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The American Almanac – October 17, 2011




All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Davis, who had a distinguished career in the US Army, retiring as a Major General, served as a US Representative and Secretary of War (the predecessor the office of Secretary of Defense), was living on his plantation (Brierfield) near Vicksburg when he was notified of his election to the presidency of the CSA.  He was tending his garden at Brierfield when the news came to him by courier, as depicted in the Vicksburg Riverfront Mural Project (see above photo). Varina Davis would later write that she thought surely some family member had died when she saw his reaction to the telegram. Duty-bound, he left the next day for Montgomery, Alabama, to accept the presidency. Davis was chosen as president because no other southerner had a military and political record equal to his. As the only president of the Confederacy, Davis was in a unique situation as he struggled to run a war and, simultaneously, to mold a new country. Like his northern counterpart, Abraham Lincoln, Davis had epic struggles with his army commanders, the state governors, and Congress. Unlike Lincoln, he lacked the essential resources to ensure success. During the four-year war, he mourned Confederate losses, especially the deaths of many friends and family members in military service. After Robert E. Lee surrendered the main Confederate army on April 9, 1865, Davis was captured in May while trying to make his way across the Mississippi River to lead southern forces that had not yet surrendered. Indicted for treason and imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Davis endured solitary confinement and limited contact with the world beyond the fort, his health and morale declining until his release in May 1867. He was now a man without a country, had no salary or savings, and had no home because Brierfield had been seized by Union troops in 1862 and sold in 1866. Along with thousands of others, he had gambled all and lost all on the Confederacy. With a wife and four children age three to twelve to provide for (two sons had died), he lived in Canada and England, hoping to find a suitable job. Finally, in 1869 he agreed to be president of a Memphis, Tennessee, life insurance company and lived there until the mid-1870s. His fortunes changed in 1876. A longtime admirer, Sarah Ellis Dorsey, offered him a cottage on her seaside estate near Biloxi, Mississippi, as a place to write his memoirs of the war. There, Jefferson Davis was home at last. He loved Beauvoir, a property that provided welcome peace and quiet. The property became his when Dorsey bequeathed it to him in her will. During the 1880s he penned his two-volume memoir of the war, along with another book and several magazine articles. He and Varina Davis, who helped him with writing, entertained rafts of visitors, and they regained ownership of Brierfield after a long legal battle. Davis resumed extensive traveling, speaking mainly at Confederate veterans’ events. In November 1889 he fell ill at Brierfield and died in New Orleans on December 6, most likely of pneumonia. Before an estimated crowd of 200,000 people – the South’s largest funeral – he was interred in Metairie Cemetery in Louisiana, and in 1893, re-interred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital identified with his most famous political years.

A bit of trivial information to leave you with….

Chris Whittington, one of the co-founders of Vicksburg Daily News, was born just five years before Davis’ citizenship was restored.  Chris was born at Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital in Natchez, Mississippi, which has been re-named (due to the era of political correctness) Natchez Regional Medical Center. Chris was lobbying for this article to be written about his birth, but decided that it would appear WAY too egotistical and would not appear as humorous as he first thought. The story is kind of funny, though.  The next time you see Chris, ask him who Rastus Bustus Miller is and why the man is so special to him.  You’re gonna get a kick out of that story!]]]]> ]]>

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