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Jefferson Davis

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And So It Goes…

And so, the final blows fall around us, in our institutions and on our streets, and we can say as God Himself once said, “It is finished.” He said it of His great work of redemption, but we can now say it of the noblest experiment of government ever attempted by man—the “united” States of America. As in all things,…
Valerie Protopapas
November 18, 2022
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Jefferson Davis on Robert E. Lee

Remarks of President Davis at the Meeting of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors held at the First Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia, November 3, 1870, for the purpose of organizing the Lee Monument Association, as reported in the Richmond Dispatch for Nov. 4, 1870. Robert E. Lee was my associate and friend in the military academy, and we were friends until…
Abbeville Institute
August 30, 2022
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An Open Letter to the Valentine Museum

On June 24, 2022, Mr. William J. Martin, Director of the Valentine Museum in Richmond, gave notice that the damaged, desecrated, and vandalized statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis – on loan from the Black History & Cultural Center of Virginia - would be displayed by the museum within its core exhibit. The purpose stated by the Valentine is for…
H.V. Traywick, Jr.
June 27, 2022
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Jefferson Davis: American Statesman

Most people don't know anything about Jefferson Davis other than he was the President of the Confederate States of America. His great-great grandson, Bertram Hayes-Davis, explains why Davis should be highly regarded among all Americans today. https://youtu.be/RAKw8U_PBAc
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Recommended Books about the South and Its History

A friend recently asked me for a list of good books about the South and “the Late Unpleasantness” which he could share with his two sons, one of whom will be entering college this fall, and the other who will be a high school senior. I began naming some volumes, at random. But my friend stopped me in mid-sentence and…
Boyd Cathey
May 31, 2022
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Armistead Burt: A Friend to Jefferson Davis

On a recent visit to Abbeville, South Carolina I visited the Burt-Stark House, one of the main historic attractions of the town and the prime reason for my visit there. Followers of the Abbeville Institute website who also have an interest in Jefferson Davis may know that Abbeville claims it as the site of Davis’ last war council on May…
Thomas Hubert
May 20, 2022
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Jefferson Davis on Slavery in the Territories

The modern academic narrative says that the South’s purpose in secession and war was to “preserve and extend slavery.” Any other purpose is labeled a post-war “Lost Cause Myth.” In a speech on the floor of the Senate, February 13, 1850, Senator Jefferson Davis argued against Sen. Henry Clay’s call for banning slavery in the territories. The speech is a polemic against the reason…
Rod O'Barr
August 26, 2021
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The End of America?

I have a good friend who continually asks me what I think are the prospects for sensible, conservative—that is, normal—folks in these parlous times, what I think will happen to these United States, and particularly, what will happen to the South. In response to his questioning, I can’t give a satisfactory answer, at least one nicely tied-up and tidy like…
Boyd Cathey
August 2, 2021
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Is Secession Treason?

And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crimeAre pronest to it, and impute themselves…Tennyson, from Idylls of the King (1) The US Supreme Court, in Texas vs. White, ruled that secession from the Union was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, in 1869, wrote the majority “opinion of the court.” His opinion was not that of Thomas Jefferson, the…
H.V. Traywick, Jr.
June 3, 2021
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A [r]epublican in Exile

In Washington, D.C., while serving as Secretary of War in the 1850s, Jefferson Davis met Ambrose Dudley Mann, a native of Virginia who was the Assistant Secretary of State (and the first man to hold that office). The two men were drawn to each other immediately and became fast friends for the rest of their lives. In her biography of…
Karen Stokes
November 5, 2020
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Monument Avenue 1890-2020

For the majority of my life I have had an intense interest in the history of the War Between the States. This interest germinated as a result of two very influential places that I became well acquainted with from a young age. The first of these was the land that I have lived on since before my memory was even…
Patrick Seay
October 5, 2020
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What Jefferson Davis Would Tell Us Today (And Why It Matters)

In our turbulent times it is increasingly evident that our government is disconnected to the citizens of the republic. Rather, what we behold is a zealous managerial class, an elite buried deep in an aggressive bureaucracy which is, essentially, a “government within a government.” It is an unelected, self-perpetuating oligarchy that offers the illusion of popular participation, and the chimerical…
Boyd Cathey
October 28, 2019
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Kentucky’s Confederate Sons

Suffering from a nasty bacterial infection, the insomnia induced by a lamp kept lit in his cell at all hours, and the very real possibility of being hanged by a kangaroo court, Jefferson Davis drew strength during his postbellum imprisonment from a certain slender little volume that was once renowned throughout Christendom – the The Imitation of Christ.  The Imitation…
Jerry Salyer
January 30, 2019
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Two Southern Presidents in History

It was Wednesday, April 19, 1865. The Confederate States of America lay prostrate under the twin plagues of starvation and despair. Richmond had fallen and Lee’s surrendered Army of Northern Virginia was heading home. Four years of near constant fighting had depleted the South’s resources and killed a generation of its sons. On the military front, General William T. Sherman…
David E. Johnson
June 14, 2018
Review Posts

Is Secession Treason?

A review of With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era by William A. Blair (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis by Cynthia Nicoletti (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Was the act of secession in 1860-61 treason? This is one of the more important and lasting questions…
Brion McClanahan
June 12, 2018
Review Posts

Lincoln vs. Davis

A review of Brian R. Dirck, Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, 1809-1865 (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2001). Mr. Dirck’s comparative analysis of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis promises much.  Friendly reviewers have found his work “intellectual history at its most stimulating,” or “psychologically sophisticated.”  Alas, I confess that I do not see it.  To be fair to Mr.…
John Devanny
October 31, 2017
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Party Truths

Recent years have seen a new revisionist theme emerge in the history of America’s two principal, modern-day political parties – the Democrats and Republicans. In the new debate, two questions have emerged: Did the two parties switch platforms at any point in history? And did the Democrats, with its longtime Southern stronghold, always have a monopoly on racism and white…
Ryan Walters
September 4, 2017
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The Unionist Davis vs. The Radical Lincoln

Jefferson Davis was the conservative who tried vainly to save the Union in the face of Republican attempts to pit North against South, and force the South to seek a more perfect union without the North. The greatest ironies of that era was Rhode Island being the slave trading center of North America by 1750; Yankee inventor Eli Whitney making…
Bernard Thuersam
August 2, 2016
Review Posts

Jefferson Davis: A Judicial Estimate

This piece is published in honor of Davis's birthday, June 3. With unaffected distrust of my ability to meet the demands of such a great hour as this, I rejoice to be again on the beautiful campus of my alma mater, and have the opportunity of bringing a message to the young men of my country. And as this commencement…
Review Posts

Confederate Emancipation

  The following is a transcription of a speech given at the inaugural Education Conference of the Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans:  ‘The best men of the South have long desired to do away with the institution and were quite willing to see it abolished.’ – Robert E. Lee ‘Most informed men realized that slavery was not…
James Rutledge Roesch
March 15, 2016
Review Posts

Christmas in Richmond, 1864

This piece is taken from Varina Davis's recollections of life in the South, published in the New York World on December 13, 1896, and reprinted here. ...Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President's wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all be weighed and issued, and the playtime of the…
Varina Davis
December 25, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Scholars’ Statement in Support of the Confederate Flag (2000)

Statement of College and University Professors in Support of the Confederate Battle Flag Atop the South Carolina Statehouse, drafted just before the legislative "compromise." To the General Assembly and People of South Carolina: Certain academics have issued a statement on the cause of the Civil War as it relates to the controversy over the Confederate battle flag. They held a…
Clyde Wilson
November 18, 2015
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A Long Farewell: The Southern Valedictories of 1860-1861

This essay was originally published in Southern Partisan Magazine, 1989. As we conclude bicentennial celebration of the drafting and adoption of the Constitution of the United States, it may be hoped that we have finally arrived at the proper moment for looking back and ap­preciating the importance of those even more heated discussions of the document which occurred in the…
M.E. Bradford
November 17, 2015
Review Posts

Slavery in the Confederate Constitution

...... Although I have never Sought popularity by any animated Speeches or Inflammatory publications against the Slavery of the Blacks, my opinion against it has always been known and my practice has been so conformable to my sentiment that I have always employed freemen both as Domisticks and Labourers, and never in my Life did I own a Slave. The…
Vito Mussomeli
October 20, 2015
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One Ruler to Enforce Obedience

The peaceful political separation desired by the American South in early 1861 was best summarized by President Jefferson Davis’ in his inaugural address: “We seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated. All we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall…
Bernard Thuersam
October 5, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

A Sacrifice for His People: The Imprisonment of Jefferson Davis

In 1866 Margaret Junkin Preston of Lexington, Virginia, a sister-in-law of Stonewall Jackson, wrote a poem she called “Regulus.” Regulus was a Roman hero who was tortured by the Carthaginians but never yielded his honour or his patriotism. Her verse, which did not mention Jefferson Davis by name, was a reflection on the imprisonment of President Davis—a tribute to Davis’s…
Clyde Wilson
August 19, 2015
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Texas Reject

“Texans! The troops of other states have their reputations to gain, but the sons of the defenders of the Alamo have theirs to maintain. I am assured that you will be faithful to the trust.” – Jefferson Davis, 1861 This ruling was a foregone conclusion. As soon as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg implicitly compared Confederates – the descendants of American…
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Independence, Peace, and Prosperity

Jefferson Davis delivered this message to the Confederate Congress on 18 February 1861. GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Executive of the Provisional Government which you have instituted, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned to me with an humble distrust of my…
Jefferson Davis
June 5, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Confederate Connections

A friend of mine, a scholar of international reputation and a Tar Heel by birth, was visiting professor at a very prestigious Northern university a few years ago. In idle conversation with some colleagues, he happened to mention that his mother was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. His…
Clyde Wilson
June 4, 2015
Review Posts

The Truth About Jefferson Davis

This piece originally appeared in Southern Partisan magazine in 1983. Rosemont Plantation, the childhood home of Jefferson Davis, is nes­tled in the gently rolling hills of southwest Mississippi. Carefully restored, the Davis family home is shaded by moss-hung oaks and catalpa trees, surrounded by lush vegetation and warmed by newly-greened memories of the past. It is the last place on…
Robert McHugh
June 3, 2015
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Jefferson Davis and The Lame Lion of Lynchburg

This piece was originally published June 3, 2014 at the Abbeville Blog. Senator John Warwick Daniel (1842-1910) of Lynchburg, Virginia was a gentleman's gentleman. Daniel served in the U.S. Senate from 1887 until his death in 1910 and was known as "The Lame Lion of Lynchburg" after being severely wounded in the War for Southern Independence. He was shot through…
Brion McClanahan
June 1, 2015
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On Abraham Lincoln and the Inversion of American History

Originally published by the Unz Review on 15 April 2015. Back in 1990 in Richmond, Virginia, as part of the Museum of the Confederacy's lecture series, the late Professor Ludwell Johnson, author and  professor of history at William and Mary College, presented a fascinating lecture  titled, “The Lincoln Puzzle: Searching for the Real Honest Abe.” Commenting on the assassination of…
Boyd Cathey
April 17, 2015
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The Professor, the Prankster, and the President

James M. McPherson recently appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his latest book, Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief. Together, McPherson and Colbert more or less made a mockery of Davis – “great Confederate president or greatest Confederate president?” As the Good Book says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls…
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Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XIV

I have seen enough of publick men to come to the conclusion, that there are few, indeed, whose attachment to self is not stronger, than their patriotism and their friendship. --Calhoun We are children of the earth. We are not unlike the Titans, the earthborn giants of mythology, who were invincible in battle only as long as their feet were…
Clyde Wilson
February 25, 2015
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Jeff Davis’s Crown of Thorns

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus … stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on his head … and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! … And after that they had mocked him, they ……
Felicity Allen
July 24, 2014
Review Posts

Is Davis A Traitor?

The introduction to Mike Church's edited volume of Albert Taylor Bledsoe's masterful work, Is Davis A Traitor? or Was Secession a Constitutional Right Previous to the War of 1861? The Congress of the Confederate States of America adopted “Deo Vindice” (God Will Vindicate) as the official motto of the Confederacy in 1864. Less than a year later, Robert E. Lee…
Brion McClanahan
July 23, 2014
Review Posts

Ft. Sumter: The First Act of Aggression

Too often a narrative is passed from one person to the next until it becomes accepted as fact or “common knowledge.” In the society that we live in critical analysis is rarely applied, and so a notion that if scrutinized would be exposed as silly (or worse), instead becomes “fact.” Such is the case with the situation at Ft. Sumter…
Carl Jones
June 23, 2014
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You Should Have Seen It In Color

For any historian, seeing or hearing the past, holding it in your hand, is almost euphoric. We trudge around cemeteries, carefully handle old letters, documents, and newspapers while every word drips like nectar from the pages, visit historic houses and museums to “hear” the artifacts talk—to feel the past—and pour over old photographs and paintings to understand the humanity of…
Brion McClanahan
June 17, 2014
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“I cannot speak of my dead so soon.”

After his release from imprisonment in 1867, President Jefferson Davis journeyed to Canada where he met several Confederate leaders in exile at today’s Niagara-on-the-Lake, directly across the river from Old Fort Niagara. Available from the Niagara Historical Society is Nicholas Rescher’s excellent “Niagara-on-the-Lake as a Confederate Refuge.” After Mr. Davis became somewhat stronger he travelled to Niagara and Toronto, to…
Bernard Thuersam
June 11, 2014
Review Posts

The Doctrine of State’s Rights

This piece originally appeared in the North American Review, February 1890. To DO justice to the motives which actuated the soldiers of the Confederacy, it is needful that the cause for which they fought should be fairly understood; for no degree of skill, valor, and devotion can sanctify service in an unrighteous cause. We revere the memory of Washington, not…
Jefferson Davis
June 6, 2014
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Farewell

Delivered by Jefferson Davis on 21 January 1861 before leaving the United States Senate. I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under these circumstances, of course my…
Jefferson Davis
June 4, 2014
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Centennial Wars

Fifty years ago the master narrative of the Civil War Centennial failed to synchronize with the momentous 1960s Civil Rights movement. It minimized the roles of slavery and race. Instead the War was characterized as a unifying ordeal in which both sides fought heroically for their individual sense of “right” eventually becoming reconciled through mutual sacrifice. Slavery was considered only…
Philip Leigh
May 20, 2014
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Centennial Wars

Fifty years ago the master narrative of the Civil War Centennial failed to synchronize with the momentous 1960s Civil Rights movement. It minimized the roles of slavery and race. Instead the War was characterized as a unifying ordeal in which both sides fought heroically for their individual sense of “right” eventually becoming reconciled through mutual sacrifice. Slavery was considered only…
Philip Leigh
May 20, 2014
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Reconsidering Alexander H. Stephens

Limited by a popular and academic culture at the beginning of the 21st century that denigrates the past and places too much confidence in the present, the thoughtful student of Georgia politics and history should not be surprised that Alexander Stephens (February 11, 1812-March 4, 1883), Confederate Vice-President and American statesman, has often been neglected. One possible remedy to the…
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Jefferson Davis and the Kenner Mission

A few months back, I had a student ask me about Don Livingston's characterization of Jefferson Davis in a paper he presented to the Mises Institute in 1995 titled "The Secession Tradition in America." The student wondered if Livingston's statement, "Jefferson Davis was an enlightened slave holder who said that once the Confederacy gained its independence, it would mean the…
Brion McClanahan
April 14, 2014