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Legacy of Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis was a man of unquestioned courage and commitment. He served with great distinction and bravery in the Mexican War and followed that with a political career that took him to the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and a major cabinet position. Jefferson Davis was chosen for the presidency of the Confederacy because of his comparatively moderate positions — he was not one of the “fire-eaters,” (strident and unyielding advocates of secession). Davis had counseled patience following the Election of 1860, desiring to give Lincoln a chance to succeed. As president, Jefferson Davis devoted his full energies to achieving Southern independence. He remained deeply involved the military planning, often at the expense of domestic matters. Jefferson Davis is often compared unfavorably with Abraham Lincoln. The former possessed a cold personality and reacted badly to any form of criticism. He seemed contented with the services of mediocre men as long as they agreed with him. Lincoln, on the other hand, complained bitterly about his political opponents, but was willing to suffer their barbs if it would help to advance his cause. Jefferson Davis, often dismissive of the states' political concerns, was frequently and savagely attacked by some Southern politicians who felt he was violating the very states’ rights they were fighting for. His tendency to micromanage military matters created intense friction with many of his generals. Like other defeated leaders, his historical legacy would no doubt have been enhanced by aligning with the winning side.