Jefferson Finis Davis
b. June 3, 1808, Christian County, Ky.
d. December 9, 1889, Biloxi, Miss.

Before attending West Point, Davis studied at Jefferson College near Natchez and Transylvania College near Lexington, Ky. At West Point he did not distinguish himself - he finished 23rd in a class of 32 (the year was 1828). After serving 7 years in the army, Davis left the military to become a planter. In 1845 he entered politics and remained in that vocation almost continuously (except for serve during the Mexican war). He represented Mississippi in the Congress, was Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce, and was then appointed to the Senate. When Mississippi seceded, he returned home thinking he would be commissioned a military command but instead found that he had been elected provisional president of the Confederacy. Inaugurated February 18, 1861, Davis moved to Richmond, Va., and was devoted to the cause and developed a true nationalistic viewpoint. However, he was also narrow minded and tended toward cronyism. When Richmond was gained by Union troops, Davis and his cabinet fled. Even after Lee and Johnston's surrender, he refused to accept the defeat. He was captured near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10, 1865, and was sent to Fort Monroe, Va. for 2 years. The federal government had intended to try him for treason, but over time, Davis was paroled and the treason charge dropped. Upon gaining his freedom, he traveled to Canada and abroad before settling near Biloxi. There he wrote a book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, in 1881.
While Davis was never a general in the Confederacy, he was the Commander in Chief and is recognized in the collection as such.

Back to Collection

Next General

Generals Home Page  ||  Photos  ||  About the Collection  ||  List of Generals  ||  Bibliography  

A project of the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections Division
Content and Design: Heather Muller