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Jefferson Davis Essays

Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era

William J. Cooper, Jr.

Publication Year: 2013

In his masterpiece, Jefferson Davis, American, William J. Cooper, Jr., crafted a sweeping, definitive biography and established himself as the foremost scholar on the intriguing Confederate president. Cooper narrows his focus considerably in Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era, training his expert eye specifically on Davis's participation in and influence on events central to the American Civil War. Nine self-contained essays address how Davis reacted to and dealt with a variety of issues that were key to the coming of the war, the war itself, or in memorializing the war, sharply illuminating Davis's role during those turbulent years. Cooper opens with an analysis of Davis as an antebellum politician, challenging the standard view of Davis as either a dogmatic priest of principle or an inept bureaucrat. Next, he looks closely at Davis's complex association with secession, which included, surprisingly, a profound devotion to the Union. Six studies explore Davis and the Confederate experience, with topics including states' rights, the politics of command and strategic decisions, Davis in the role of war leader, the war in the West, and the meaning of the war. The final essay compares and contrasts Davis's first inauguration in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1861 with a little-known dedication of a monument to Confederate soldiers in the same city twenty-five years later. In 1886, Davis—an old man of seventy-eight and in poor health—had himself become a living monument, Cooper explains, and was an essential element in the formation of the Lost Cause ideology. Cooper's succinct interpretations provide straightforward, compact, and deceptively deep new approaches to understanding Davis during the most critical time in his life. Certain to stimulate further thought and spark debate, Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era offers rare insight into one of American history's most complicated and provocative figures.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

1. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF SOUTHERN POLITICS

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pp. 3-18

2. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE POLITICS OF SECESSION

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pp. 19-32

3. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND STATES’ RIGHTS IN THE CONFEDERACY

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pp. 33-40

4. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE POLITICS OF CONFEDERATE COMMAND

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pp. 41-54

5. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE POLITICAL DIMENSIONS OF CONFEDERATE STRATEGY

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pp. 55-66

6. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE WAR IN THE WEST

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pp. 67-78

8. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE MEANING OF THE WAR

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pp. 91-100

9. JEFFERSON DAVIS AND TWO MONTGOMERY INAUGURALS, 1861 AND 1886

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pp. 101-108

E-ISBN-13: 9780807134597
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807150092

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 299039028
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era

Jefferson Davis

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Jefferson Davis was born on June, 3rd, 1808, in Christian County, Kentucky. He was educated at Transylvania University and at the U.S. Military Academy. After his graduation in 1828, he served in the army until bad health forced him to residn in 1835.

He was a farmer in Mississippi from 1835 to 1845. Then he was elected to the U.S. congress. In 1846, he resigned his seat in order to serve in the Mexican War and fought at Monterrey and Buena Vista, where he was wounded. He was a U.S. Senator from Mississippi from 1847 to 1857, and a U.S. Senator again from 1857 to 1861.

As a Senator, he was in support of slavery and states' rights. "He also influenced Pice to sign in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which favored the South and increased the bitterness of the struggle over slavery. (Encarta, Davis Jefferson. 97)"

In his second term as a Senator he became the spokesman for the Southern point of view. He opposed the idea of secession from the Union as a way of maintaining the principles in the South. Even after the first steps toward secession had been taken, he tried to keep the Southern states in the Union. When the state of Mississippi seceeded, he withdrew from the Senate. On February 18, 1861, the congress of the Confederate States made him president. He was elected to the office by popular vote for a 6-year term and was inaugurated un Richmond, Virginia, the new capital of the Confederacy. He failed to raise enough money to fight the Civil War and could not obtain help for the Confederacy from foreign governments.

One of the accomplishments of Jefferson Dacis, was the raising of the Confederate army. Davis had a difficult task to preform. He was the head of the new nation in the beginnings of a major war. The South had inferior railroads compared to the Union, no navy, no gunpowder mills, and a reat lack of arms and ammunition. "The South's only resource seemed to have been of cotton and courage." (Davis, W. P 128). Despite this, the Confederates demolished the North at the battle of Bull Run. Somehow, with limited resources, Dacis made facotries for arms, cannons, powders and ammunition. Old naval yards were restored and gunboats were built. Davis sent agents to Europe to buy arms and ammunition and representatives were sent to try and secure help from England and France.

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These representatives were unsuccesful.

In 1862, Davis appointed Robert E. Lee as the leader of the Army of North Virginia. Lee remained Davis' most favored commander and one of the strongerst and most loyal of Davis' supporters. In May of 1865, Lee, without the authorization of Davis, surrendered to the North. Upon hearing this, Davis and his cabinet fled farther to continue the struggle. He finally realized defeat and was captured by Northern troops. He was imprisoned for two years, and then released without trial.

Jefferson made some minor accomplishments once he was released. Although these are not as great as being the president of the Confederacy, they are quite important to Davis' life. After he was released and had regained his health he wrote "The Rise and Fall of Government". He became the main spokesperson for the defeated south and was asked to rejoin the Senate, but he declined. He neither apologized nor asked for amnesty for his actions during the Civil War. He believed that he had done nothing wrong. He believed that he needed to stand up for the states' rights no matter how bad the conditions got. In other words, he stood up for what he believed in. He never regained citizenship with the United States. He died in 1889 of a complicated bronchial ailment, and was given a huge funeral by southern supporters. He was buried in Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond, Virginia.



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