, and no compromise, no reconstruction, can now be entertained.”
The inaugural ceremonies took place at noon, Feb. 18, on a platform erected in front of the portico of the State-house.
and the Vice-President elect
, Alexander H. Stephens
(q. v.), with Rev. Dr. Marly
, rode in an open barouche from the Exchange Hotel
to the capitol
, followed by a multitude of State officials and citizens.
The oath of office was administered to Davis
by Howell Cobb
, president of the Congress
, at the close of his inaugural address.
In the evening President Davis
a levee at Estelle Hall, and the city was brilliantly lighted up by bonfires and illuminations.
chose for his constitutional advisers a cabinet comprising Robert Toombs
, of Georgia
, Secretary of State
; Charles G. Memminger
, of South Carolina
, Secretary of the Treasury
; Le Roy Pope Walker
, of Alabama
, Secretary of War
; Stephen R. Mallory
, of Florida
, Secretary of the Navy
, and John H. Reagan
, of Texas
Afterwards, Judah P. Benjamin
was made Attorney-General
Two days after President Lincoln
's call for troops, President Davis
issued a proclamation, in the preamble of which he said the President
of the United States
had “announced the intention of invading the Confederacy
with an armed force for the purpose of capturing its fortresses, and thereby subverting its independence, and subjecting the free people thereof to the dominion of a foreign power.”
He said it was the duty of his government to repel this threatened invasion, and “defend the rights and liberties of the people by all the means which the laws of nations and usages of civilized warfare placed at
He invited the people of the Confederacy
to engage in privateering, and he exhorted those who had “felt the wrongs of the past” from those whose enmity was “more implacable, because unprovoked,” to exert themselves in preserving order and maintaining the authority of the Confederate
This proclamation was met by President Lincoln
by a public notice that he should immediately order a blockade of all the Southern
ports claimed as belonging to the Confederacy
; and also that if any person, under the pretended authority of such States, or under any other pretence, should molest a vessel of the United States
, or the person or cargo on board of her, such person would be held amenable to the laws of the United States
for the prevention and punishment of piracy.
With this opposing proclamation the great Civil War
was actively begun.
In April, 1865, Mr. Davis
's wife and children, and his wife's sister, had accompanied him from Danville
to Washington, Ga.
, where, for prudential reasons, the father separated from the others.
He soon learned that some Confederate soldiers, believing that the
treasure that was carried away from Richmond
was with Mrs. Davis
, had formed a plot to seize all her trunks in search of it. He hastened to the rescue of his family and property, riding rapidly 18 miles. They were near Irwinsville, south of Macon, Ga.
The tents were pitched at night, and the wearied ones retired to rest, intending to resume their flight in the morning.
, at Macon
, hearing of Davis
's flight towards the Gulf
, had sent out Michigan
cavalry, whose vigilance was quickened by the offered reward of $100,000 for the arrest of the fugitive.
Simultaneously, from opposite points, these two parties approached the camp of Davis
and his little party just at dawn, May 11, 1865.
Mistaking each other for foes, they exchanged shots with such precision that two men were killed and several wounded before the error was discovered.
The sleepers were aroused.
The camp was surrounded, and Davis
, while attempting to escape in disguise, was captured and conveyed to General Wilson
had slept in a wrapper, and when aroused hastily pulled on his boots and went to the tent-door.
He observed the National
“Then you are captured?”
exclaimed his wife.
In an instant she fastened the wrapper around him before he was aware, and then, bidding him adieu, urged him to go to a spring near by, where his horse and arms were.
He complied, as he was leaving the tentdoor, followed by a servant with a water-bucket, his sister-in-law flung a shawl over his head.
It was in this disguise that he was captured.
Such is the story as told by C. E. L. Stuart
, of Davis
The Confederate President
was taken to fort Monroe
by way of Savannah
and the sea. Reagan
, who was captured with Davis
, and Alexander H. Stephens
were sent to Fort Warren
, in Boston Harbor
The following is the text of the inaugural address, delivered at Montgomery, Ala.
, Feb. 18, 1861: