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 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2013 12:24 am
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Texas Defender
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Johan Steele-

  We are still some distance apart in how we view Jefferson Davis and his times. It is true that he was a politician and did what politicians do, then and now. For a time, he was uncertain whether he wanted to follow a military or political course. He chose the political, and even turned down a commission as BG in the US Army that was given to him by President Polk when Davis returned from Mexico.

  As for his postwar writings, I view them as an attempt to explain and justify the decisions that he made. He was convinced that he was right about secession and the superiority of the white race. His views on the latter were more typical than radical among 19th Century white males.

  As for his becoming colonel of the Mississippi regiment in the Mexican War, that happened because the first person offered the post turned it down. (A similar situation to that of Thomas J. Jackson who only got into West Point because a cadet appointed ahead of him quit). In the election for the colonelcy of the regiment, there were five candidates, including Mr. Davis. On the first ballot, the candidate who got the most votes was one Alexander B. Bradford. He could have taken the position but declined because he didn't get a majority of the votes. After Bradford withdrew, Mr. Davis won on the second ballot.

  I don't know what your definition of a : "War hero" is, but to me it is someone who performs well while under fire. Mr. Davis met this standard more than once. He also received a painful wound at Buena Vista, and had to be carried from the field by future CSA officer, Robert Hall Chilton.

  As Secretary of War, Mr. Davis again performed well. He saw the need for an expanded and improved military due to the demands required by the westward expansion. He also saw the need for a transcontinental railroad.

  As for Dr. Cooper, he made points with me in the preface of his biography of Mr. Davis. He wrote: "But my goal is to understand Jefferson Davis as a man of his time, and not condemn him for not being a man of my time." Too many people nowadays still want to judge 19th Century men by 21st Century standards.

  As for Mr. Davis being bitter after the war, I suspect that I would have been more so had I been in his place. He was completely dedicated to the cause of the CSA (No matter what people might think of it nowadays). He was disappointed when others were less dedicated. He was served badly by many in his government, both military and civilian.

  While he remained convinced that he had been right in what he did, after the war, he preached reconciliation of the sections and took pride in the material progress of the U.S. that was taking place near the end of his life. At the end of his book, Dr. Cooper writes a quote where Mr. Davis hopes: "that crimination and recrimination should forever cease, and then on the basis of fraternity and faithful regard for the rights of the States, there may be written on the arch of the Union: "Esto perpetua."" (Let it be perpetual).

Last edited on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 12:42 am by Texas Defender

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