The Money Changer on Jefferson Davis
From Free North CarolinaOn 6 December 1885 President Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans.
Born just across the Tennessee line in Kentucky in 1808, he graduated from West Point in 1828, & later fought in the Black Hawk War (1832). There he served under Col. Zachary Taylor (later US president) and married his daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor. Married in 1835, bride & groom both contracted malaria, and Sarah died three months after they were wed.
After 8 years as a recluse, Davis was elected to the US House in 1845, shortly after marrying Varina Howell. He resigned from the house in 1846 to lead a volunteer regiment in the Mexican- American War. Because of his heroic war service, the Mississippi governor appointed him US Senator for an unexpired term. In the senate he chaired the Committee on Military Affairs, and in 1853 President Pierce made him Secretary of War. Ironically, he updated the very US Army which would later face the Confederacy with the latest technology.
Not a secessionist himself, he left the Senate when Mississippi seceded, and was elected president of the new Confederacy in February, 1861. Critics abound who in hindsight can show what terrible mistakes Davis made. R. E. Lee didn't think so, and it is doubtful that anyone could have done a better job leading the South.
At the War's end Davis was captured near Washington, Georgia. When he was transferred to a military transport at the coast, the little black boy, Jim Limber, whom his wife had rescued from a beating on Richmond's streets and whom the Davises had adopted, was torn from Mrs. Davis' arms and never seen again.
Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for two years under monstrously cruel conditions at Fortress Monroe. Pope Pius IX sent him a crown of thorns. The whole time he was threatened with prosecution for his part in the war, but eventually the US government realized they could never get away with a trial because secession was not illegal. He was released on a $100,000 bond, posted by in part by prominent Northerners such as Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, & Gerrit Smith.
No point in my praising Jefferson Davis' astonishing nobility, courage, & purity of heart. Y'all will say I am biased. However if you want to learn for yourself what Davis was like, read Mrs. Felicity Allen's Jefferson Davis, Unconquered Heart. She spent 20 years researching & preparing her book, and it's the best Davis biography available.