June 3rd 1808: Jefferson Davis born
On this day in 1808, the future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, was born in Fairview, Kentucky. Davis spent much of his youth at the family cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, which contributed to his ardent support of slavery. He graduated from the West Point military academy (though not without causing trouble - being implicated in the 1826 Eggnog Riot) and entered the army, during which time he fought in the Mexican-American War. Davis entered politics in 1845, and worked his way up to Senator for Mississippi and US Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. While initially voting against secession at the outbreak of the American Civil War, Davis went with his state and supported the Confederacy. In 1861, at the start of the war, he was elected president of the Confederate States of America unopposed, having been sworn in as provisional president that February. Davis served as President until the demise of the Confederacy as the seceded states prepared to rejoin the Union after the North’s victory in the Civil War. Despite his success at keeping the Confederate war effort going for longer than was initially expected, he is generally considered ineffective compared to the Union President Abraham Lincoln. Davis failed to secure international support for the Confederacy, and caused rampant inflation when his administration printed money to cover the war costs, which led to violent protests in Richmond. Davis was imprisoned after the war but was never tried and was released after two years, being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in December 1868. Davis died in 1889 aged 81, after having popularised the ‘Lost Cause’ interpretation of the war which praised pre-war Southern society, and condemned the following period of Reconstruction.