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[Jefferson Davis]
Date: 1861
Artist and Related People:
Dimensions: Image (Paper): 3 5/16 x 2 1/8 in. (8.4 x 5.4 cm) Mount: 3 5/8 x 2 7/16 in. (9.2 x 6.2 cm)
Medium: Albumen silver carte-de-visite
Credit Line: Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2011
Description: Best known as the president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis (1807/8–1889) was a West Point graduate, cotton planter, slave owner, and politician. Like most moderate Southerners, Davis was not originally a proponent of secession but believed that it was the only way to protect the economic and social interests of states that relied on slave labor for prosperity. Although he had hoped for a military appointment within the Confederacy, Davis was asked to serve as president because of his political experience as well as his advocacy of Southern rights and slavery in the territories during his tenure as a representative (1845–46), senator (1847–51, 1857–61), and secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce (1853–57).

Mathew B. Brady photographed Jefferson Davis during his second term in the U.S. Senate. This image was widely reproduced and essentially served as Davis’ official photographic portrait while he was the president of the Confederate States of America. Many carte-de-visite artists used this portrait to create their photomontages of Davis’ capture; in most cases, a photograph of Davis’ head is combined with a drawing, painting, or photograph of a dress, petticoats or hoopskirt, and boots.

Accession Number: 2011.55.4