Thursday, February 17, 2011

Inauguration of Jefferson Davis - Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama State Capitol
Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.

The event took place on the portico of the historic Alabama State Capitol, then the Capitol of the Confederacy, in Montgomery. Stepping up before a massive crowd that stretched far up Dexter Avenue, Davis raised his right hand and took the oath of office. The spot where he stood is marked today by a bronze star placed by the Daughters of the Confederacy (today's United Daughters of the Confederacy).

President Jefferson Davis
Born in Kentucky in 1808, ironically not far across the Ohio River from the Indiana boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln, Davis attended Transylvania University before graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the same class as Robert E. Lee. He served, as did Abraham Lincoln, in the Black Hawk War of 1832, but resigned from the army in 1835 to marry a daughter of Zachary Taylor. Tragically, his wife died of fever only three months later.

A young widower, Davis managed his Brierfield Plantation in Mississippi for the next ten years before marrying Varina Howell, who would become First Lady of the Confederacy. Elected to the U.S. Congress from Mississippi, Davis served only a short time before resigning to take up arms in the Mexican War. Serving under his former father-in-law, General Zachary Taylor, he was noted for bravery at the Battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. Taylor went on to become President of the United States and Davis returned to Mississippi to become a U.S. Senator.

Star marking Inauguration Spot
He subsequently became Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce and was again serving in the U.S. Senate in 1861 when Mississippi joined other Southern states in seceding from the Union. Even as he resigned from his seat in the Senate, speculation was already growing that he would serve as leader of a new Southern nation.

He was elected President by the Confederate Congress in Montgomery and took the oath of office 150 years ago tomorrow on February 18, 1861. He held the office until the fall of the Confederate States of America in the spring of 1865.

To learn more about Montgomery's days as the First Capital of the Confederacy, please visit

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