CIVIL WAR OP-ED: Remembering Jefferson Davis: American Patriot and Southern Hero

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis

The sesquicentennial “150th Anniversary” of the War Between the States continues this year. The Jefferson Davis State Historic Site located in Fairview, Kentucky will mark this event with the 204th Birthday Commemoration of Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), first and only president of the Confederate States of America, on June 1-3. 


Read more at: 


Do you and your family know what is considered by some folks the largest monument to an American? I will give you the answer at the end of this article.


Look at your calendar and see what dates in history are shown for June 3rd. It more than likely excludes that of a great American, the birthday of Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. The birthday of Abraham Lincoln is shown for February, but no mention for Davis in June. 


In 2008, Bertram Hayes-Davis, the great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis, recreated the 1861 swearing-in ceremony of his grandfather as Confederate President in Montgomery, Alabama. He told reporters:

"I stand here representing a family that is very proud of their ancestor."


Jefferson Finis Davis was born on June 3, 1808, in Christian County later Todd County, in the horse racing (Derby State) of Kentucky.


His grandfather was a colonist from Wales, living in Virginia and Maryland, and rendering important public service to those southern colonies.


The time is long overdue to teach our children not only the historical facts about Abraham Lincoln, but also those about Jefferson Davis. Please allow me to give you a few facts about Davis.


Jefferson Davis -- the first and only President of the Confederate States of America -- was a strong Unionist and defender of the United States Constitution. Our founding Fathers believed in the sovereignty of the states and so did Jefferson Davis.


Here are a few of his many accomplishments:


·         Graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point.

·         Fought valiantly in the War with Mexico.

·         United States Senator.

·         Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce.

·         First to suggest the Transcontinental Railroad to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, first to suggest the Panama Canal Zone and suggested the purchase of Cuba.


To better understand Davis, you and your family should visit "Beauvoir" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi. This was the last home of Jefferson Davis and where he wrote his famous book, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government." You can read more information about Beauvoir at:


Jefferson Davis' last marriage is said to have been a very good one to Varina, who gave her husband two sons and two daughters (Jefferson, Margaret, Winnie and Billy). One child was killed by an accidental fall at the Confederate White House in Richmond, Virginia in 1864, and an abused black child named Jim Limber was adopted by the Davises.  In 1865, Jim was forcibly removed by Union soldiers and never seen again. It is said that the Davis children were crying at the scene and poor Jim was kicking and not making it easy for his abductors. After the War Between the States, Jefferson Davis tried to locate the whereabouts of Jim Limber, but was not successful. The Davis family prayed that Jim was well and did well in his life.


There are few people who have touched so many as did Jefferson Davis. His funeral services were attended by tens of thousands of mourners. Milo Cooper, a former servant, traveled all the way from Florida to pay his last respects. It is written that, upon entering Davis' sick room, Cooper burst into tears and threw himself on his knees in prayer that God would spare the life of his old master and bless Davis family. Davis was first buried in New Orleans but later was removed to the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.


The answer to the question, "What is the largest monument to an American?" is:


The Jefferson Davis National Highway, which begins in Washington, D.C., and covers 3,417 miles as it passes through 173 counties and 13 states.


The success of the Davis Highway is attributable to the dedicated work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).


Johnson is a speaker, writer of historical essays, contributor to Huntington News Network, author of the book "When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He lives in Kennesaw, GA.
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