THREE TYPICAL SOUTHERNERS
IN the group of leaders of public sentiment in the '30s and '40s, as sketched in Chapter V, some of the foremost-- Clay, Webster, and Birney--were influential in both sections of the country. But in the next decade the division is clear between the leaders of the South and of the North. Let us glance at two separate groups.
Jefferson Davis was in many ways a typical Southerner. He was a sincere, able, and high-minded man. The guiding aim of his public life was to serve the community as he understood its interests. Personal ambition seemingly influenced him no more than is to be expected in any strong man; and, whatever his faults of judgment or temper, it does not appear that he ever knowingly sacrificed the public good to his own profit or aggrandizement. But he was devoted to a social system and a political theory which bound his final allegiance to his State and his section. After a cadetship at West Point and a brief term of military service, he lived for eight years, 1837-45, on a Mississippi plantation, in joint ownership and control with an older brother. In these early years, and in the seclusion of a plantation, his theories crystallized and his mental habits grew. The circumstances of such life fostered in Southern politicians the tendency to logical and symmetrical theories, to which they tenaciously held, unmodified by the regard for experience which is bred from free and various contact with the large world of affairs. Davis fully accepted the theory of State sovereignty which won general favor in the