Tim Kent: Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy

Listen to Tim Kent as he tells the story of Jefferson Davis, the man who was President of the Confederacy.

Jefferson Davis was a rowdy kid. He was always getting into trouble, and he hated school. He was smart, though, and he was accepted into West Point Military Academy. There, he also got into much trouble, but managed to graduate.

He then was assigned to the infantry under Zachary Taylor, who would later become President of the United States. But he met a girl and soon eloped to Mississippi. Unfortunately, they both caught malaria, and only Davis survived.

Davis then entered politics for a while. When the Mexican War broke out, Davis volunteered, again serving under Zachary Taylor. He proved to be an excellent military strategist, and gained a notable reputation. As talks of secession and war began to stir, Davis’ name rose to the surface as a candidate for President of the Confederacy.

Davis indeed became the President of the Confederate States of America. After a long and bloody war, the Union forces forced the Confederates to surrender. Davis was arrested and charged with treason. He was kept in a cell for 2 years awaiting trial, before he was finally released. All charges had been dropped.

Jefferson Davis had actually been hoping for a trial. He would have been given an audience at the Supreme Court, where he could make the case that he had not committed treason, if he could prove that secession was legal. Of course, if he proved that secession was legal, this would have frightening consequences for the Union leaders. It would prove that the Confederacy had the freedom to secede, and that the Union’s actions were criminal. Not wanting to risk these implications, the Union leaders understandably dropped the charges against Jefferson Davis.

Upon returning to the South after his time in prison, Davis was welcomed as a hero. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Interviewed by Angela Broyles.