Jeff Davis

by Richard Brookhiser

As an anti-dote to Shelby Foote inspired Jefferson Davis nostalgia, I recommend the views of Theodore Roosevelt (letter to George McCleelan Harvey, Sept. 19, 1904)

In a public utterance of mine some eighteen and twenty years ago, I grouped together Jefferson Davis and Benedict Arnold. As a matter of pure morals I think I was right. Jefferson Davis was an unhung traitor. He did not, like Benedict Arnold, receive money for his treachery, but he received office instead. The difference is one of defree, not of kind. The two men stand on an evil eminence of infamy in our history. They occupy the two foremost positions in the small group of Americans which also numbers the names of Aaron Burr, of [James] Wilkinson, of [[John] Floyd.

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