“If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone, ‘Died of a theory.’”
As divisive a figure then as he is now, history remembers Jefferson Davis as the ill-fated President of the Confederate States of America.
Like the Roman God Janus, he had two faces: considered cold, aloof, petty, obstinate and vindictive, he was also witty, intelligent, affectionate, impervious to fear and loyal to a fault.
Raised in Mississippi, at his brother’s behest he entered West Point and began the first of two Army careers; in the 1850s he would be named Secretary of War by Franklin Pierce.
A staunch defender of slavery, Davis was an unusual owner: he encouraged them to learn new skills, administer their own justice and provided them with a comfortable living.
Yet Davis did not fully comprehend human nature. To him his logic was irrefutable, and he was never able to see how his remarks, while not necessarily ill-meant, might cause offence.
However, his life was plagued by sickness and grief. In addition to his own health issues his first wife died tragically young, as did four of his six children with his second.
A complex portrait of a complex man, William C. Davis’ endeavour methodically explores the life of the leader of the Lost Cause and how the man was made.
Praise for Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour
“The fullest and best biography yet written, a work that will remain a standard authoritative account of the life of the Confederate President.” — David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review
“A dispassionate, well-researched, and skillful biography of a complex and controversial figure.” — Kirkus Reviews
William C. Davis is an American historian and former Professor of History who specialises in the Civil War and Southern States. A prolific writer, he has written or edited more than forty works on the subject and is four-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Award.