Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce
Washington D.C. Jany. 20. 1861
My dear friend,
I have often and sadly turned my thoughts to you during the troublous
times through which we have been passing and now I come to the hard
task of announcing to you that the hour is at hand which closes my
connection with the United States, for the independence and Union of
which my Father bled and in the service of which I have sought to
emulate the example he set for my guidance. Mississippi not as a matter
of choice but of necessity has resolved to enter on the trial of
secession. Those who have driven her to this alternative threaten to
deprive her of the right to require that her government shall rest on
the consent of the governed, to substitute foreign force for domestic
support, to reduce a state to the condition from which the colony rose.
In the attempt to avoid the issue which had been joined by the country,
the present Administration has complicated and precipitated the
question. Even now if the duty "to preserve the public property" was
rationally regarded the probable collision at Charleston would be
avoided. Security far better than any which the federal troops can give
might be obtained in consideration of the little garrison of Fort Sumpter.
If the disavowal of any purpose to coerce So. Ca. be sincere the
possession of a work to command the harbor is worse than useless.
When Lincoln comes in he will have but to continue in the path of his
predecessor to inaugurate a a civil war and, leave a soi disant
democratic administration responsible for the fact. Genl. Cushing was here last week and when we parted it seemed like taking a last leave of a Brother.
I leave immediately for Missi. and know not what may devolve upon me
after my return. Civil war has only horror for me, but whatever
circumstances demand shall be met as a duty and I trust be so discharged
that you will not be ashamed of our former connection or cease to be my
I had hoped this summer to have had an opportunity to see you and
Mrs. Pierce and to have shown to you our children. Mrs. Davis was sorely
disappointed when we turned Southward without seeing you, I believe she
wrote to Mrs. Pierce in explanation of the circumstances which
prevented us from executing our cherished plan of a visit to you when we
should leave West Point.
Mrs. Davis joins me in kindest remembrance to Mrs. Pierce and the
expression of the hope that we may yet have you both at our country
home. Do me the favor to write to me often, address Hurricane P.O.
Warren County, Missi.
May God bless you is ever the prayer of your friend
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 7, pp. 17-18. Transcribed from the original in the Library of Congress, Franklin Pierce Papers, Series 3.