Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/414

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408 Southern Historical Society Papers.

tributes also to this end the tone of high idealism which their great leader and President, Jefferson Davis, knew how to inspire.

After the Revolutionary war a certain Samuel Davis, who had fought bravely in it, settled in Kentucky. By a remarkable coinci- dence in the same year, 1782, also a certain Thomas Lincoln emi- grated from Virginia to this State. Jefferson, the son of the first- named, was born June 3, 1808, and February 12, 1809, Abraham, the son of Lincoln, was born both in the same State, as the ex- ceedingly interesting " Southern Historical Society Papers" have in- formed us. Samuel Davis happened to emigrate to the State of Mississ ippi. His son entered the Military Academy at West Point, and there graduated as lieutenant. Soon he was stationed on the frontier, where he had an opportunity to fight the Indians. Abraham Lin- coln settled in the State of Illinois, and fought as captain of a vol- unteer company in the same war in which Davis was engaged. The author of the brilliant oration from which we take the details of this article, John W. Daniel, makes in this connection the following not uninteresting remark. John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell had once engaged passage for America, and George Washington was about to become a midshipman in the British navy. Had not cir- cumstances changed these plans, Hampden and Cromwell might have become great names in American history. And suppose Admiral George Washington, under the colors of King George III, had been pursuing the Count D'Estaing, whose French fleet hemmed Cornwallis in at Yorktown who knows how the story of the great Revolution might have been written! Had Jefferson Davis gone to Illinois and Lincoln to Mississippi, what different histories would be around those names; and yet I fancy that the great struggle with which they were identified would have been changed only in inci- dents and not in its great currents.

In the year 1835 Lieutenant Davis resigned his commission, mar- ried Miss Taylor, of a distinguished family, and undertook the man- agement of his estates in Mississippi, devoting his time to politics and agriculture. Exactly the same preparation had the most noted statesmen of the South Washington and almost all his distinguished successors. They came, as did Jefferson Davis in 1843, from a Southern plantation, where they were at the head of a happy family and well-ordered house, in which the slaves were members of the household, and cultivated in these simple surroundings idealism, dig- nity, energy and the fundamental sciences, which they could turn to such advantage later.