Skip navigation
Jefferson Davis
Date: American, 1807/8-1889
Biography: 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).