DAVIS, Jefferson

DAVIS, Jefferson
Library of Congress
1808–1889

Biography

DAVIS, Jefferson, (son–in–law of President Zachary Taylor), a Representative and a Senator from Mississippi; born in what is now Fairview, Todd County, Ky., June 3, 1808; moved with his parents to a plantation near Woodville, Wilkinson County, Miss.; attended the country schools, St. Thomas College, Washington County, Ky., Jefferson College, Adams County, Miss., Wilkinson County Academy, and Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.; graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., in 1828; served in the Black Hawk War in 1832; promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the First Dragoons in 1833, and served until 1835, when he resigned; moved to his plantation, 'Brierfield,' in Warren County, Miss., and engaged in cotton planting; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-ninth Congress and served from March 4, 1845, until June 1846, when he resigned to command the First Regiment of Mississippi Riflemen in the war with Mexico; appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jesse Speight; subsequently elected and served from August 10, 1847, until September 23, 1851, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Military Affairs (Thirtieth through Thirty-second Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1851; appointed Secretary of War by President Franklin Pierce 1853-1857; again elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1857, until January 21, 1861, when he withdrew; seat declared vacant by Senate resolution on March 4, 1861; chairman, Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia (Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Congresses); commissioned major general of the State militia in January 1861; chosen President of the Confederacy by the Provisional Congress and inaugurated in Montgomery, Ala., February 18, 1861; elected President of the Confederacy for a term of six years and inaugurated in Richmond, Va., February 22, 1862; captured by Union troops in Irwinsville, Ga., May 10, 1865; imprisoned in Fortress Monroe, indicted for treason, and was paroled in the custody of the court in 1867; returned to Mississippi and spent the remaining years of his life writing; died in New Orleans, La., on December 6, 1889; lay in state in City Hall of New Orleans, December 8-11, followed by interment in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, La.; reinterment on May 31, 1893, in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Va.; the legal disabilities placed upon him were removed, and he was posthumously restored to the full rights of citizenship, effective December 25, 1868, pursuant to a Joint Resolution of Congress (Public Law 95-466), approved October 17, 1978.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Montgomery, AL
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections including Elise Virginia Jones Vass reminiscences, undated; Charles T. Pollard confederate officers photograph album, undated; Davis' funeral procession photographs, 1893; correspondence in William Joseph Hardee papers, [186-]-[1962]; and Alabama governor military correspondence, 1860-1861. Also photographs and portrait.

Atlanta History Center

Atlanta, GA
Papers: 1862-1894. .5 cubic foot. Bound volume of letters, in part photocopies, of Jefferson Davis, Varina Howell Davis, and Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis to Sidney Root and members of his family; and an autograph book.

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Montgomery, AL
Papers: Correspondence in William Lowndes Yancey papers, 1834-1941; Semmes family papers, 1859-1913; photographs in various collections; and discussed in correspondence in numerous collections.

American Catholic Historical Society
St. Charles Seminary

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in Walter George Smith papers, 1775-1972. Appointment necessary.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 28 items.

Brown University

Providence, RI
Papers: In John Milton Hay correspondence, 1854-1914.

Chicago Historical Society

Chicago, IL
Papers: 1847-1889. Ca. 50 items. Correspondence, commissions, and other papers relating to the Confederacy. Correspondence includes letters by Davis regarding the Mexican and Civil Wars, family matters, and his life subsequent to the Civil War, and letters to Davis relating to the army and the Confederacy. An additional 70 miscellaneous items in various collections.

Duke University
Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1841-1938. 695 items. Chiefly personal and official correspondence, photographs, and portraits. Ante-bellum letters refer to political parties and questions, the slavery controversy, the Mormons, and election to the Senate. Civil War letters comprise the bulk of the material including secession and the formation of the Confederacy, military and naval operations, and foreign and internal affairs. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in John Warwick Daniel papers, 1849-1910 (bulk 1865-1910).

Emory University
Robert W. Woodruff Library

Atlanta, GA
Papers: 1846-1905. 120 items. Correspondence from and to Davis.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in Alexander Hamilton Stephens papers, 1821-1969; Joseph Francis Burke papers, 1832-1929; G.T. Beauregard papers, 1861-1893; and discussed in correspondence in numerous collections.

Filson Club Historical Society

Louisville, KY
Papers: Miscellaneous letters and references in various collections.

Harvard University
Fogg Art Museum

Cambridge, MA
Papers: In Mathew Brady photographs, 1860.

Historic New Orleans Collection

New Orleans, LA
Papers: September 25, 1851. 1 letter. Written by a third party for Davis to R.P. Anderson requesting that Anderson make arrangements for delivery of his papers and books from Washington, DC to Hurricane Landing, Mississippi. Also miscellaneous items in various collections.

Knox College
Seymour Library

Galesburg, IL
Papers: 2 letters (April 11, 1865; March 30, 1885) and 1 telegram (April 15, 1865) in Sang-Lee Civil War collection, 1834-1906.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1835-1913. 630 items. Includes correspondence, drafts of speeches, clippings, and material on pre-Civil War issues such as the transcontinental railroad and admission of California as a state. Available on 2 microfilm reels.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in George Watterson papers, 1809-1866; and Riggs family papers, 1763-1945.

Louisiana State University
Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Baton Rouge, LA
Papers: Correspondence in Jefferson Davis family correspondence, 1868-1907; Thomas O. Moore papers, 1832-1877; 2 letters (1882) in Eli J. Capell family papers, 1817-1932; 1 letter (1883) from Davis in Edward A. Burke papers, 1859-1929; and in Samuel A. Cartwright family papers, 1826-1864.

Memphis State University Library
Mississippi Valley Collection

Memphis, TN
Papers: Personal and business correspondence in Jefferson Davis-Joel Addison Hayes, Jr. family papers, 1864-1882; and letter of introduction from Jefferson Davis while president of Carolina Insurance Company in C. Ellis Tucker papers, 1871-1884. Finding aid. Miami University Library Oxford, OH
Papers: 1847-1890. 491 items. Chiefly correspondence with other Confederate leaders. Part of the Samuel W. Richey collection.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Jackson, MS
Papers: 1815-1919. 753 items and 7 volumes. In part transcripts and photocopies. Correspondence, speeches, legal papers, newspaper clippings, photographs, and portraits.

Museum of the Confederacy

Richmond, VA
Papers: 1847-1889. 7 feet. Family and personal correspondence, official papers, correspondence and other papers relating to his trial and imprisonment, photographs, and portraits.

New Jersey Historical Society

Newark, NJ
Papers: Transcripts of letters and narratives in Civil War papers, 1836-1913.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1841-1889. 54 letters.

New York Public Library

New York, NY
Papers: Manuscript of Davis' biography in Robert McNutt McElroy papers, ca. 1930s; in Walter L. Fleming papers, 1685-1932 (bulk 1845-1932); and Century Company records, 1870-1924.

North Carolina Division of Archives and History

Raleigh, NC
Papers: 1861-1899. 14 items. Includes letters as president of the Confederacy.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1840-1885. 9 items.

Princeton University
Seeley G. Mudd Library

Princeton, NJ
Papers: In the Andre deCoppet collection, 1566-1942.

R.W. Norton Art Gallery

Shreveport, LA
Papers: 1861-1865. 2 volumes. Official telegrams relating to sieges of Charleston and Savannah and official telegrams of Generals J.E. Johnston, J.B. Hood, and others relating to the Confederate operations in Georgia (1863-1864). Restricted.

Rosenbach Museum and Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1853, 1861, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1870, 1874. 16 items. Also telegrams in 1 volume (150 items) of telegrams received by Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, 1861-1865.

South Carolina Historical Society

Charleston, SC
Papers: Correspondence in Mitchell-Pringle family papers, 1805-1875.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division

Madison, WI
Papers: Correspondence in Ellis E. Jensen Civil War collection, 1759-1899; 2,000-page manuscript of "Jeff Davis Unknown" in John Meloy Stahl papers, ca. 1930-1944; and discussed in John Given Davis papers, 1800-1899.

Transylvania University
Frances Carrick Thomas Library Special Collections

Lexington, KY
Papers: 1824-1906. 1.5 cubic feet. Personal, business, and congressional papers and correspondence, photographs, and portraits. Includes 90 letters written by Davis, 23 during his imprisonment at Fort Monroe. Finding aid.

U.S. Capitol
Office of the Architect

Washington, DC
Papers: Correspondence and documents as secretary of war relating to the construction of the Capitol extensions and dome.

U.S. Military Academy Library

West Point, NY
Papers: Letters in Alexander Hamilton Bowman papers, 1856-1859; and correspondence in Lucia Chauncey Porter papers, 1853-1917.

University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa
W.S. Hoole Special Collections

Tuscaloosa, AL
Papers: 1823-1940. 5 feet. In part transcripts and photocopies. Chiefly personal and family correspondence. Also includes political and military correspondence, legal documents, writings, and photographs. Finding aid.

University of Michigan
William L. Clements Library

Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: 59 items (1861-1865) in the Schoff Civil War collection. Chiefly letters to Davis from politicians and generals.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: 1853-1902. 13 items. Letters to his friends and miscellaneous papers. Also miscellaneous items in various collections.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library

Rochester, NY
Papers: 5 letters by and 9 to Davis (1856-1870) in various collections. Finding aid.

University of South Carolina
South Caroliniana Library

Columbia, SC
Papers: Research materials and unpublished manuscript biography in Katharine Macbeth Jones papers, 1951-1977.

University of Southern Mississippi
McCain Library and Archives

Hattiesburg, MS
Papers: 1853, 1880. 2 letters. Concern military appointment and a request for information about the Confederate Congress.

University of Texas
Center for American History

Austin, TX
Papers: 1850-1889. 3 scrapbooks. News clippings, pictures, political cartoons, poems, and memorabilia. Material is predominantly northern and anti-Davis. Finding aid.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in various collections. Finding aid.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: Numerous items in various collections. Finding aid.

Virginia State Library and Archives

Richmond, VA
Papers: 2 letters (1861, 1863); 1 letter (June 25, 1823) from father Samuel Davis; 1 letter (March [1], 1863) from Varina Howell Davis; 1 message (February 9, 1864) from Robert E. Lee; 1 letter (March 22, 1870) to Albert Taylor Bledsoe; 1 letter ((August 31, 1889) to Major Walker Taylor; items in Isaac Hammond collection, 1839-1875; Johnston family papers, 1779-1891; Robert E. Lee papers, 1834-1884, copies of originals in Washington and Lee University Library; 309 pages of letters in Robert E. Lee correspondence with Jefferson Davis, 1862-1865; in William H. Payne papers, 1786-1910; and a clipping (February 21, 1911) reminiscence of J. Willcox Brown concerning "Why Jefferson Davis was never tried."

The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Rice University

Houston, TX
Research Libraries Information Network In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Brigham Young University, Special Collections, Provo, UT; Brown University, Providence, RI; Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY; Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY; Hagley Museum and Library, Greenville, DE; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, IA; Historic New Orleans Collection, LA; Johns Hopkins University, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Baltimore, MD; Maine Historical Society, Portland, ME; Manhattanville College Library, Purchase, NY; New York Public Library, New York, NY; New York State Library, Albany, NY; State University of New York at Albany, Special Collections, Albany, NY; Rice University Library, Houston, TX; Sheldon Museum Research Center, Middlebury, VT; State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; State University of New York, Buffalo, Poetry and Rare Books, Buffalo, NY; Tulane University Library, New Orleans, LA; University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, IA; University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI; University of Oklahoma, Carl Albert Center, Congressional Archives, Norman, OK; University of Toledo Library, Toledo, OH; University of Virginia, Alderman Library, Charlottesville, VA; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Library, Blacksburg, VA; Western Kentucky University Library, Bowling Green, KY; and Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Allen, Felicity. Jefferson Davis: Unconquerable Heart. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Allen, William C. "Senators Poindexter, Davis, and Stennis: Three Mississippians in the History of the United States Capitol." Journal of Mississippi History 65 (2003): 191-214.

Bancroft, A.C. The Life and Death of Jefferson Davis, Ex-President of the Southern Confederacy. New York: J.S. Ogilvie, 1889.

Beringer, Richard E. "Jefferson Davis's Pursuit of Ambition: The Attractive Features of Alternative Decisions." Civil War History 38 (March 1992): 5-38.

Canfield, Cass. The Iron Will of Jefferson Davis. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.

Cooper, William J., Jr. Jefferson Davis, American. New York: Knopf, 2000.

Crist, Lynda Lasswell. "A 'Duty Man': Jefferson Davis as Senator." Journal of Mississippi History 51 (November 1989): 281-95.

Cutting, Elisabeth Brown. Jefferson Davis, Political Soldier. New York: Dodd, Mead Co., 1930.

Daniel, John Warwick, ed. Life and Reminiscences of Jefferson Davis. Baltimore: R.H. Woodward Co., 1890.

Davis, Jefferson. The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. 2 vols. 1881. Reprint, with new foreword by James M. McPherson. New York: Da Capo Press, 1990.

Davis, Varina. Jefferson Davis: Ex-President of the Confederate States of America, a Memoir by His Wife. 2 vols. 1890. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.

Davis, William C. Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

Dodd, William Edward. "Jefferson Davis." In Statesmen of the Old South: or, From Radicalism to Conservative Revolt, pp. 171-235. New York: Macmillan Co., 1911.

___. Jefferson Davis. 1907. Reprint. New York: Russell Russell, 1966.

Dugard, Martin. The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

Eaton, Clement. Jefferson Davis. New York: Free Press, 1977.

Eckenrode, Hamilton J. Jefferson Davis, President of the South. 1923. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.

Escott, Paul D. "Jefferson Davis and Slavery in the Territories." Journal of Mississippi History 39 (May 1977): 97-116.

Ezell, John. "Jefferson Davis Seeks Political Vindication, 1851-1857." Journal of Mississippi History 26 (November 1964): 307-21.

Foote, Shelby. "Jefferson Davis: Prologue and Epilogue." In Mississippi Heroes, edited by Dean Faulkner Wells and Hunter Cole, pp. 67-104. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1980.

Gordon, Armistead Churchill. Jefferson Davis. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918.

Hansen, Vagn K. "Jefferson Davis and the Repudiation of Mississippi Bonds: The Development of a Political Myth." Journal of Mississippi History 33 (May 1971): 105-32.

Jones, John J. "A Historiographical Study of Jefferson Davis." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri, 1970.

McElroy, Robert McNutt. Jefferson Davis: The Unreal and Real. 2 vols. New York: Harper Brothers, 1937.

Monroe, Haskell M., James T. McIntosh, Lynda Lasswell Crist, and Mary Seaton Dix, eds. The Papers of Jefferson Davis. 11 vols. to date (of 15 planned volumes). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971-. Vol. 1 was reprinted, with extensive revisions, in 1991; Vol. 2 reprinted in 1987.

Ramage, James A. "Jefferson Davis: Family Influences in the Making of a Great Statesman." Journal of Mississippi History 51 (November 1989): 341-56.

Rowland, Dunbar, ed. Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist: His Letters, Papers, and Speeches. 10 vols. 1923. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1973.

Sanders, Charles W., Jr. "Jefferson Davis and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference: 'To Secure Peace to the Two Countries.'" The Journal of Southern History 63 (November 1997): 803-26.

Sanders, Phyllis Moore. "Jefferson Davis: Reactionary Rebel, 1808-1861." Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1976.

Schaff, Morris. Jefferson Davis, His Life and Personality. Boston: J.W. Luce Co., 1922.

Shelton, William Allen. "The Young Jefferson Davis, 1808-1846." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kentucky, 1977.

Strode, Hudson. Jefferson Davis. 3 vols. New York: Harcourt, Brace Co., 1955-1964.

___, ed. Jefferson Davis, Private Letters, 1823-1889. New York: Harcourt, Brace World, 1966.

Tate, Allen. Jefferson Davis: His Rise and Fall, a Biographical Narrative. New York: Minton, Balch Co., 1929.

Winston, Robert Watson. High Stakes and Hair Trigger: The Life of Jefferson Davis. New York: Henry Holt Co., 1930.

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