Jefferson Davis

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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Over a hundred years have passed since the Civil War, when Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate Stares of America, but even now opinions about this leader of the South differ remarkably.

Those who admire him call him "the most misunderstood man in history." Others say his leadership lacked any real spark of greatness. Yet they all agree on one thing, Jefferson Davis himself had a very sad but interesting life.

Born on June 3, 1808, he was the youngest and favorite son in a family of ten children, five boys and five girls. Clearly, his father had great hopes for him because he named him after the man who then occupied the White House, Thomas Jefferson. Young Jefferson's environment also gave evidence of the ambitious outlook. No other log home in their part of Kentucky had four separate rooms, beside windows of glass.

Still, Samuel Emory Davis was not satisfied.

He had heard about fortunes that were being made from cotton much father south, along the Mississippi River. When Jeff was two, the family packed up several wagons and traveled 800 miles, a journey of more than two months, mostly through wilderness.

They settled in the southwestern corner of what would soon become the new state of Mississippi. There, Jeff's father and older brothers, with the help of the twelve slaves they had brought with them, built a brick home with a wide front verandah. Not big enough to be called a mansion, neither was it the home of a poor family.

Ever since his own boyhood on a Georgia farm, Samuel Davis had been trying to better himself. After fighting in the Revolution, he had married Jane Cook and, as their family grew, he had kept moving south and west, seeking to join the upper rank...