Jefferson Davis Elected President of the Confederate States of America

On November 6, 1861, Jefferson Davis, who had been elected president of the Provisional Government on February 9, 1861—as a compromise between moderates and radicals—was confirmed by the voters for a full six-year term.

By the time of his inauguration as full president on February 22, 1862, the confederate capital, which had originally been in Montgomery, Alabama, had been moved to Richmond, Virginia, in part to defend the strategically important Tredegar Ironworks.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Davis was a celebrated veteran of the Mexican War. He served as secretary of war under Franklin Pierce and as a longtime U.S. senator from Mississippi. His first wife, Sarah Knox, was the daughter of president Zachary Taylor. Although a strong advocate of states' rights, Davis tried to temper the antagonism between North and South in the tense days leading up to the war, opposing secession even after South Carolina left the Union in December 1860. However, when Mississippi seceded in January 1861, the slave-holding planter cast his lot with the Confederacy.

Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865, during the American Civil War.

A West Point graduate, Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce Administration, he served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi. As a senator he argued against secession but believed each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.

Davis resigned from the Senate in January 1861, after receiving word that Mississippi had seceded from the Union. The following month, he was provisionally appointed President of the Confederate States of America. He was elected to a six-year term that November. During his presidency, Davis was not able to find a strategy to defeat the larger, more industrially developed Union. Davis' insistence on independence, even in the face of crushing defeat, prolonged the war.

After Davis was captured in 1865, he was charged with treason, though not tried, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. This limitation was removed in 1978, 89 years after his death. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by its leading general, Robert E. Lee.