Jefferson Davis, Ardent Unionist
The author below points out that all of Jefferson Davis’ Congressional speeches featured a “strong and outspoken national feeling,” while New England politicians whipped up sectional animosity at every turn. This was seen as well in the war with Mexico as Davis spoke often of the national devotion and heroism of American soldiers in that conflict, though a prominent Northern politician bespoke for the American army, “a welcome with bloody hands to hospitable graves.” Massachusetts refused military honors to Captain George Lincoln, killed at Buena Vista and son of an ex-governor of that State.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Jefferson Davis, Ardent Unionist
“On the 29th of December , Mr. Davis spoke in a very earnest and impressive manner upon Native Americanism, which he strongly opposed . . . in opposition to [federal] appropriations for improvement of rivers and harbors; upon the Oregon question, and in favor of a resolution of thanks to General [Zachary] Taylor and his army.
On February 6, 1846, the House [of Representatives] . . . having under consideration the joint resolution of notice to the British Government concerning the abrogation of the Convention . . . respecting the territory of Oregon, [was addressed by Mr. Davis]:
“Sir, why has the south been assailed in this discussion? Has it been with the hope of sowing dissentions between us and our Western friends? Thus far, I think, it has failed. Why the frequent reference to the conduct of the South on the Texas question?
Sir, those who have made reflections on the South as having sustained Texas annexation from sectional views have been of those who opposed that great measure and are most eager for this. The suspicion is but natural in them.
But, sir, let me tell them that this doctrine of political balance between different portions of the Union is not Southern doctrine. We, sir, advocated the annexation of Texas from high national considerations. Nor sir, do we wish to divide the territory of Oregon; we would preserve it for the extension of our Union. It is, as the representative of a high-spirited and patriotic people, that I am called on to resist this war clamor.
[If war with Britain ensues] . . . Mississippi will come. And whether the question be one of Northern or Southern, of Eastern or Western aggression, we will not stop to count the cost, but act as becomes the descendants of those who, in the war of the Revolution, engaged in unequal strife to aid our brethren of the North in redressing their injuries . . .
With many of the officers now serving on the Rio Grande he had enjoyed a personal acquaintance, and hesitated not to say that all which skill, and courage, and patriotism could perform, [and] might be expected from them.
“Those soldiers, to whom so many [in New England] have applied depreciatory epithets, upon whom it has been so often said no reliance could be placed, they too will be found, in every emergency renewing such feats as have recently graced our arms, bearing the American flag to honorable triumphs, or falling beneath its folds, as devotees to our common cause, to die a soldier’s death.”
(The Life of Jefferson Davis, Frank H. Alfriend, National Publishing Co., 1868, excerpts, pp. 38-40; 45-46)