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The Civil War
(1861-1865)

Jefferson Davis



Jefferson Davis
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    outcry, secession, seclusion, short-lived, hailed, regroup, advisors, wounded, bond, refused, grief, maintain, sympathetic, draft, favor, attempt
     content words:    Jefferson Davis, Civil War, Confederate States, Transylvania University, West Point Military Academy, Then Davis, Black Hawk, Sarah Knox Taylor, Varina Howell, Buena Vista


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Jefferson Davis
By Mary L. Bushong
  

1     What do you know about Jefferson Davis? You may not recognize his name unless you are a student of the Civil War. As the appointed President of the Confederate States, he led the South during the war, but it was not a position he wanted.
 
2     Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky on June 3, 1808. When he was three, his father moved the family to a plantation in Mississippi. As a young teenager, he began attending Transylvania University in Kentucky. When he was 16, he was appointed to West Point Military Academy as a cadet, and he graduated four years later. Then Davis was commissioned as a lieutenant and served during the Black Hawk war.
 
3     In 1835, he married Sarah Knox Taylor, the daughter of a future U.S. president. He resigned his commission, and they moved to Mississippi to carve out a plantation. Their happiness was short-lived. She died three months later from malaria. Davis was so grief stricken that he stayed in seclusion and worked on his plantation for seven years. As he worked on the plantation, he also studied Constitutional law.
 
4     Ten years after the death of his first wife, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and married his second wife, Varina Howell. Just a year later, Davis resigned from Congress to serve in the war with Mexico. He was hailed as a hero for winning the battle of Buena Vista. He was wounded and returned home. Once there, he was appointed to finish the Senate term of Senator Speight who had died.
 
5     Davis enjoyed being in the Senate and made a point of staying away from factions on both sides of the growing controversy over slavery. Even after being appointed Secretary of War in 1853, he continued to work tirelessly to smooth out differences between the North and South. As more time passed, however, it became obvious that trouble would soon come to a head.

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