Jefferson Davis (1807-1889) was the President of the Confederate States of America, the collection of states that seceded from the United States during the Civil War. Previously, Davis had served as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce and U.S. Senator from Mississippi. Accused of treason after the war, Davis spent two years in prison before retiring to his plantation.
Jefferson Davis was born in either 1807 or 1808 on his family’s Kentucky farm. His older brother arranged for his appointment to West Point, serving during the Black Hawk War (where he escorted the Native chief to prison) and the Mexican War . After the Mexican War, the governor of Mississippi appointed Davis to the United States Senate. Davis resigned from the Senate in 1851 to unsuccessfully run for governor of Mississippi, but having campaigned for Franklin Pierce, became Secretary of War. When Peirce left office, Davis ran again for his Senate seat, serving until Mississippi voted to secede in January 1861.
The newly formed Confederate States elected Jefferson Davis their first (and only) president in February 1861. When Virginia joined the Confederacy, Davis moved the capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond. Despite being personally involved in military planning, Jefferson Davis could not prevent the eventual overwhelming defeat at the hands of the numerically and industrially superior North. In 1881, he wrote his memoir, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, followed by A Short History of the Confederate States of America in 1889, completed shortly before his death.