A full portrait of Jefferson Davis

Published 8:53 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

Mr. Williamson’s letter of Jan. 11, 2009, concerning Jefferson Davis was reverential and written with admiring deference. If the facts presented were the whole story, then I would agree that nothing should stand in the way of naming a street for him, providing the majority of citizens were so inclined.

It should be noted that many cities in the post-rebellion and post-reconstruction South did name streets, avenues and boulevards for their heroes of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis being only one of them.

Although never a hellfire secessionist, Davis did resign his senate seat when Mississippi withdrew from the Union, and four days later was appointed Major General of Mississippi troops. One month later he was appointed Provisional President of the Confederate States of America and in November of that same year was elected to a six-year term as president.

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In other words, Davis led the secessionist states in an opened and armed rebellion against the Union.

In U.S. law, the crime of levying war against the U.S. or giving aid and comfort to its enemies is called treason. Jefferson Davis was charged with treason for his role in the Southern rebellion but was never brought to trial because of technical dangers and other legal obstacles.

Other names associated with treason in U.S. history include Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, John Brown, Hans Max Haupt, Iva Ikuko Toguki D’Aquino (aka Tokyo Rose) and Alger Hiss. Jefferson Davis was let off the hook for the good of the country.

Men like John T. Morgan and Edmund Pettus served the CSA too, but they petitioned to have their full rights restored which allowed them to

participate in government and to eventually serve long distinguished careers representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Although elected to represent Mississippi in the post-war senate, Jefferson Davis never

petitioned for rights restoration and died unrepentant in his support for the Confederate cause and the heartrending legacy it left upon all of us.

When North Street in Selma was renamed for Jefferson Davis, a majority of citizens were probably in support of the name change due to sentiment

and the fact that federal troops were no longer camped here. That day is long gone, and the sentiments and realities of yesterday are not the sentiments and realities of today. The sentiment of today is one of bridging the gap, reconciliation, cooperation and inclusiveness. All of our energies should now be spent focusing on the future and community survival with economic and quality of life issues at the top of the list.

If a man can be fair-handed in the presentation of the facts then a man can be fair-minded in deciding on the name for a street.

Skip Phillips

Citizen, Ward 7