Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary

By Charles F. Ritter; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

JEFFERSON FINIS DAVIS
(June 3, 1808–December 6, 1889)

Jon L. Wakelyn

In order to set the historical record straight on the life and accomplishments of her much maligned late husband—the Confederacy’s President Jefferson Davis—the grieving but determined widow Varina Howell Davis (q.v.) plunged into her account with the claim that “he was universally regarded, both at home and abroad, as pre-eminently the representative of a great era, a great cause, and a great people” (1:1). She had indeed described something of the swirl of defensiveness that has come down through history of a man considered by many to have been overmatched and underzealous for a revolutionary task, while many others claim no other could have done a better job. In her life of Davis, based mostly on his unpublished memoirs and her memory usually of the good times, Mrs. Davis gives historians a portrait at once distant and personal but often confused about the many skills her husband needed to govern a region in insurrection against its own country. Varina also had described a man deeply loyal to the idea of his native land, yet the leader of those who would make a separate nation. The true record of his accomplishments must then relate to a man confused over what his proper activities were to have been.

Perhaps another look at that leader’s life will allow us to grasp the contradictions between talent and motivation that so marked his long and often useful life. All accounts of his early life state that young Jefferson Davis was raised in a successful border and later Deep South family. Rough, outgoing, and filled with a certain devilishness, Jefferson Finis was the youngest son of Samuel Emory Davis, a Revolutionary War veteran and an ever-moving small farmer. His mother was Jane Cook, whom his father met and married in Georgia. Soon after the war they left Georgia with their growing family and headed for the fertile lands of southern Kentucky. Eventually they settled in Hopkins ville, Christian County (later Todd County), where Jefferson was born on June 3, 1808. Like many a small slaveowner, Samuel and his sons worked hard to produce a meager crop. But they did not find success in Kentucky, and they

-112-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 466

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.