A Jefferson Davis statue was just torn down in New Orleans. Police officers were forced to push apart both supporters and opponents of the Confederate monument’s removal when they clashed during the sudden nighttime removal of the statue by masked men wearing protective helmets.
Chants of “Mitch for prison” rang out during the Jefferson Davis statue removal by protesters angry over New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s decision to tear down the monument, which has stood visibly in the Crescent City for generations.
“This morning we continue our march to reconciliation by removing the Jefferson Davis Confederate statue from its pedestal of reverence,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted.
— Chris Stewart (@CStewartWPTV) May 11, 2017
Protesters of the Confederate statue removal also shouted “President Davis” in unison while arguing with anti-monument demonstrators, yelling “take ’em down” when referencing all symbols of the Confederacy they deemed to embody white supremacy.
The workers tasked with removing the Jefferson Davis statue were cloaked in both protective helmets and facial masks for their safety due to the perceived possible repercussions over their involvement in removal of the Confederate monument, MSN reports. Even the name of the company hired to remove the statue was blacked out on the truck the men drove to the scene.
The Jefferson Davis statue was covered in bubble wrap before being attached to a crane and lifted from its perch in New Orleans. When the likeness of the Democrat who became the president of the Confederate States of America was swinging in the air, anti-monument protesters roared with delight late Wednesday evening.
Another step forward: the statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis has been taken down in New Orleans! pic.twitter.com/KQ8O4V2q0l
— Black To Live (@BlackToLive) May 11, 2017
Jefferson Davis was a Kentucky native. He was born in Christian County (now known as Fairview) on June 3, 1808, Biography reports. Davis was one of 10 children born into a proud military family. Ironically, he was born only 100 miles from where future President Abraham Lincoln came into the world just eight months earlier.
Both the father and uncles of Jefferson Davis fought to help create the United States during the Revolutionary War. All three of Davis’ older brothers fought and died during the War of 1812. The grandfather of the Confederate president was a public servant in the southern colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.
Although Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky, he spent the bulk of his childhood on a plantation in the Woodville, Mississippi, area. He returned to his native Kentucky as a teenager to attend a boarding school in Bardstown.
President James Monroe requested Jefferson Davis to enroll as a cadet at West Point in 1824 when the future leader of the confederacy was only 16-years-old. One of Davis’ West Point peers deemed him a leader “distinguished in his corps for manly bearing and high-toned and lofty character.” He graduated from West Point in 1828 and ranked 23rd in his class.
Before becoming a secessionist Jefferson Davis had a distinguished career in the United States Military. After graduating from West Point, he was awarded the rank of second lieutenant in the First Infantry. While serving at this post from 1828 to 1833, Jefferson Davis fought in the Blackhawk War of 1831. His regiment captured Chief Blackhawk, who was ultimately won over by Davis’ kind treatment after being placed under his supervision.
Jefferson Davis was promoted to first lieutenant in 1833 and transferred to a newly formed regiment known as the First Dragoons. For two years, the regiment fought against various Native American tribes, including the Pawnees and the Comanche. He fell in love amid the fighting and married the daughter of his commanding officer — Sarah Knox Taylor. She was the daughter of future American president Zachary Taylor.
Zachary Taylor was opposed to his daughter marrying Jefferson Davis, so the first lieutenant resigned his commission and began focusing a career in the civic and political realm. Sarah contracted malaria and died just a few months after becoming Mrs. Jefferson Davis.
Davis also served as Democrat United States representative, a senator, and the secretary of war during the Franklin Pierce administration. Davis resigned from Congress in 1847 so he could lead the First Regiment of the Mississippi Rifleman in the Mexican-American War. He rose to the rank of colonel under the direction of his former father-in-law. He fought in both the Battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista, leading his men to victory.
During the Battle of Buena Vista, Davis blocked a charge by sword-wielding Mexican soldiers and garnered nationwide acclaim after battlefield reports hit the newspapers. Impressed by Davis’ character and military skills, Zachary Taylor professed he had misjudged his daughter’s husband and added Sarah was the “better judge of man.” Taylor appointed Davis to the Senate seat vacated by Senator Jesse Speight’s death.
Jefferson Davis once addressed his prior fealty to the Union and how he once defended claims he was not devoted to its preservation.
“My devotion to the Union of our fathers had been so often and so publicly declared; I had on the floor of the Senate so defiantly challenged any question of my fidelity to it; my services, civil and military, had now extended through so long a period and were so generally known, that I felt quite assured that no whisperings of envy or ill-will could lead the people of Mississippi to believe that I had dishonored their trust by using the power they had conferred on me to destroy the government to which I was accredited. Then, as afterward, I regarded the separation of the states as a great, though not the greater evil.”
Jefferson Davis held the seat until 1851 when he decide to run to become the governor of Mississippi — a race he lost.
The Confederate president was captured by Union soldiers in Georgia in 1865. He was ultimately indicted for treason but was never tried on the charge, which could have carried the death penalty. Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe in Virginia until May 13, 1867. Abolitionist Horace Greeley paid a portion of the bail that freed Davis.
Jefferson Davis traveled the world as a businessman after being set free. He was offered a position as the president of Texas A&M University, but he turned down the job. Although Davis was elected to the Senate a third time, restrictions included in the 14th Amendment prevented him from serving.
Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government in 1881. The former Confederate president then retired and moved into the Beauvoir estate in Mississippi. He died on December 8, 1889, of acute bronchitis in New Orleans. The body of Jefferson Davis was temporarily interred at the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans but was later relocated to a memorial constructed in his honor at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
How do you feel about the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue and the continued presence of Confederate monuments in the United States of America?
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