200th birthday of Jeff Davis marked at birthplace of Confederacy

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

has authorized.

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,"

Hayes-Davis said.

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

Ron Sparks.

"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."