Jefferson Davis Timeline
Timeline Description: Jefferson Davis was an American leader of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and served as a statesman and President of the Confederate State of America for its short history, from 1861 to 1865.

Date Event
June 3, 1808 Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky.

He was the youngest of ten children of Samuel Emory Davis and Jane Cook Davis both from Pennsylvania.
1811 The family moved twice and settled in Mississippi (1811-1813).

Davis' family went to Louisiana first and later to Mississippi. In 1813 he began his education at the Wilkinson Academy near the family cotton plantation. Two years later he went to Catholic school and was the only Protestant student at the school.
1818 Davis went on to higher education (1818 - 1821).

Davis went on to Jefferson College in Mississippi and then to Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky. His father always stressed studies and told him that, "Knowledge is power."
1832 Graduated from United States Military Academy known as West Point (1828 - 1832).

Davis entered West Point later in life and graduated 23rd in a class of 33. After this he served under Colonel Zachary Taylor and he was assigned to escort Chief Black Hawk to prison in 1832.
1845 Davis marries Sarah Knox Taylor.

Sarah was the daughter of his commanding officer in Wisconsin where they were stationed. Taylor did not agree to the marriage and so Davis resigned his commission hoping that would help sway him. Against his commander's wishes they married anyway. As a wedding present from his brother, Davis received 1800 acres of land to begin his own plantation.
September 15, 1835 Sarah died of malaria at the age of 21.

Davis also got the disease and became very sick. He became better and traveled to Cuba and upon his return, became a reclusive person worshipping his wife's memory.
1840-1845 Worked on establishing his plantation called Brierfield Plantation (1840-1845).

Davis began with one slave, James Pemberton. Pemberton became Davis' overseer and a good companion and friend that was unusual for the time. He had a total of 74 slaves by 1845.
February 26, 1845 Davis married for the second time.

Davis met Varina Banks Howell who was just 17 years old. A total of six children were born, three died before becoming adults and two survived their father. Davis himself suffered from poor health most of his life. But this did not stop him from being active in politics and he was elected to the House of Representatives in Mississippi.
1846 Established his second military career.

Davis resigned his political seat and raised a volunteer regiment becoming a colonel. He took his men to Texas to fight in the Mexican American War that had begun.
1847 Davis served well but was shot in the foot and came home (1847-1853).

He returned to Mississippi and was appointed as Senator to fill someone's term. He was elected to a full term in 1948. He resigned to run for governor of Mississippi but lost. Davis became Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce who won the presidential election.
1861 Davis delivers last speech before the U.S.Senate and becomes Confederate President.

His political life was stopped briefly by an illness that nearly caused him to lose his left eye. He again resigned from the Senate this year and was in charge as Major General of the Mississippi troops who were preparing for war with the Northern part of the country. At the Constitutional convention in Alabama on November 6, he was named First President of the Confederate States of America without any opposition.
1862 Davis appointed General Robert E. Lee to command the main Confederate army.

Grant was promoted to full general and oversaw the Reconstruction so called in order to bring the Southern states back into the United States. After President Andrew Johnson was impeached and Grant entered the White House at the age of 46 = the youngest man elected up to that time. Grant made poor appointments and scandals seemed to be everywhere in his administrations.
1865 Davis made many mistakes that caused great losses and ultimate defeat.

Davis and Lee both believed in states rights. He made a series of big errors by appointing his friends to high positions and using flawed military strategy, and being too controlling. The Union Army under Ulysses S. Grant captured Jefferson Davis and imprisoned him for treason a year later.
1881 Davis publishes his famous book.

With help from a very rich widow who invited Davis and his wife to live with her on her plantation in Biloxi, Mississippi, Davis, even though he was sick, was able to write and complete his memoirs. After she died she left the plantation to him as well as some money for him to live on.
December 6, 1889 Davis died on the plantation.

Davis died comfortable on the plantation now called Beauvoir and it is a great tourist attraction. It was damaged during Hurricane Katrina but was rebuilt.