Title: Jefferson Davis collection Creator: William L. Clements Library Inclusive dates: 1861-1865 Extent: 0.25 linear feet Abstract:
The Jefferson Davis collection contains political and military correspondence of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America. Most of the letters are from congressmen, governors, cabinet officers, generals, and local politicians to Davis.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
United States senator and the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Finis Davis (1808-1889) had a lengthy military and political career. After graduating from West Point in 1828, Colonel Zachery Taylor assigned Davis to escort Black Hawk to prison at the end of the Black Hawk War (1832). He sat in Congress as a Democratic representative from Mississippi from 1845 to1846. At the outbreak of the Mexican War, Davis returned to the army and distinguished himself at the battle of Buena Vista (1846). Davis represented Mississippi in the senate from 1847 until 1851, when President Pierce appointed him secretary of war. He returned to the senate in 1857, but resigned with other secessionists in 1861. The constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama, selected Davis as provisional President of the Confederate States of America, and on November 6, 1861, the Confederacy officially elected him President. Davis held his headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, where he closely supervised the Confederate Army. Following the war, Davis was imprisoned for two years, and although he was indicted for treason, he was never tried. He spent his later years writing in defense of the Confederacy. He died in New Orleans in 1889.
The Jefferson Davis collection (91 items) contains political correspondence of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America. The collection consists of 10 letters written by Davis, including three to Robert E. Lee, and one document signed by Davis. The remaining 80 items are letters to Davis from congressmen, governors, cabinet officers, generals, and local politicians. They offer a variety of opinions and advice on the Confederacy and the war effort related to both political and strategic matters. Other topics discussed include military and political promotions and appointments, Southern public opinion of the war, intelligence and updates from the battlefield, prisons and prisoners, political support in Europe, and Confederate finances.
Items of note include:
January 17, 1861: Jefferson Davis to George Lunt, stating that secession was forced upon the South by Northern aggression and not caused by Lincoln's election
September 3, 1861: Simon Bolivar Buckner to Davis recommending that they take decisive military action in Kentucky
November 2, 1861: James B. Chesnut to Davis explaining his part in the planning of the battle at Manassas
April 9, 1862: Stephen Russell Mallory to Davis concerning iron-clad ships
September 3, 1862: Robert E. Lee to Davis recommending that his army invade Maryland
October 8, 1862: Two letters to Davis concerning the suspension of habeas corpus
April 6, 1763: Joseph Christmas Ives to Davis containing an inspection report on Vicksburg and other forts
July 29, 1863: James Phelan to Davis on enforcing the Conscription Act
July 21, August 3, 8, 14, 1863: Letters concerning calls to remove John C. Pemberton from office
October 12, 1863: John H. Reagan to Davis advising that the army cut off Rosecrans in Tennessee and predicting Union gains if they fail
November 18, 1863: George W.C. Lee to Davis recommending that Davis visit Robert E. Lee and his army
June 11, 1864: Davis to the Confederate Senate concerning the destruction of the gunboat Cairo
August 9, 1864: Herschel Johnson to Davis explaining that the Confederate army must defeat Sherman and protect Atlanta, Georgia
February 2, 1865: Act written by Thomas Bocock and Alexander Hamilton Stephens to "regulate the pay…of certain female employees of the government," signed by Davis
March 28, 1865: George A. Trenholm to Davis arguing for the Confederate government to purchase cotton