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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Confederate States of America formed in Montgomery 150 years ago today

Alabama State Capitol Building
The historic Alabama State Capitol Building became the capitol of a new nation 150 years ago today when delegates from seven Southern states met in Montgomery and declared themselves a provisional legislature for the Confederate States of America.

The so-far bloodless revolution in the Deep South had begun in December of 1860 when South Carolina declared its independence from the United States. The Palmetto State was followed on the road of secession by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, with each of the states agreeing to send delegates to a meeting in Montgomery on February 4, 1861.

First National Flag of the Confederacy
Alabama's Secession Convention had extended the invitation when the state left the Union in January. The purpose was to consider measures for the common defense and support of the newly independent states.

As a large crowd gathered outside the historic building and military companies paraded on Dexter Avenue, the delegates met 150 years ago today and declared themselves a provisional legislature for a new nation called the Confederate States of America. They authorized a committee to begin work on the drafting of the Confederate Constitution and laid the groundwork for establishing a new national government. The new Constitution would take four days to draft and its approval would be followed on February 11th by the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as the first President of the Confederacy.

The historic building where the delegates met remains in use as the State Capitol of Alabama to this day. To learn more about its role as the First Capitol of the Confederacy, please visit