Speech at Vicksburg
June 6, 1855
[Davis’] speech was mainly devoted to the most difficult of all undertakings: the defence of the present administration, and an effort to check the spirit which is spreading throughout the country and which, in our opinion, not only threatens to loosen and sever party bonds, but which now promises fairly to administer the Government in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution, to rebuke demagogueism in every shape, and to dispel the dark cloud of fanaticism which has, through the instrumentality of political abolitionists, gathered over our country. [. . .] Col. Davis, in his speech, did not use the words “defence of the administration.” He only addressed his old friends and neighbors in explanation of some of the acts of the administration since his connection with it. Among these acts, we will refer to his notice of the veto of the bill for the benefit of the Indigent Insane, the veto of the Internal Improvement bill, the course of the administration in relation to Cuban outrages, the efforts made in the way of effecting a purchase, the successful efforts made by the President to check fillibustering, and a rather extended reference to the causes leading to the appointment of Reeder, the Governor of Kansas, &c. These were the prominent acts of the administration to which he referred. [. . .] he, in saying that the President was right in vetoing the eleemosynary grant called for by the Indigent Insane bill, because such grants were anti Democratic and contrary to the spirit of our Government, paid but a poor compliment to the humane and benignant spirit of our institutions, or to the Democracy of many of the prominent men in the Senate and House who voted for it, among whom was the popular Senator from Mississippi, A. G. Brown. [. . .]
In reference to the appointment of Reeder, Col. Davis stated that it was not known to the administration when he was appointed that he was an abolitionist; he was regarded, from his speeches, as leaning the other side. He admitted, however, that it was now known that Reeder had fallen on the side of the abolitionist in the contest in Kansas.
He (Col. Davis,) has certainly been opposed to Reeder’s remaining in office, is opposed to it now, and thinks it probable he has been removed. He ought to have been removed the day after he was appointed. We have not time to speak of his reference to the new organization at present, farther than to say that he seemed to be a thorough “Know-Nothing” in relation to the strength, character or purposes of the association. He said he did not believe there could be in Mississippi any great number of the order.
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 5, pp. 107-109. Transcribed from the Vicksburg Weekly Whig, June 13, 1855.