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The Hon. Jefferson Davis

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1079, p. 248.

March 16, 1861


Since we gave, a few weeks ago, a portrait of Mr. Lincoln, the President elect of the United States, one startling event has followed another in that country in sufficiently rapid succession to take away the breath from even the most go-ahead of our Transatlantic cousins. His election, like a firebrand thrown into combustible materials, set the South in a blaze. First South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed quickly by Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These States proceeded forthwith to form themselves into a new Union, called the Confederate States of America; and on the 18th ult. Mr. Davis (whose Portrait we give on our first page) was inaugurated at Montgomery, Alabama, President of the Southern Confederacy. We gather from the American papers some particulars of his life, though is it difficult, owing to the sway of party spirit at the present time in the States, to get an unbiased account of any one of their public men. General Davis first made himself conspicuous when a young man as a strong and unyielding advocate of the repudiation of her bonds by the State of Mississippi. He was sent to the United States' House of Representatives, and then to the National Senate, by the grateful Mississippians. When the Mexican war was begun he left Congress, and took an active part in the contest, being much superior to most of the leading volunteers of those times, as he was a trained soldier, having been educated at West Point, and having served in the regular army. He distinguished himself particularly at Buena Vista, under General Taylor, whose son-in-law he was. When Pierce was made President, in 1853, General Davis was appointed Secretary of War, and was the most powerful member of the Administration, ruling the President and also most of the members of the Cabinet. The only man who managed to keep tolerably independent of him was Secretary Marcy, who was at the head of the State department, and who kept his attention principally directed to foreign affairs. The Pro-Slavery policy of the Pierce Administration was due to Davis's character and conduct. He went out of the Cabinet when Mr. Buchanan became President, and was elected to the Senate by the Legislature of Mississippi, and held the office until he recently left it on the secession of his State. Elected President of the new Confederacy, his success in that way is supposed to indicate the ascendancy of moderate ideas among the Confederates, some of whom are understood to be quite willing to return into the Union.

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