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Kentucky's Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln

The Contested Legacy of Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America and  a Kentucky native, is the topic of a day-long symposium set for Friday, June 27, at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Davis’s birth.

Keynote speaker for “The Contested Legacy of Jefferson Davis” will be nationally known Civil War scholar and author William J. Cooper Jr., of Louisiana State University. Cooper is the author of Jefferson Davis, American (2000) as well as other works on slavery and the South, including The South and the Politics of Slavery, 1828-1856 (1978), Liberty and Slavery: Southern Politics to 1860 (1983), and (with Thomas E. Terrill) The American South: A History (1990).

The symposium is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a break for lunch. Events include two topical panels followed by a roundtable discussion.

Panel 1: Jefferson Davis and the Civil War

This panel discussion features established scholars highlighting recent work on Davis’s role in the war, Confederate military and diplomatic efforts, African Americans in the Confederacy and the Confederate army, and life in the South during the war. It includes panelists Cooper, Richard J. Blackett, of Vanderbilt University; and Charles P. Roland, author and retired professor emeritus of history at the University of Kentucky. Edward M. Coffman will serve as moderator.

Panel 2: Jefferson Davis and Lost Cause Memory

This discussion focuses on the actual and symbolic roles Davis and his family played in the emergence of the Lost Cause, both across the old Confederacy and in Kentucky. Panelists include Anne Marshall of Mississippi State University and John Coski, director of library and research at the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. James A. Ramage, Northern Kentucky University, will serve as moderator.

Roundtable Discussion

“The Contested Legacy of Jefferson Davis” will end with a group discussion on how to interpret Jefferson Davis era Confederate history accurately and sensitively at Kentucky’s historic sites.

Additional Jefferson Davis-Related Activities

“First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War”
Brown Bag History Program
Kentucky Historical Society
Held noon, Wednesday, June 4

Professor Joan Cashin discussed the extraordinary life of Mrs. Jefferson Davis (1826-1906), who said in private that the Confederacy did not have the resources to win the war; probably saved her husband's life at the capture in 1865; moved to New York City when she became a widow; and became friends with Mrs. Ulysses Grant while living in New York.

Jefferson Davis’ 200th Commemoration Held on June 7-8
Department of Parks
Jefferson Davis State Historic Site
Fairview, Ky.

The Jefferson Davis State Historic Site commemorated the 200th birthday of the Confederate president with an array of activities on Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8.

The annual event included living history camps, period demonstrations and vendors, special guest speakers, Davis family members, book signings, period music and many other educational events.

Born on this site on June 3, 1808, Davis served as a military and political leader not only during the Civil War, but also as a West Point graduate, Mexican War hero, Mississippi congressman and senator, and secretary of war during the Franklin Pierce administration.

The 351-foot monument to Davis constructed on this site marks Davis' birthplace and rests on a foundation of solid Kentucky limestone. The site’s visitor’s center features exhibits detailing Davis' political life before and after the Civil War, and offers Kentucky handicrafts, souvenirs, books and Civil War memorabilia.

The Jefferson Davis State Historic Site is located on Highway 68E in Fairview, about 10 miles east of Hopkinsville. Park facilities include two picnic shelters near restrooms and a playground. Call Park Manager Mark Doss at 270-889-6100 for more information. 


Registration Information

The deadline for registration is Friday, June 20, and seating is limited to the first 200 people. The registration fee includes lunch.

The cost is: $25 general public; $20 Kentucky Historical Society members; $10 students (photocopy of student ID must accompany registration form).

To register, please complete the Jefferson Davis Symposium Registration Form (PDF 125K) and return to:

Kentucky Historical Society
ATTN: Julia Curry
100 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601

Reservations may also be made by phone at 502-564-1792, ext. 4414 or by email at: Julia.Curry@ky.gov.


Last Updated 6/14/2008
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