Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American military officer, statesman, and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as the President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865.
A West Point graduate, Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce Administration, he served as a U.S. Senator representing the state of Mississippi. As a senator he argued against secession but believed each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.
Davis resigned from the Senate in January 1861, after receiving word that Mississippi had seceded from the Union. The following month, he was provisionally appointed President of the Confederate States of America and was elected to a six-year term that November. During his presidency, Davis was not able to find a strategy to defeat the more industrially developed Union, even though the south only lost roughly one soldier for every two union soldiers on the battlefield.
After Davis was captured May 10, 1865, he was charged with treason, though not tried, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. This limitation was posthumously removed by order of Congress and President Jimmy Carter in 1978, 89 years after his death. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by its leading general, Robert E. Lee.
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