February 9, 1861: Jefferson Davis Chosen President of the Provisional Government of the Confederacy

On February 9, 1861, Jefferson F. Davis, newly resigned US Senator from Mississippi, was chosen President of the provisional government of the Confederacy by the delegates of the Montgomery Convention.  In one sense Davis was a logical choice.  He had vast experience both in regard to military service, having served in the Mexican War and as a Secretary of War, and in government in both the US House and Senate.  He was widely regarded as the successor of John C. Calhoun as the unofficial leader of the South.  In another sense he was an odd choice.  While never doubting the right of secession, he very much doubted its wisdom.   He had argued against secession in the Mississippi legislature.  Davis is so much a symbol of the Confederacy, that it is odd to recall that he doubted the wisdom of withdrawal from the Union. 

When he received the news at his plantation Briarfield that he had been chosen President, Davis, according to his wife Varina, looked as if he were a prisoner receiving a sentence of death.  Davis during the War had many critics and after the War has had endless detractors.  I tend to agree with Robert E. Lee ( and Shelby Foote) who after the War said that he could think of no man who would have done as well as Davis did.  Against the odds, Davis came very close to establishing the Confederacy as an independent country, a fact that many historians tend to forget as they look at his day to day decisions.

Published in: on February 9, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on February 9, 1861: Jefferson Davis Chosen President of the Provisional Government of the Confederacy  
Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: