The first and only President of the Confederate States of America
(1808-1889) Born in Fairview, Kentucky, he spent most of his childhood in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. He graduated in the West Point class of 1828 where two of his classmates were Albert Sidney Johnston, and Leonidas Polk, both future Confederate Generals who would be killed in the War Between the States. On sick leave at the start of the Black Hawk War, he returned to active duty in time to serve at the Battle of Bad Axe, which ended the war. When Chief "Black Hawk" was captured, Davis escorted him for detention at St. Louis. "Black Hawk" stated that Davis treated him with much kindness. He married Sarah Knox Taylor, the daughter of General and future U.S. President Zachary Taylor in 1835, but she died only 3 months after their marriage. Davis was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1845, but he resigned in 1846 to fight in the Mexican War, serving under General Zachary Taylor, his former father-in-law, and he was severely wounded at the battle of Buena Vista. He declined the appointment of brigadier general in the U.S. Army to re-enter politics, and in 1853, he was appointed Secretary of War, by President Franklin Pierce, serving in that cabinet position from 1853-57. He served as a United States Senator, from 1847-51, and again from 1857-61. After Mississippi seceded from the Union, Jeff Davis followed his state and joined the Confederacy. Calling it "the saddest day of my life," he delivered a passionate farewell address to his fellow senators as he resigned his Senate seat. He sent a telegram to Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus informing him that he was available to serve the state in any capacity necessary, and on January 27, 1861, Pettus appointed him major general of the Mississippi state army. Davis was chosen as the provisional president of the Confederacy and was inaugurated on February 18, 1861, at Montgomery, Alabama, and he was later inaugurated as president of the permanent Confederate government at Richmond, Va., on February 22, 1862. Jefferson Davis led the Confederacy throughout the War Between the States, 1861-65, being the only president in Confederate history. As the Confederate capitol fell on April 2, 1865, Davis and his cabinet escaped by rail to Danville, Va. Continuing to move further south, he was eventually captured on May 10, 1865, at Irwinsville, Ga., and held in prison at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was placed under the watchful eye of General Nelson A. Miles, and was confined to a casemate, was forced to wear a ball and chain on his ankles, required to have guards constantly in his room, was forbidden any contact with his family, and was given only a Bible and his prayer book to read. Despite the loud cries from many Northerners to hang the traitor Jeff Davis, he managed to escape that fate, and eventually his treatment improved significantly. After two years of imprisonment, Davis was released at Richmond on May 13, 1867, on bail of $100,000 (almost 2 million dollars in today's money), which was posted by prominent citizens including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Gerrit Smith. Davis and his wife Varina went to Montreal, Canada, to join their children who had been sent there while he was in prison, and they moved to Lennoxville, in Quebec province. Davis remained under indictment until after President Andrew Johnson's proclamation on Christmas 1868 granting amnesty and pardon to all participants in the rebellion, and the case of Jefferson Davis never went to trial. In February 1869, Attorney General William Evarts informed the court that the federal government declared it was no longer prosecuting the charges against him. In January 1877, the author Sarah Dorsey invited Davis to live on her estate at Beauvoir, Mississippi, and to begin writing his memoirs. After her death in July 1879, she left Beauvoir to Davis in her will, and he lived there for most of his remaining years. His book, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," was published in 1881. While taking a trip to New Orleans, Davis became ill and was diagnosed with acute bronchitis complicated by malaria. Davis's doctor Stanford E. Chaille pronounced him too ill to travel, so he was taken to the home of Charles Erasmus Fenner, the son-in-law of his friend J. M. Payne, where he died at 12:45 a.m. on Friday, December 6, 1889, in the presence of several friends and holding Varina's hand. The body of Jefferson Davis lay in state at the New Orleans City Hall from December 7-11th. His funeral was one of the largest ever held in the South with over 200,000 mourners estimated to have attended. His coffin was transported on a two-mile journey to the cemetery in a four-wheeled caisson to emphasize his role as a military hero, and he was buried according to the Episcopal rites with a eulogy pronounced by Bishop John Nicholas Galleher. After the funeral, various Southern states all requested to be the final resting site for the remains of the ex-Confederate president. Varina Davis decided that her husband should be buried in Richmond, which she saw as the appropriate resting place for dead Confederate heroes, and she chose Hollywood Cemetery as his final resting place. In May 1893, the remains of Jefferson Davis traveled from New Orleans to Richmond, and along the way, the train stopped at various cities, receiving military honors and visits from governors, and the coffin was allowed to lie in state in three state capitols: Montgomery, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Raleigh, North Carolina. When Davis was reburied, his children were reinterred on the site as Varina requested, and, when she died in 1906, Varina was buried beside him.
Wet plate, albumen photograph, mounted to a 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 card mount. Handsome portrait of the elegant looking Jeff Davis taken later in life, wearing a dark suit, vest and bow tie. His name, "Jefferson Davis" is imprinted in large letters on the front of the card mount. No back mark. The bottom part of the albumen print shows a little darker color in the background area which was most likely done when this excellent photograph was originally produced. This does not effect the subject. Great likeness of Jefferson Davis in this larger size format. An extremely desirable image of the only president of the Confederate States of America.