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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

DAVIS, Jefferson

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Jefferson Davis

DAVIS, Jefferson. (Fairview, KY, June 3, 1808-New Orleans, IA, Dec. 6, 1889). President of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis, then a lieutenant in the United States Army, was ordered to direct the construction of a dam and lumber mill on the Yellow River near McGregor. The mill produced lumber used in the construction of Ft. Crawford at Prairie du Chein. (1)

In 1832 Davis, then a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was ordered to the LEAD mines of Dubuque to prevent whites from occupying land still belonging to Native Americans.

Davis again played a major role in Dubuque history when in 1852 as secretary of war he was convinced by Senator George Wallace JONES into making a third appropriation for work on the Dubuque ICE HARBOR. Jones considered Davis a friend since college. Jones communications with Davis led to Jones to be charged with treason and imprisoned. (2) In 1889, long after Jones had been welcomed back into Dubuque society, he was interviewed by writers of the New Orleans Times-Democrat about his memories of his old friend. The article was reprinted in the December 29, 1889 issue of the Dubuque Sunday Herald on p. 2.

Although he resigned from the United States Senate only after his home state of Mississippi seceded, Davis led the Confederacy with zeal. His refusal to concede defeat after Gettysburg was one reason he was indicted for treason and served two years in prison before being released in 1867. (3) Davis was led to prison by a guard of one hundred Union soldiers including George W. HEALEY of Dubuque. (4)



1. "Low Water Shows Dam," Telegraph Herald, November 25, 1956, p. 15

2. "Our Early Years," Telegraph Herald, February 22, 1976, p 49

3. Kaufmann, Bruce, "Jefferson Davis: The Man and the Myth," Telegraph Herald, December 4, 2011, p. 39

4. Oldt, Franklin. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, p. 662