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Reconstruction

Reconstruction

 Table of Contents

Jefferson Davis in Reconstruction

Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. After a distinguished career in national politics as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce, Davis served as a congressman and then as a Mississippi senator. After the South's defeat in the Civil War, he was stripped of his citizenship and took refuge in Europe, returning to the United States after a treason case against him was dropped. He died in New Orleans in 1889, and Congress posthumously reinstated his American citizenship in 1978.

In 1863, General Grant determined that the "Davis Bend" plantation in MIssissippi should become a "negro paradise." The entire area, once owned by Jefferson Davis and his brother, was set aside for the exclusive settlement of freed slaves who had to pay for their own rations, mules, and tools. Davis Bend became a remarkable model of what might have been in Reconstruction; the self-reliant laborers there earned $160,000 in profits in 1865 from their cotton crop. Many of Mississippi's black Reconstruction leaders came out of the plantation. After the war, Davis was imprisoned for two years in Fortress Monroe, Virginia, but never put on trial. He later served as president of a Memphis, Tennessee insurance company and then retired to an estate near Biloxi, Mississippi, which was provided to him by an admirer.

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