The Papers of Jefferson Davis
 
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

Margaret Davis Hayes and Varina Anne Davis, mid-1890s Beauvoir, Davis Home & Presidential Library

 

Chronology

 

Postwar Life and Career

Brackets indicate dates and entries that follow logically from information in primary sources but are not explicitly stated.

1867 
May 13
Appears in court before Judge John C. Underwood; bail set at $100,000; bond posted by Horace Greeley, abolitionist Gerrit Smith, a representative of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and ten Richmond businessmen; to "deafening applause," freed after two years of confinement; meets Greeley for the first time (for more information about the case, see Frequently Asked Questions)
mid-late May
With Varina, son William, and daughter Winnie, travels to New York City, then Montreal, where he is reunited with his daughter Margaret and son Jefferson, Jr.
May 30
Arrives in Niagara by way of Toronto for visit with many ex-Confederates living in the area, including Jubal A. Early and James M. Mason
early June
Returns to Montreal
September 23
Moves to Lennoxville, Quebec, about eighty-five miles east-southeast of Montreal
November 19 or 20
Sails from Canada aboard the steamer Albemarle
November 22
Reaches Richmond in the morning; stays with Robert Ould
November 25
Visits with Robert E. Lee for the first time since March 1865 (Lee wrote his wife on the 26th that Davis "looks astonishingly well and is quite cheerful")
November 26
The United States v. Jefferson Davis convenes in Richmond; with Chase unable to be present, government granted postponement to March; Davis released on his own recognizance (his last appearance in court on this matter); long talk with Lee at the courthouse (last time he would see Lee); new grand jury drawn (Lee would testify before it the next day); (for more information, see Frequently Asked Questions); in the evening, receives news of the death of Margaret K. Howell, Varina's mother (Nov. 24)
November-December
Stays with Isaac Trimble near Baltimore; Varina Davis joins him there
December 19
Sails from Baltimore for New Orleans, with stops in Key West and Havana, Cuba
1868
January 22
Arrives in Vicksburg after visiting New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Woodville; reunited with brother Joseph E. Davis for the first time since 1862
February 25
Leaves Vicksburg for New Orleans, planning to be in Richmond by mid-March for trial
March 11
Sails for Baltimore by way of Havana and Key West; receives word before departure that trial will be delayed until May or June
March 23
Reaches Baltimore; leaves the next day for New York
March 25
Arrives in New York
March 26
With Davis not present, more complete indictment, based on testimony of Lee and others, handed down in Richmond; trial delayed until May (subsequently continued to June, October, then November)
March 27
After learning of trial delay until at least May 4, leaves New York for Canada; arrives in Lennoxville the following evening; sees notice of new indictment in newspaper soon after arrival
March-July
Spends most of his time in Lennoxville, where Jeff , Jr., and Billy are attending Bishop's College Grammar School, and Montreal, where Margaret is enrolled in a convent school
late April
Leaves Lennoxville on his way to Richmond for trial; word reaches him in Montreal that trial has been postponed
late May
Learns that he will not have to be in court until October at the earliest
June 25
Breaks two ribs in fall down stairway at the British-American Hotel in Lennoxville
July 23
Travels from Lennoxville to Quebec
July 25
With family, sails from Quebec for Europe
August 4
Arrives in Liverpool; spends rest of the year touring England and Wales
September 6
Reaches London for the first time
November 22
Attends service at Westminster Abbey
November 30
Motion is brought in Richmond by Davis' attorneys asking the government to show cause why the indictment of Davis should not be quashed
December 3-4
With Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase and U.S. Circuit Court Judge John C. Underwood presiding, arguments are presented on the motion
December 5
Chase and Underwood announce that they cannot agree on whether the indictment should be quashed; Chase gives his opinion that the 14th Amendment exempts Davis from further punishment; no subsequent action is taken in the case (for more information, see Frequently Asked Questions)
December 30
Leaves London for Paris
December 31
Arrives in Paris
 
1869
January 2
Visits the Louvre
January 14
Leaves Paris for London
January-September
In Great Britain; makes extended visit to Scotland in July-August
February 15
Indictment dismissed (nolle prosequi), as are those against thirty-seven other Confederates (for more information, see Frequently Asked Questions)
September 25
After receiving offer of a position with an insurance company, sails from Southampton for Baltimore to explore that and other business opportunities
October 10
Reaches Baltimore
October 11
Meets with representative of Carolina Life Insurance Company; also pursues a position with Southern Pacific Railroad
October 15
Sails from Baltimore for New Orleans; friends try to convince him to settle in New Orleans, but make no firm job offers
November 8
Arrives in Vicksburg after visiting family in Louisiana and Mississippi; travels to Memphis, Tennessee, the next day
November 23
Elected president of Carolina Life Insurance Company at a salary of $12,000 a year; plans to move the home office to Baltimore
 
1870
July [20]
Leaves Memphis for Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on the first leg of a trip to Europe
July [25]
Departs for Richmond
early August
Makes brief visit to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
August 9
Arrives in New York after making a business stop in Baltimore
August 10
Sails from New York for Liverpool
September 24
Reunited with family in London after a stay in Liverpool and visits to Ireland and Scotland; while in England, learns of the death of brother Joseph E. Davis (Sept. 18)
October 8
Sails with family for Baltimore; learns of Robert E. Lee's death (Oct. 12) upon arrival; family remains at Baltimore while Davis travels to Richmond
November 3
Speaks at organizational meeting for the Lee Monument Association in Richmond
mid-November
Reaches Memphis; Varina and Winnie Davis follow a month later; older children in school in Maryland
1871
May 1
With Varina and Winnie Davis, departs for Baltimore
mid-May
Returns to Memphis via North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; speaks in Augusta and Atlanta; family remains in Maryland
July 13
Arrives in Baltimore for brief visit; back in Memphis by the 21st
August 4
Leaves Memphis for Baltimore
early September
Visits Lexington, Virginia, and White Sulphur Springs, then returns to Baltimore
mid-October
Goes back to Memphis, leaving family in Baltimore
late November
Family joins him in Memphis
 
1872
September 17
Arrives in Baltimore, by way of Louisville
October 13
Travels from Baltimore to Richmond, planning to go from there to Memphis
October 16
Son William Howell Davis dies of diphtheria at age ten 
 
1873
late May
Varina and Winnie Davis travel to Canada (for Varina's health)
late June
Departs on extended business trip for struggling company; travels to St. Louis, New York, Baltimore, and Richmond, stopping in Louisville on the way back
July 22
Returns to Memphis
August
Journeys to Richmond on business; visits older children, who are staying with William Preston Johnston in Lexington, Virginia; back in Memphis by the 23d
August 25
Resigns as president of Carolina Life Insurance Company
October
Ill in Louisville; spends most of month there
November
Visits Baltimore for two weeks at the beginning of the month, then goes back to Memphis
December
Varina Davis returns from Canada
 
1874
January [25]
Without family, sails from New Orleans for Liverpool
February 15
Arrives in Liverpool; spends over a month looking for positions with British companies
March 22
Reaches Paris, where he stays with A. Dudley Mann
April 16
Has returned to London
April-May
Visits Scotland and Karlsruhe, Germany
June 4
Sails from Liverpool for New York; back in Memphis before the end of the month
July 3
Files suit to regain control of Brierfield from the heirs of Joseph E. Davis (Jefferson Davis v. J. H. D. Bowmar et al.)
1875
Declines appointment as senator from Mississippi and presidency of what is now Texas A&M University; begins relationship with Mississippi Valley Association (a British firm seeking to promote emigration to the South and to encourage direct trade between New Orleans and European ports), and starts promoting it in his travels; speaks in Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri; makes numerous visits to Vicksburg because of lawsuit; reaches informal agreement with W. T. Walthall to begin marketing proposal for Davis' memoirs; withdraws Jeff, Jr., from Virginia Military Institute, and in fall travels with him to inspect mines in Colorado
 
1876
January 1
Daughter Margaret marries  Joel Addison Hayes at St. Lazarus Episcopal Church in Memphis (she will be the only one of the Davis offspring to marry and to have children)
late January
Chosen president of the American branch of the Mississippi Valley Association; relocates to New Orleans, where he is soon joined by Varina and Winnie Davis
May 23
Sails for London via Liverpool on an extended business trip; Varina and Winnie Davis travel with him, while Jeff, Jr., stays with Margaret and Addison in Memphis; Winnie enrolled in school at Karlsruhe, Germany
mid-November
With Varina ill in London and Winnie at school, sails for the U.S. by himself; in Memphis by December 1
December
Meets with board of Mississippi Valley Association in New Orleans and gives up position
December 14
Signs contract with D. Appleton & Co. for memoirs
 
1877
January
After looking for a place to live along the Gulf Coast, rents a cottage from Sarah Ellis Dorsey at Beauvoir, near Biloxi, Mississippi; starts collecting information for memoirs
mid-February
Begins dictating memoirs to Sarah Dorsey
mid-October
Varina Davis leaves London and sails for New York
November
Varina Davis decides to reside with Margaret and Addison in Memphis
 
1878
May
Varina Davis moves to Beauvoir
May 20 
Courts render final judgment in Davis v. Bowmar that Brierfield is his property
July 1
Agreed-upon deadline for completion of memoirs; Walthall convinces publisher to extend deadline
October 16
Son Jefferson Davis, Jr., dies in Memphis in yellow fever epidemic at age twenty-one 
 
1879
February 19
Signs deed to buy Beauvoir from Sarah Dorsey for $5,500
June 4
Leaves Montreal for New Orleans
July 4
At bedside when Sarah Dorsey dies in New Orleans; she leaves Beauvoir to him in her will
 
1880
May 5
Appleton's receives manuscript for the first volume of The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
 
1881
April
Finishes dictating second volume of memoirs
mid-May
Travels by train to Montreal
June 3
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
published on his birthday (because of the terms of his contract and relatively slow sales, it is unlikely that Davis made much, if any, money from the book
August-November
Travels to Europe with Varina Davis to bring Winnie back from school at Karlsruhe, Germany
November 22
Sails from Liverpool for New York; back at Beauvoir by mid-December
1882-88
Lives at Beauvoir with Varina; travels occasionally and speaks across the South; enjoys time with grandchildren, although Margaret and Addison Hayes move to Colorado Springs in 1885; gives many interviews, covering both Civil War topics and the current political situation; agrees in 1888 to begin work on another book
 
1889
October
Completes manuscript of A Short History of the Confederate States of America (published in 1890); also writes several brief magazine articles during the year (see Jefferson Davis Bibliography)

How to Reach Us

The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Rice University--MS 43
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, Texas 77251-1892
Phone: (713) 348-4990
Fax: (713) 348-4383
E-mail: davis@rice.edu