Skip to main content

As a public health precaution, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14 until further notice. Please continue to check back frequently at npg.si.edu or si.edu for updates. In the meantime, please explore our website, resource materials and online exhibitions. 

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis
Artist
Unidentified Artist
Sitter
Jefferson Davis, 3 Jun 1808 - 6 Dec 1889
Date
c. 1856
Type
Photograph
Medium
Half-plate daguerreotype
Dimensions
Image: 11.6 x 8.8 cm (4 9/16 x 3 7/16")
Plate [sight]: 13.9 x 10.6 cm (5 1/2 x 4 3/16")
Case Open [with clasp extended]: 15.5 x 26.4 cm (6 1/8 x 10 3/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; partial gift of Dr. Roland A. Bill
Object number
NPG.77.260
Exhibition Label
Born Fairview, Kentucky
Destined to become the Confederacy’s only president, Jefferson Davis entered politics in 1845 when Mississippians elected him to Congress. After relinquishing his seat to fight in the Mexican American War, Davis resumed his public career with service in the U.S. Senate (1847–51; 1857–61) and as Franklin Pierce’s secretary of war (1853–57). A champion of southern rights and an outspoken protector of slavery, he nonetheless wished to avoid the breakup of the Union. Davis supported attempts to forestall secession after Lincoln’s election, but abandoned the effort when Mississippi seceded. He reluctantly accepted the Confederate presidency, having hoped for a command in the rebel army instead.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Usage