Back in early June of this year an anniversary came and passed, almost unnoticed by most pundits and the media. June 3 was the two-hundred and sixth anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis.
Born in Kentucky in 1808, actually not far from the birthplace of his future nemesis, Abraham Lincoln, Davis in another time might have risen to become in his own right a celebrated president of the United States. As it was, it was his thankless duty to captain the forlorn Confederacy through four years of tragic and bloody war which saw the end not only of the society and culture he loved, but, in effect, the practical end of the old constitutional republic originally set up by the Founders.
From a good family and with advantages that augured well for future prominence, Davis at an early age demonstrated both leadership potential and intelligence.
Like many other well-bred Southern boys of the period, he received a superb classical education. In 1815 Davis entered the Catholic school of Saint Thomas at St. Rose Priory, a school operated by the Dominican Order in Washington County, Kentucky. At the time, he was the only Protestant student (he was an Episcopalian) at the school. He would carry a strong affection for the Catholic Church throughout his life. His famous correspondence with Pope Pius IX, an inveterate foe of liberalism in any form and who was pro-Confederate, is famous. After the war, while Davis was a prisoner in Fortress Monroe, Virginia, the Blessed Pius IX wove a cross of real thorns with his own hands and sent it to Davis (the Crown is now in the Confederate Museum in New Orleans). In their exchanges the pope always addressed Davis formally as a head of state, implicitly recognizing him and the Confederacy de jure.
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