To mark the 200th anniversary of the
birth of Jefferson Davis, his great-great-grandson recreated his
swearing-in ceremony Friday and urged people to remember Davis as
more than the president of the Confederate States and a slave
"I stand here representing a family that is very proud of their
ancestor," said Bertram Hayes-Davis, president of the Davis Family
The recreation Friday was the first of several events planned
across the South this year to commemorate Davis' birth in Fairview,
Ky., on June 3, 1808.
Hayes-Davis, a banker from Colorado Springs, Colo., stood atop
the Capitol steps on the bronze star that marks where his
great-great-grandfather took the oath of office as president of the
Confederate States on Feb. 18, 1861.
Hayes-Davis placed his hand on the same Bible his
great-great-grandfather used. It was held by Leonidas Milton
Leathers III of Athens, Ga., whose great-great-grandfather, former
Georgia Gov. Howell Cobb, performed the same role for Davis.
At the end of the ceremony, women on the Capitol balcony dropped
red and white camellia blossoms on Leathers and Hayes-Davis.
Unlike the thousands who attended the original ceremony, about
125 showed up Friday to see the recreation and see a short preview
of an upcoming four-hour documentary about Davis that his family
Hayes-Davis said history books only mention his
great-great-grandfather as president of the Confederacy and a slave
"But let's not let political correctness take away all those
things we've chosen to ignore about Jefferson Davis," he said.
Davis was a West Point graduate who served the United States in
battle, as a congressman and senator from Mississippi and as U.S.
secretary of war, but Hayes-Davis said people only know about the
Confederate years from 1861-1865.
"Little do they know that for 53 years this man had prepared
himself for the role he was about to play. There was no other
person in the country that could probably have led this part of the
country through the next four years at the level that he did,"
The ceremony, organized by the Davis Family and the association
that cares for the First White House of the Confederacy in
Montgomery, attracted several public officials, including Alabama
Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright,
state Finance Director Jim Main, and state Agriculture Commissioner
"This is history," Sparks said.
In Alabama, the first Monday in June is an official state
holiday to mark Davis' birthday and a statue of him stands in front
of the Capitol.
For those who would like to push Alabama's Confederate history
into the background, Hayes-Davis said, "It's hard to forget
something that is actually historical fact. And then to actually
ignore the facts is even worse."
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