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Jefferson Davis Essay

2104 words - 9 pages

Over a hundred years have passed since the Civil War, when Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate Stares of America, but even now opinions about this leader of the South differ remarkably. Those who admire him call him "the most misunderstood man in history." Others say his leadership lacked any real spark of greatness. Yet they all agree on one thing, Jefferson Davis himself had a very sad but interesting life. Born on June 3, 1808, he was the youngest and favorite son in a family of ten children, five boys and five girls. Clearly, his father had great hopes for him because he named him after the man who then occupied the White House, Thomas Jefferson. ...view middle of the document...

But Jeff's father seemed to ease his personal disappointment indirectly, becoming more and more occupied with grand plans for his golden-haired, blue-eyed youngest son. At the age of only seven, Jeff was taken by horseback through the wilderness to attend a highly regarded boarding school in Kentucky. He stayed there for two years, until his mother missed him so much that he was allowed to come home. At thirteen, Jeff once more left Mississippi, bound for Lexington, Kentucky. Here he enrolled at Transylvania University, where he learned Latin and Greek. Growing up to be an extremely young man, he also enjoyed the occasional dances in the homes of local families, to which some of the college students were invited. A year before Jeff was to have graduated, his father succeeded in arranging something even more impressive. In the spring of 1828, just as Jeff was turning sixteen, he received a letter telling him he had been accepted as a cadet by the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Young Davis, however, greatly preferred reading to playing any sort of game, so he did not long for the active life of a soldier. His father pointed out, however, that West Point offered a fine education at no cost. "Knowledge is power," old Mr. Davis assured him. Jeff would always feel relieved that he had made his father happy by accepting the West Point offer. Otherwise, he might have blamed himself for the old man's sudden sickness and death a few weeks later. From then on, it was Jeff's oldest brother Joseph who assumed the role of guiding and advising him. At West Point, Cadet Davis did not relish the strict routine of studying and marching from dawn till ten at night. He was two years younger than most of his classmates, and he ranked twenty-third of thirty-three when he graduated in 1828. More important, though, he had become well acquainted with several future generals, notably Cadet Robert E. Lee. Because Davis had been brought up to believe he was capable of accomplishing anything he set his mind to, he no doubt dreamed of becoming a general himself someday. Meanwhile, as a brand-new lieutenant, he was assigned to duty out West. He spent the next seven years in the territory that would later be carved into the states of Wisconsin and Iowa. There his days were filled with rough, mostly boring work like supervising the building of a new sawmill or the repairing of an old fort. Only rarely was the monotony interrupted by trouble with hostile Indians. In 1835, Davis decided to give up his Army career. The break was not easy because he had made some good friends and he liked the prestige of being a military officer. Still he felt he must try his luck elsewhere"”in order to marry the young woman he loved. Sarah Taylor was the daughter of his commanding officer, Colonel Zachary Taylor. The colonel knew how hard life was for the wives of army men, so he had...

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