The “Other” President: 1861-1865

Q: Who was the American president during the Civil War years (1861-1865)?

A: Lincoln, right?


Oh, wait you mean there was another. Huh? I thought Lincoln was assassinated after the war ended.

You’re correct. But think…Confederacy, South, Montgomery, Richmond… Do you know the answer yet?

A: Jefferson Davis.

Jefferson Davis…who’s he? (That’s why I’m writing this blog post, which is a bonus post in our Presidents’ Month.)

Jefferson Davis was one of the few Americans who was president of a separate nation on former or future United States land. (We’ll talk about the other man next week).

Jefferson Davis (c. 1860) Public Domain

Jefferson Davis (c. 1860)
Public Domain

Jeff Davis was President of the Confederate States of America. Yes, he was on the side opposing Lincoln. No, he was not an evil man. I suppose I could write a book on Jeff Davis (maybe I will, someday), but not today. Today, I thought I’d share some basic information and my thoughts about Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.

Before The War Between The States

Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1807 or 1808; there’s a debate on which year is correct! He lived in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi in his youth. He attended West Point during 1824-1828, graduated 23rd in a class of 33, and played a minor role in the Black Hawk War.

Jeff fell in love with Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of General Zachary Taylor; Z. Taylor was later a U.S. President); Mr. Davis and Miss Taylor were married after he resigned from the army in 1835. Weeks later, Sarah Taylor Davis died of malaria or yellow fever, leaving a broken hearted husband, who retreated to his plantation and a life of solitude.

Five years later Jeff Davis entered politics with the Democratic party (note: at the time, the Democratic party was politically conservative). In 1845, he married Miss Varina Howell; their marriage would last 44 years, and they would have 6 children. During the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Jeff Davis served with the United States Army; after the war, he represented Mississippi in the House of Representatives, and, later, the Senate. He was secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce.

Reluctant President

“I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came.” ~ Jefferson Davis

When Mississippi – his home-state – seceded, Jefferson Davis made a farewell speech in the Senate, and, then, taking his family, returned to his home. He hoped to receive a military commission from the Confederate government and planned to wait at home until summoned.

Elsewhere, leaders of the new, loose-union of Southern states were looking for a leader: a president. Perhaps it is easily to appoint or nominate someone not present to reject the position. Perhaps his political leadership skills had impressed the assembled gentlemen. Perhaps none of them wanted the job of trying to bring order to a fledging nation. Whatever the reasoning, the out-come was decisive: Jefferson Davis was appointed President of the Confederacy.

When the message with the news arrived at the Davis home, Jeff was not excited. According to Mrs. Varina Davis, her husband appeared “so grieved that I feared some evil had befallen our family.” Though clearly concerned about the new position and disappointed to not have a military field command, Jefferson Davis accepted the appointment and went to serve the Southern states.

And so, the long four years began with the inaugural ceremony on February 18, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Troubles and thorns innumerable”

After his inauguration, Jefferson Davis wrote that despite the excitement of the people, he saw the future roads of his life and the Confederacy covered with “troubles and thorns innumerable.” Sadly, he was right.

A divisive vice-president and cabinet, military set-backs, argumentative generals, European powers unwilling to recognize the Confederacy, critical press, rioting citizens, currency inflation, limited supplies, cramped resources, family grief, poor health…troubles and thorns, indeed.

Still, Jefferson Davis never gave up his beliefs, his hope, his faith, or his courage.

Unfailing Courage

Despite all the troubles surrounding the Confederacy, President Davis’s courage never failed. He was always looking for the next plan, the next victory.

It would be wrong to not mention the support and encouragement he received from his wife and family. The Davis family remained at the White House in Richmond (the capital had been moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia, in 1861) for most of the war years. Mrs. Davis was an excellent hostess, acknowledged for her grace and kindness. The children usually had freedom to roam the executive mansion, peering in on important war councils and meetings.

In the end, the Confederate troops were out-numbered, Richmond was captured, and the president and his family were forced to flee. Always hopeful, Jefferson Davis planned to escape toward Mexico. Unfortunately, he was captured and forced to spend several years in prison, while government leaders of the United States awkwardly tried to decided what to do with the Confederate president.

Eventually, partly through the efforts of his wife, Jefferson Davis was released from prison. He was never brought to trial. Until his death in 1889, Jeff Davis endured harsh criticism for being “the other president.”

Jefferson Davis portrait, 1874 (Public Domain)

Jefferson Davis portrait, 1874 (Public Domain)

My Thoughts

Dear reader, I don’t know what your thoughts and feelings are about the South and the Confederacy during the War Between The States. But, I’m asking you to lay aside the politics, and remember a forgotten president.

No, he wasn’t a president of the United States. He was the President of the Confederate States of America.

He was an American, who believe in the principles of self-government and state’s rights. He was a leader who laid aside his personal preferences and served where he was most needed. That’s a legacy to remember…and it should inspire us!

Happy President’s Day, Jeff Davis!

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. I’d like to hear your thoughts… Did you know who “the other president” was?

Want more about the Davis Family? Leave a comment and let me know…then check here for information about The Confederate White House Living History.




February 2015: Holiday History & Craft

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft

Happy February! And welcome to our second Holiday History & Craft. (This article and craft is designed for younger children and is written accordingly).

Let’s read a little history and then play the “George Washington Card Game” and make “Lincoln’s Log Cabin (From Popsicle Sticks).”

This month we’re celebrating the Presidents of the United States. You can find lots of interesting books and pictures on the U.S. President page.

Did you know there’s an official Presidents’ Day? Why do we celebrate it? When did the holiday begin?


George Washington was the first president of the United States. He took office over 200 years ago (in 1789) and served for 8 years. He was a wise leader.

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president, and he led the nation during the American Civil War. Have you read his speech “The Gettysburg Address”?

In 1879 Congress (group of elected officials making our laws) voted to make a Federal Holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, which is on February 22.

However, in the 20th Century, the holiday was later changed to the 3rd Monday of February and, now we call it “Presidents’ Day”; the 3rd Monday often comes between Washington’s birthday (February 22) and Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12), so most people celebrate those two presidents.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

George Washington

George Washington









The holiday is supposed to honor all our American presidents.

Some states have different names for the holiday, including, “Washington’s Birthday” or “Washington and Lincoln Day”. In Virginia it’s official called “George Washington Day” and Alabama celebrates “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s Birthdays.”

If you want to learn more about Washington, Lincoln, or other American presidents, check out the booklist on the U.S. President page.

Game – George Washington Card Game (Washington)

George Washington was a talented and industrious man. He served in many roles and jobs other than president. Learn about George Washington’s life and roles with this card game.

First, print the following PDFs on card-stock.

*You will need to print 2 copies of each page…this is VERY important*

George Washington Cards 1

George Washington Cards 2

George Washington Cards 3

Cut out the cards on the dotted lines. You should have a total of 40 cards.

You can use the cards to play MEMORY GAME or “GO FISH” or any other favorite game  with matching cards.

Craft – Popsicle Stick Log Cabin (Lincoln)

Abraham Lincoln grew up in the American frontier. He lived in a log-cabin, worked with his father on the farm, and read books in every spare moment.

Let’s make a popsicle stick log-cabin! (Suggestion: first, ask your mom or dad if it’s okay – this might get a little messy and you might need their help)

*Warning: Scissors are sharp. Hot glue guns are…hot. Be careful*

What You’ll Need:

Approximately 90 Popsicle Sticks (sometimes called Craft Sticks) 

Wax Paper


Hot Glue Gun (optional)


Brown Paper

Pens, pencils, markers, or other drawing/writing devices

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft


Count out 70 popsicle sticks. You’ll use these for this part of the project. Lay two (2) sticks parallel to each other. Now lay two sticks on top of those first two to form a square. Glue in place. See photo.

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft


Continue stacking and gluing the sticks in place, alternating directions (think “Lincoln Logs”). Keep your walls straight and even. Use all 70 popsicle sticks.


Now, you have to make a choice. Flat roof or traditional roof. Either was used in the frontier log cabins.

For a Flat Roof, simply lay popsicle sticks across the opening and glue in place.

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft

Want to try the Traditional Roof. Heat up the glue gun, get an adult’s help, and BE CAREFUL!

Glue two (2) popsicle sticks upright on the outside of the walls. See picture.

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft

Next, glue a stick across to make a “cross beam.” See picture.


Glue one (1) extra popsicle stick flat and parallel; this will be help to get the correct angle for the roof. See picture.

Next, begin gluing the roof sticks in place, alternating sides and crossing at the top. See picture.

When roof is complete, remove any extra strands of glue. (No spider webs in your cabin!)

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft

To finish the cabins, cut a door and three windows out of paper and add their details with a pen or pencil. Glue the door and windows in place on the walls.

Your Lincoln Cabin is complete!

February 2015 Holiday History and Craft

I hope you enjoy the game and craft. Leave a comment if you like, and come back next month. (I’ll even give you a hint about our topic: Orange & Green).


Presidents’ Month!


Mount Rushmore, morning light

Introducing our February history topic here on Gazette665:

“Presidents of the United States”

Later this month, we’ll celebrate Presidents’ Day. Most of us know about George Washington (1st President) and Abraham Lincoln (16th President), but what about the other 42 men who have been in the executive office?

We won’t have time to study all of them, but I’ll share 4 of my favorite presidents on the Fridays of this month. Also, look for some bonus posts about Americans who were presidents of countries other than the USA…should be some interesting trivia.


On our Facebook page I’ll add extra photos, links to articles, and other cool stuff…so LIKE the Facebook page, if you haven’t already!

U.S. Presidents Resource Page

And finally…here it is: U.S. Presidents Resource Page. (My “Happy Presidents’ Month” gift to all of you.) I’ve compiled a booklist of biographies for all 44 United States Presidents, collected photos on a Pinterest Board, and searched for some of the best websites with additional information about our presidents.

One More Thing…

There’s one thing that would make my February even happier: leave some comments on the blog posts. Drop a line on the Facebook page, and let us know which president you’re reading about.

Hey, you could start right now! Leave a comment and tell us who is your favorite U.S. President and why.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. If you watched the Super Bowl, I hope y’all enjoyed it. Tonight I’m getting a head-start on blog stuff for the month and might begin some Valentine’s Day crafts! I’m not a huge football fan…and, folks, “I cannot tell a lie.”