The Papers of Jefferson Davis
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

Photograph by Columbus W. Motes, c1886 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Insitution




Secretary of War and Senator (1853-61)

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

March 5
Arrives in Washington; meets with Franklin Pierce
March 7
Takes oath of office as secretary of war
June 1-15
Serves as acting secretary of the navy
Travels extensively in Northeast
Leads administration efforts in support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
June 13, 15 
Son Samuel Emory Davis dies; funeral at home
August 28-September 4/5
Travels with president; speaks in Virginia
October 31
Visits United States Military Academy
February 25
Daughter Margaret Howell Davis born
Visits Mississippi
January 6
Varina Davis confirmed at the Church of the Epiphany, Washington D.C.
January 16
Elected senator by Mississippi legislature
October [16-19]
Visits West Point
January 16
Son Jefferson Davis, Jr., born
March 4
Resigns as secretary of war; takes oath as senator
Visits Mississippi between sessions; speaks extensively
December 7
Congress convenes
February 11-May 9
Ill, at home
With family, spends summer in and around Portland, Maine
October 11
Speaks at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts
Visits Mississippi
December 6
Congress convenes
April 18
Son Joseph Evan Davis born in Washington while Davis is in Mississippi
May 7
Arrives in Washington
[late May-early June]
Undergoes eye surgery
Family vacations at Oakland, Maryland
Visits Mississippi
December 5
Arrives in Washington; Congress convenes
February 2
Introduces resolutions on the relations of the states
February 29
Speaks in Senate on slavery and secession
March 31
Undergoes eye surgery
April 10
Returns to Senate
May 7
Address to the National Democracy in light of the southern walk-out at the Democratic Convention
July 17-September 5
Chairs United States Military Academy commission meetings at West Point
Speaks throughout Mississippi
November 6
Abraham Lincoln elected
November 10
Upon learning of Lincoln's election, writes candid letter to Robert Barnwell Rhett, Jr., concerning secession
November 27
Arrives in Washington
December 3
Congress convenes
December 20
South Carolina secedes
January 5
Meets with southern senators
January 6
[Attends caucus of Mississippi delegation at Willard Hotel, Washington D.C.]
January 9 
Calls on President James Buchanan; speaks in Senate
January 10 
Delivers major speech in Senate
January 18 
Returns to Senate after illness
January 20
Writes Franklin Pierce about impending resignation
January 21
Delivers farewell address in Senate
January 22
Leaves Washington

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The Papers of Jefferson Davis
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