Civil War and Reconstruction
Jefferson Davis, Farewell Speech to the United States Congress
About This Text
Author: Jefferson Davis
Composed: 1861 CE
Jefferson Davis, who would soon become the president of the Confederacy, announces Mississippi’s intent to secede the Union and his own intent to depart the Senate. Davis’s speech was highly anticipated, as he was widely considered the leader of the Southern Senators. Davis was recovering from an illness at the time and was still suffering facial neuralgia. The speech begins with an argument about why secession was a justified and legal recourse for the Southern states. Davis urges the United States government to halt all attempts to execute federal law in the seceding states and warns that those states will resist if they feel threatened. Davis contends the interpretation of the Declaration of Independence championed by Lincoln was inaccurate and that the statement “all men are created equal” was intended to apply only to whites.