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Jefferson Davis

Rebels Held Out So Long Due to
His “Sagicity and Indomitable Will”

Jefferson Davis, U.S. statesman and only President of the Confederate States of America, was born June 3, 1808, near Fairview, Kentucky. He was the last of ten children. His potential forbears migrated from Wales in the 17th century and his maternal ancestors were Scots who came here in the 18th century. Davis was graduated from West Point in 1829 and served in the Blackhawk and Mexican Wars. He was elected a representative and later a senator to the U.S. Congress from Mississippi. In 1853, he was named Secretary of War by President Pierce. Davis was a senator when Mississippi seceded in 1861. He made a moving speech of resignation, pleading for peace, but it was too late. Two weeks later, he was chosen unanimously as provisional president of the Confederacy. Davis’ genius lay in putting together a country with only cotton and courage. The South had only a fraction of the North’s arms, industry and population. It also lacked a navy. Within months, Davis had created an arms industry while his agents scoured Europe for more arms. General Robert E. Lee called Davis “My best military adviser.” A Northern writer said, “The Rebels held out for so long because of the sagacity, energy and indomitable will of Jefferson Davis.” When the war ended he was shackled and imprisoned for two years under grim conditions. His health suffered, but he was never brought to trial. He traveled throughout Europe after the war. Before the Saint Andrew Society of Memphis in 1875, he made a remarkable address in which he revealed an astonishing knowledge of Scottish geography, history, character and literature. He died December 6, 1889, at his home in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546