Jefferson F. Davis was born to Samuel Emory Davis (1756-04 July 1824) (a Revolutionary War veteran) and Jane Cook (1760-03 October 1845) in Christian (now part of Todd) County, Kentucky on 03 June 1808. To this day, the origin of the middle initial "F." remains a mystery. Some have said it stands for "Finis", meaning last, as he was the last child born. That is likely just a myth, but nevertheless, he used the "F." in his signature until 1832, then never again. Around 1809, his family moved briefly to Bayou Teche region of Louisiana, but then settled in Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. He attended St. Thomas College in Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky, Jefferson College in Adams County, Mississippi, and Wilkinson County Academy near his home, before entering Transylvania University in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky. Following the death of his father, he went to United States Military Academy at West Point in Orange County, New York, and graduated 23rd in his class in 1828.

     He served at a variety of posts in the western frontier and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in 1833. Most notably, he took part in the Indian removal from Wisconsin following the Black Hawk War (1832). He resigned from the Army in 1835, and on June 17th of that year, married Sarah Knox Taylor (06 March 1814-15 September 1835), daughter of Gen. (later U.S. President) Zachary Taylor (24 November 1784-09 July 1850). He and his new wife planned to settle in Mississippi and live as cotton planters. However, while visiting family in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, Davis and his new bride became extremely ill with malaria. The fever claimed the life of Sarah, but Jefferson recovered. He traveled for a year to regain his strength and emotions from the loss. He returned to establish his plantation, Brierfield, in Warren County, Mississippi, and spent time studying philosophy, history, and Constitutional law.

     Davis married Varina Banks Howell (07 May 1826-16 October 1906) on 26 February 1845. He soon became involved in politics, and was a presidential elector in 1844. He then won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on 04 November 1845. He resigned in June 1846 to become Colonel of the 1st Mississippi Rifles in the Mexican War (1846-1848), and served under his former father in-law, Gen. Zachary Taylor (24 November 1784-09 July 1850). He helped negotiate the Mexican surrender following the Battle of Monterrey (20-24 September 1846) and was later wounded in the Battle of Buena Vista (23 February 1847). By war's end, he was appointed Brigadier General, but later declined the honor, citing it as unconstitutional.

     On 10 August 1847, he was appointed by Mississippi Governor (later Confederate Senator) Albert Gallatin Brown (31 May 1813-12 June 1880) to be a temporary replacement for U.S. Senator Jesse Speight (27 September 1795-01 May 1847) who had died. The next year he was elected by the state legislature to complete the term, and was re-elected to the post in 1850. Davis became a strong supporter of John Caldwell Calhoun (18 March 1782-31 March 1850) (the great South Carolina States' Rights leader), believed in strict Constitutional interpretation, and opposed the Compromise of 1850. He resigned on 23 September 1851, to run for Governor of Mississippi on the States' Rights Democratic Party ticket and narrowly lost the election.

     In 1853, U.S. President Franklin Pierce (23 November 1804-08 October 1869) appointed Davis Secretary of War. While in office, he made many improvements to the U.S. Army. He enlarged its size, and modified its weapons and uniforms. With the help of Lt. Col. (later Confederate Lt. Gen.) William Joseph Hardee (12 October 1815-06 November 1873), they devised an improved system of infantry tactics. Both armies used adaptations of Hardee's Rifle And Light Infantry Tactics during the War Between the States.

     Davis was re-elected to the U.S. Senate on behalf of Mississippi in 1856. He served as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, worked for the preservation of States' Rights, and for the right of territorial choice regarding the question of slavery. Following Mississippi's secession, he resigned his seat on 19 January 1861, in hopes of being appointed commander of the new nation's army.

     Instead, he was elected Provisional President of the Confederate States of America on 09 February 1861, and took the oath of office on 18 February 1861. Re-elected for a six year term on 06 November 1861, he was inaugurated as Permanent President on 22 February 1862. Davis was an able administrator, but made some poor command choices that inevitably cost the Confederacy the war. His health suffered, but he managed his duties as President with devotion. After the fall of Richmond, Davis and the Cabinet took flight southward. The group disbanded in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia on 05 May 1865, and he was captured near Irwinville, Irwin County, Georgia on 10 May 1865. Indicted for treason, he was imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe, near Hampton Roads, Virginia, awaiting a trial that never came.

     Following his release on 13 May 1867, he traveled and pursued business ventures, but without much success. He spent the final years of his life studying and writing at Beauvoir, his post-war home in Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi. His retrospective, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government was published in 1881. Davis died on 06 December 1889, and was buried in Metairie Cemetery near New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. His body was relocated to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia in 1893.

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