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Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis (June 3, 1808 - December 6, 1889) was an American soldier and politician, most famous for serving as President of the Confederate States of America throughout the American Civil War.

Early life and first military career Jefferson Davis was born on a farm in Christian County, Kentucky (now called Todd County). He was the last of ten children of Samuel[?] and Jane Davis[?]. The Davis family relocated several times during Jefferson's youth, to Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana in 1811, and to Wilkinson County, Mississippi the next year.

Davis began his education in 1813, together with his sister Mary, at a log-cabin school a mile from their home. Two years later, he entered the Catholic school of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Washington County, Kentucky. He went on to Jefferson College[?] at Washington[?], Mississippi in 1818, and to Transylvania University[?] at Lexington, Kentucky in 1821. Davis entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1824 as a cadet[?].

Jefferson Davis successfully completed his four-year term of study at West Point, and graduated as a Second Lieutenant. He was assigned to the US 1st Infantry Division and stationed at Fort Crawford[?]. His first assignment, in 1829, was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red River for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year, he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill[?] in the Yellow River in 1831, he contracted pneumonia, causing him to return to Fort Crawford.

The next year, Davis was dispatched to Galena, Illinois, at the head of a detachment assigned to remove miners from lands claimed by American Indians. His first combat assignment was during the Black Hawk War of the same year, after which he escorted Black Hawk[?] himself to prison. In 1833, he was promoted to First Lieutenant of the US 1st Dragoon Division[?] and made a regimental adjutant[?]. 1834 saw his transfer to Fort Gibson[?]. On June 17, 1835, Jefferson Davis married Miss Knox Taylor, daughter of Colonel (later General and President) Zachary Taylor, and on June 30, he resigned from the Army.

From marriage to Mexico The marriage proved short. The newlyweds both contracted malaria, and Mrs. Davis died three months after the wedding at the home of Jefferson's sister in Louisiana. Jefferson recovered, sailed for Havana, Cuba, and then to New York City.

In 1836, he acquired Briarfield plantation in Warren County, Mississippi. The subsequent years proved uneventful, as Davis supervised the production of cotton at Briarfield, and studied political science.

Enters political life as a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives and engages, on election day, with Seargent S. Prentiss in a public debate on the issues of the day.

Canvasses Mississppi campaigning for the Polk and Dallas presidential ticket.

February 26. Marries Varina Howell[?].
Elected a member of the national House of Representatives.
December 8. Takes his seat in the House.
December 19. Speaks in the House, his first speech in that body, on naturalization laws. Offers resolutions with regard to military schools and a mail route from Mobile, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi.

January 13. Offers a resolution in the House requesting information from the Secretary of the Navy with regard to the Ship Island channel.
February 6. Speaks in the House regarding the ownership of the Oregon territory.
March 16. Delivers a strict-constructionist speech on the river and harbor bill.
March 27. Speaks on the bill to raise two regiments of riflemen.
April 8. Speaks on the bill to raise a regiment of mounted riflemen.
May 28. Speaks on the House resolution of thanks to General Taylor.
May 30. Speaks on the bill to alter the pay department of the Army.
June 12. Offers resolutions that medals be awarded in recognition of services rendered by General Taylor and his army at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.
June. Resigns his seat in the House.
July 18. Elected colonel of the first regiment of Mississippi riflemen in the war with Mexico.
July 21. Sails with the regiment from New Orleans for southeastern Texas.
September 21-23. Participates in the siege of Monterey, Mexico.

February 22. Wounded while fighting at Buena Vista.
June 20. Declines an appointment as brigadier general of volunteers on the grounds that volunteers are militia, and that the Constitution reserves to the State the appointment of all militia officers.
July 12. Mustered out.
August 10. Appointed to fill a vacancy in the U. S. Senate.
December 6. Takes his seat in the Senate.
December 30. Appointed a regent of the Smithsonian Institution.

January 3. Speaks on a bill to increase the size of the Army.
February 17. Speaks on the resolution of thanks to General Taylor.
May 5. Speaks on the bill providing for a temporary occupation of Yucatan by the United States.
July 1. Speaks in defense of the reputation of General John A. Quitman.
July 12. Speaks on the bill to establish a territorial government for Oregon.

January 12. Speaks on a petition for the African colonization of free blacks.
January 22. Speaks on resolution by the Legislature of New York with regard to the slavery question.
January 31. Speaks on the bill to aid the construction of a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama.
March 3. Speaks on the bill for the establishment of the Department of the Interior.
December 18. Made chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs.
December 20. Opposes a resolution inviting Father Mathew to a seat in the Senate on the ground of his being an abolitionist.

January 10. Speaks on the resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Vermont with regard to slavery.
February. Elected to the Senate for a term of six years.
February 8. Speaks on the question of receiving a petition for the dissolution of the Union.
February 12. Speaks on the subject of the extension of slavery to the Territories.
March 18. Speaks in defense of Buchanan's position on the slavery question.
May 1. Delivers a strict constructionist speech on the joint resolution providing aid to search for Sir John Franklin.
May 2. Objects, in a speech, to the granting of public lands to corporations.
May 8. Presents "the report and resolutions of the Legislature of Mississippi, on the subject which distracts and divides the people of the Union, and which threatens, unless checked in its onward course, to produce consequences fatal to the cause of human liberty, as secured and advanced by the Constitution of the United States."
June 13. Speaks on the bill to grant to Arkansas the swamp lands in that State.
September 28. Speaks on a proposition to abolish flogging in the Navy.
January-September. Speaks many times on Clay's compromise measures with regard to slavery.

January 22. Speaks on Clay's resolution of inquiry into the expediency of making more effectual provision for the suppression of the African slave trade.
February 18. Speaks on Clay's resolution with regard to resistance, in Boston, to the execution of the fugitive slave law.
September. Resigns seat in the Senate to succeed Pitman as Democratic candidate for governor of Mississippi.
November. Defeated by Henry S. Foote in the Mississippi gubernatorial election.

January. Takes part in the states rights convention at Jackson, Mississippi.
September-October. Speaks in Mississippi and neighboring States for the Pierce ticket.

March 7. Becomes Secretary of War.
July. Speaks in Philadelphia on the Administration's policy with regard to internal improvements, and visits New England.
December 1. Transmits to Congress his first report as Secretary of War.

January 22. Conducts Stephen A. Douglas and some other prominent southerners to the White House for an interview with the President on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill.
December 4. Transmits to Congress his second annual report as Secretary of War.

February 27. Transmits to Congress his elaborate report on the several possible routes for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
December 8. Transmits to Congress his third annual report as Secretary of War.

December 1. Transmits to Congress his fourth annual report as Secretary of War.

March 4. Re-enters the Senate.

Disabled from service in the Senate and threatened with the loss of his left eye.

Spends the summer in Portland, Maine, on account of ill health.
July 4. Delivers a speech onboard a ship off Boston in which he pleads for the preservation of the Union.
October 19. Delivers a speech in Faneuil Hall in which he urges devotion to the Union and obedience to the Constitution.
December. Speaks in the Senate on his proposed substitute for the Pacific Railroad Bill.

January. Speaks several times on the French Spoliation Bill.
February 1. Speaks on the agricultural colleges bill.
February 28. Speaks on questions connected with slavery in the Territories.
December 5. Speaks on a resolution of inquiry into John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry.

February 2. Submits six resolutions defining his position with regard to the relations of States.
February 29. Speaks on the bill for the admission of Kansas into the Union.
May 8. Speaks on his resolutions with regard to the relations of the States.

January 10. Upholds the right of secession.
January 21. Announces that his State has declared her separation from the United States, delivers a farewell address, and withdraws from the Senate.
January 25. Commissioned major general of Mississippi troops.
February 9. Elected Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Confederate convention at Montgomery.
February 18. Inaugurated Provisional President of the Confederate States of America. Appoints Peace Commission to settle differences with the United States without war.
March 3. Appoints General P.G.T. Beauregard to the command of the Confederate forces in and around Charleston, South Carolina.
May 29. Takes up his residence at Richmond, Virginia.
October 16. Elected President of the Confederate States of America.

February 22. Inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America.
May 31. Assigns General Robert E. Lee to the command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
December. Makes a tour of the West, reviewing the Confederate Armies.

August 8. After Gettysburg General Lee, on account of adverse criticism, offers to resign his command. Davis declines.

October-November. Visits Georgia to rally the people to the support of the Confederacy.

January 12. Appoints commissioners to the conference at Hampton Roads.
April 3. Leaves Richmond, Virginia, in company with the Confederate Cabinet, for Danville, Virginia.
April 9. Proceeds to Greensboro, North Carolina.
April 16. Proceeds from Greensboro toward Meridian, Mississippi.
May 10. Taken prisoner at Irwinville, Georgia.
May 19. Confined in the gun room of a casemate at Fortress Monroe.
May 23. Manacled.
May 26. His irons are removed at the suggestion of his physician.

May. Indicted for treason.

Admitted to bail, visits Canada and sails for New Orleans, Louisiana via Havana, Cuba.

Visits Europe.
December. Court divides on a motion to quash his indictment for treason.

February. An order of nolle prosequi is entered in his case.
Becomes president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company at Memphis, Tennessee.

Presides over the Lee memorial meeting at Richmond.

Urged to accept election to the United States Senate by the State of Mississippi but refuses.

Promotes the Mississippi Society for the purpose of stimulating trade between the United States and South America.

Visits England.

Returns to Beauvoir, Mississippi[?] to write The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government[?].

Completes The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government[?] and visits Europe.

Visits Alabama and Georgia.

March 10. Delivers his last address to the Mississippi Legislature.

October. Completes the manuscript of A Short History of the Confederate States of America.
December 6. Dies in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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