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"Jefferson Davis."

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Identifier: P0084-1324

Title: "Jefferson Davis."

Description: Bust portrait of a bearded man in a suit turned to the right surrounded by a frame of leaves. "JEFFERSON DAVIS." and "Jefferson Davis, born in Todd County, Ky., June 3rd, 1808; died at Beauvoir, Miss., December 6th, 1889. He was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1828, and assigned to the First Infantry; served on the frontier, taking part in the Black Hawk war of 1831-32. He was promoted to first lieutenant of dragoons on March 4th, 1833; but, after more service against the Indians, abruptly resigned on June 30th, 1835, and having married, after a romantic elopement, the daughter of Zachary Taylor, then a colonel in the army, settled near Vicksburg, Miss., and became a cotton planter. Here he pursued a life of study and retirement till 1843, when he entered politics in the midst of an exciting gubernatorial canvass. He was chosen an elector on the Polk and Dallas ticket in 1844; made a reputation as a popular speaker, and in 1845 was sent to Congress, taking his seat in December of that year. In June, 1846, he resigned his seat in the House to become colonel of the First Mississippi Volunteer Rifles, which had unanimously elected him to that office. Having joined his regiment at New Orleans, he led it to re-enforce General Taylor on the Rio Grande. He served with distinction at Monterey and Buena Vista, and was complimented for coolness and gallantry in the commander in chief's dispatch of March 6th, 1847. He was a member of the United States Senate, 1847-51; Secretary of War, 1853-57; chairman of the committee on military affairs from 1857 to 1861. It was during Mr. Davis's term of service as Secretary of War that the troubles, a prelude to the Civil War, occurred in the Territory of Kansas, followed by the invasion of Virginia by John Brown and his twenty picked men, who had been trained in the Kansas struggle. These events stimulated the spirit of the antagonistic free-soil and pro-slavery parties in both North and South, until it became plain to all that the controversy must be settled by an appeal to arms. The prolonged controversy over Kansas again brought to the front the antagonistic theories of interpretation of the Constitution; the State rights theory which had become identified with the South, and the national theory which was almost unanimously held in the North. Mr. Davis early adopted the State rights theory, and maintained it by voice and pen until his dying day. It held that the founders of the Constitution did not intend to create--and in fact did not create--a new nation, but only a new government; that this government, the Federal Government, was not the sovereign, nor had it any sovereign powers; but such functions only as had been delegated to it by the States which, from the date of the Declaration of Independence, had been and remained sovereign. The national theory, on the contrary, held that the Federal Government was sovereign; that the State had ceded their sovereignty to it, and that rebellion against it was treason. It follows, if the State rights theory be correct, that the States, not having formally renounced the right of secession, had the same right to secede from the Union as they had to accede to it. Between theories so antagonistic and so resolutely held, the only arbiter was the field of battle. After various efforts at compromise between the two parties, neither of whom had either desire or intention to compromise again, the Gulf States seceded. When officially informed of the secession of Mississippi, Mr. Davis, in an eloquent and touching speech, took a farewell of the Senate and hastened home, where he found he had been appointed commander in chief of the Mississippi troops. Next he was notified that he had been elected provisional President of the Confederate States, and was inaugurated at Montgomery, Ala., February


Place: United States

Dates: 1861-1865

Type(s): Wood Engraving

Maker/Creator: Brightly's

Subjects: wood engraving
black and white
Jefferson Davis
Confederate President
Civil War, 1861-1865
Politics and government


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