Jefferson Davis The Essential Writings

ISBN-10: 0812972082
ISBN-13: 9780812972085
Edition: Reprint 
List price: $17.00
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Description: Jefferson Davis is one of the most complex and controversial figures in American political history (and the man whom Oscar Wilde wanted to meet more than anyone when he made his tour of the United States). Elected president of the Confederacy and  More...

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Book details

List price: $17.00
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/10/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 496
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.352
Language: English

Jefferson Davis is one of the most complex and controversial figures in American political history (and the man whom Oscar Wilde wanted to meet more than anyone when he made his tour of the United States). Elected president of the Confederacy and later accused of participating in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he is a source of ongoing dissension between northerners and southerners. This volume, the first of its kind, is a selected collection of his writings culled in large part from the authoritative Papers of Jefferson Davis, a multivolume edition of his letters and speeches published by the Louisiana State University Press, and includes thirteen documents from manuscript collections and one privately held document that have never before appeared in a modern scholarly edition. From letters as a college student to his sister, to major speeches on the Constitution, slavery, and sectional issues, to his farewell to the U.S. Senate, to his inaugural address as Confederate president, to letters from prison to his wife, these selected pieces present the many faces of the enigmatic Jefferson Davis.As William J. Cooper, Jr., writes in his Introduction, Daviss notability does not come solely from his crucial role in the Civil War. Born on the Kentucky frontier in the first decade of the nineteenth century, he witnessed and participated in the epochal transformation of the United States from a fledgling country to a strong nation spanning the continent. In his earliest years his father moved farther south and west to Mississippi. As a young army officer just out of West Point, he served on the northwestern and southwestern frontiers in an army whose chief mission was to protect settlers surging westward. Then, in 1846 and 1847, as colonel of the First Mississippi Regiment, he fought in the Mexican War, which resulted in 1848 in the Mexican Cession, a massive addition to the United States of some 500,000 square miles, including California and the modern Southwest. As secretary of war and U.S. senator in the 1850s, he advocated government support for the building of a transcontinental railroad that he believed essential to bind the nation from ocean to ocean.

Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky but grew up in Mississippi. After graduating from West Point in 1828, he served at frontier military posts and in the Black Hawk War. He resigned from the military in 1835. For the next 10 years, he managed his brother's isolated plantation in Mississippi. In 1845, he entered the world of politics as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Davis's reputation as a historian rests on one work - The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1878-81), an account based in large measure on his own intimate experiences. Chosen by the provisional congress as president of the Confederate States of America in 1861, Davis faced criticism throughout his tenure. After Lee surrendered without his approval, Davis was indicted by the federal government for treason. Although he spent several years in prison, he was never brought to trial. In 1867, he was released on bond, and he retired to his estate, Beauvoir, on the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi. There he wrote The Rise and Fall to vindicate the South in general and his presidency in particular.

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