This Day in History – November 6th, 1861

640px-President-Jefferson-DavisIn 1861, when Mississippi had seceded from the Union, Jefferson Davis sent a telegraph message to Governor John J. Pettus saying, “Judge what Mississippi requires of me and place me accordingly.” On January 23rd, 1861, Pettus made Davis a major general of the Army of Mississippi. On February 9th, a constitutional convention met at Montgomery, Alabama and considered Davis and Robert Toombs of Georgia as a possible president. Davis, who had widespread support from six of the seven states, easily won. He was seen as the “champion of a slave society and embodied the values of the planter class,” and was elected provisional Confederate President by acclamation. He was inaugurated on February 18th, 1861. Alexander Stephens was chosen as Vice President, but he and Davis feuded constantly.

Davis was the first choice because of his strong political and military credentials. He wanted to serve as commander in chief of the Confederate armies but said he would serve wherever directed. His wife Varina later wrote that when he received word that he had been chosen as president, “Reading that telegram he looked so grieved that I feared some evil had befallen our family.”


The original Confederate Cabinet. L-R: Judah P. Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Christopher Memminger, Alexander Stephens, LeRoy Pope Walker, Jefferson Davis, John H. Reagan and Robert Toombs

When Virginia joined the Confederacy, Davis moved his government to Richmond in May 1861. He and his family took up his residence there at the White House of the Confederacy later that month. Having served since February as the provisional president, Davis was elected to a full six-year term on November 6th, 1861 and was inaugurated on February 22, 1862.

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