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Jefferson Davis: An American President Previous Broadcasts

Episode #101

KQED World: Sun, Dec 11, 2011 -- 10:00 PM

Davis is perhaps the most misunderstood and maligned figure in United States history. One of the most outstanding statesmen of the United States during the first 60 years of the 19th century, he sacrificed everything to defend the South's position related to the rights of the states and conservative constitutional interpretation. Against staggering odds he led the South and held it together in the bloody Civil War or War Between the States. A West Point graduate was a hero of the Mexican War, United States Senator, outstanding Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce and the only President of the Confederate States of America. Among his many contributions to this country, he is responsible for the way the National Capitol looks today and is largely responsible for the Smithsonian Institution. From Jefferson Davis' Kentucky birthplace to his southwest Mississippi boyhood at Rosemont and his early schooling, we follow him to West Point, to stations in the remote west and to his first love and tragically short marriage to Sarah Knox Taylor. Having finally emerged from his deep grief, Davis forges a political path that leads him to Washington City as a Mississippi representative to Congress. He marries Varina Howell in Mississippi, enters the Mexican War and returns a hero. Jefferson Davis is appointed to the Senate; the Davis' revel in D.C. political and social life, have friends in both political camps, and Davis becomes one of the finest Secretaries of War as a part of the Pierce administration. Davis returns to the Senate for a second term and is instrumental in solidifying the Smithsonian Institution, in restoring the U.S. Capitol, and it is also in D.C. that his first of six children is born. In the late 1850s, with the stirrings of secession abounding, Davis holds fast to his beliefs and tries to keep the fledgling nation together. But at the end of a contentious and protracted fight, Davis must side with the south, with his home state...and after one of the most moving speeches in Senate history, Davis departs his beloved Washington City. ..forever.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Wed, Dec 14, 2011 -- 10:00 AM
  • KQED World: Wed, Dec 14, 2011 -- 7:00 AM
  • KQED World: Mon, Dec 12, 2011 -- 4:00 AM
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