Jefferson Davis: Death of American Patriot and Southern Hero
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
What will Historians say about the Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan ?
We should never forget the hateful treatment some people showed our brave Servicemen and women as they returned home from Vietnam in the 1970s. And, now, some people would malign the honorable name of the Confederate soldier and his ‘blood stained’ battle flag. Isn’t it about time we to speak-out for our American Veterans, living and dead, and to proclaim that disrespecting some Veterans is dishonoring all Veterans?
There was a time when Union and Confederate Veterans were honored by the American people and the world. Before the invention of radio and television, parents told their children stories about their American ancestors. The history of those men and women, who fought under the United States and Confederate flags, was also taught in public schools.
Saturday, December 6th, 2008, is the 119th anniversary of the death of Jefferson Davis.
In 2008, the mainstream media reported a renewed interest among the American people in the War Between the States as the 200th birthday of Jefferson Davis was celebrated. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, www.scv.org, proclaimed 2008 as the “Year of Davis.” And the Virginia Division SCV is also planning a dedication of a statue depicting Davis and two of his sons-Joseph and black adopted son Jim Limber.
The New York Times reported the death of Jefferson Davis:
New Orleans, December 8, 1889 – "A careful tally of the visitors shows that about 40,000 persons, mostly women and children, viewed the remains today. This crowd included, in solemn and respectful attendance, all conditions of Whites, Blacks, ex-Confederates, ex-Federals, and even Indians and Chinamen."
Davis’ death was also the lead story in Southern newspapers:
December 1889, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution – "The Great Chieftain passes over the river…and rests with Jackson under the shade of the trees. The hearts of a great and loving people, crushed by the death of a great leader. The Hero of hard-fought fields in Mexico . The peerless Statesman in Federal Councils. Jefferson Davis is no more!"
Who was Jefferson Davis?
Jefferson Davis graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, served valiantly during the War with Mexico , served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, served as United States Senator from Mississippi and was President of the Confederate States of America.
Jefferson Davis was a Christian father and husband. He and wife Varina were blessed with seven children who were; Margaret, Jeff Jr., Varina Anne, Bill, Joseph, Samuel and their adopted African-American son—Jim Limber.
The Christmas of 1889 was a sad time for the people of the South.
During November, 1889, Jefferson Davis left his home to attend to family business at Brierfield Plantation. On his way through New Orleans the weather turned colder and he was exposed to the rain and cold. He came down with a severe cold and bronchitis that was further complicated by Malaria.
Milo Cooper, a former servant of the Davis family, traveled a great distance to be by Davis ’ side. It has been written that when Copper entered Davis ’ sick room in New Orleans , he fell on his knees in tears and prayed God would spare the life of Jefferson Davis and bless his family.
Varina was by her husband’s side when Jefferson Davis died at a friend’s home on the morning of December 6, 1889.
All New Orleans’s newspapers led with praises and tributes that echoed throughout the South:
"Throughout the South there are lamentations and tears; in every country on the globe where there are lovers of liberty there is mourning; wherever there are men who admire heroic patriotism, dauntless resolution, fortitude, or intellectual power and supremacy, there is sincere sorrowing. The beloved of our land, the unfaltering upholder of constitutional liberty, the typical hero and sage, is no more; the fearless heart that beats with sympathy for all mankind is stilled forever, a great light is gone—Jefferson Davis is Dead!”
The mortal body of Jefferson Davis lay in state at the City Hall of New Orleans from midnight on December 6th to the 11th, 1889. The US and Confederate flags hung from the walls.
It is written that two hundred thousand people lined the streets of New Orleans when the funeral procession carried Davis ‘ body to Metairie Cemetery for temporary burial.
On December 13, 1889, the New York Times reported the Davis Funeral being the grandest ever seen in the South. The Sermon at Metairie Cemetery was delivered by Bishop Thompson of Mississippi. Bishop Gallaber delivered a brief sketch of Jefferson Davis’ life…And a Church Choir sang an old time favorite "Rock of Ages" to end the service.
Let’s Not Forget Our American Heroes!!