The Life of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy Research Paper

The Life of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy
This paper examines the life of Jefferson Davis, focusing on his opinions about state's rights, slavery and freedom.
# 149036 | 3,234 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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The paper aims to understand the motivations for a man as educated, successful and as concerned with individual freedoms as Davis, to defend slavery and become what many see as a traitor to the country. The paper looks at his early years, his education, his time in the Army, his plantation that used slave labor, his duties as Secretary of War and his opposition to the abolitionist movement.

From the Paper:

"Prior to Southern secession Davis had many accomplishments and was viewed as a great Politician with a long career ahead of him. Many of his colleagues observed that "no man gave up more than Mr. Davis, because for several years he had been growing in favor with powerful elements [even] in the Free States, and, but for the exasperating quarrel of 1860, he would have been selected as the Presidential candidate of his party" (Hattaway XV). Having never held aspirations of office from the start, Davis was more of a reluctant politician, however, "in the antebellum South a gentleman was expected to participate in politics as a social duty" (Eaton 47). As a Southern gentleman and plantation owner it was the socially expected thing to do. Davis stated that "...political activism was his duty: "Man is not born for himself alone, or for his family only...rather, and especially in this land of self government, no one has the right to wholly withdraw himself from connection with public affairs" (Hattaway 8). Whether he wanted it or not, Davis was to be involved.
"Davis had attended West Point and served successfully as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Davis also served a term in the Senate during which he opposed secession and attempted to consolidate a position on states rights that preserved the union. He held out hope as long as he could. It wasn't till his home state of Mississippi had withdrawn from the Union that he finally acknowledged defeat. Davis always stated proudly, "I, sir, am an American citizen and the United States is my country." and so difficult was the day he gave his resignation and farewell speech before Congress, that Davis sincerely told friends "this is the saddest day of my life" (Cooper 9)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Cutting, Elisabeth. Jefferson Davis, Political Soldier. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1930. Print.
  • Crist, Lynda L. The Papers of Jefferson Davis. Vol. VI. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press , 1971. Print.
  • Cooper, William J. Jefferson Davis, American. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Print.
  • ---. Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008. Print
  • Davis, William C. Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour. New York: Harper Collins, 1991. Print.

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