Who: Jefferson Finis Davis
What: First and only President of the Confederate States of America.
Where: Born Christian County, Kentucky; died New Orleans, Louisiana.
Why: Led the Confederacy during the Civil War.
When: Born June 3, 1808; died December 6, 1889.
“If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a theory.” – Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis was born, like his counterpart Abraham Lincoln, in a log cabin in Kentucky. His father, Samuel Davis, had served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and Jefferson was his tenth and last child. When Jefferson was 16, his father died, and his brother secured him a place at West Point. He graduated 23rd out of 33 in 1828, a year before Robert E Lee. He served in the Black Hawk War. His first wife Sarah, daughter of his commander and future President Zachary Taylor, died just a few months after they married; his second marriage lasted until his death. He resigned from the military and entered into politics, but then resigned from Congress to fight in the Mexican-American war, again under Taylor. He was elected to Senate in 1857, and although he did not advocate secession, he resigned when Mississippi did secede in January 1861. He was voted President by the Confederate Constitutional Convention on February 9, and tried in vain to prevent war. When he realised Lincoln was not going to let the South secede peacefully, he authorized the attack of Fort Sumter. He appointed many of his West Point colleagues to positions in the Confederate Army, including Robert E Lee. After Lee’s surrender, he attempted to fight on, but found little support and was captured on May 10, serving two years in squalid prison. He wrote two books about the Confederacy, before dying, aged 81, of bronchitis in New Orleans. His funeral was enormous, testament to the affection shown him by ex-Confederates, and he was interred in the old Confederate capital, Richmond.