Jefferson Davis, Mathew B. Brady & Co., c. 1860

Southern Leaders

On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis took office as president of the Confederate States of America. Like Lincoln, Davis was born in Kentucky but he grew up in wealth and privilege. A West Point graduate, Davis served in the Black Hawk and Mexican wars; he also served as a U.S. representative, senator, and secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce. His vice president, Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, was a former Whig who had served with Lincoln in the U.S. House of Representatives.