Today marks the 130th anniversary of the death of Jefferson Davis, only President of the Confederate States of America. He passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the Forsyth House, which was the home of Judge Charles E. Fenner. Judge Fenner had been a Confederate officer and was an Associate Justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court. He was a friend of the Davis Family.
In November 1889, Jefferson Davis had left his Biloxi home of Beauvoir to visit his plantation at Brierfield up the Mississippi River. While traveling, he fell ill and refused to send for a doctor while at Brierfield, instead waiting until he was returning to New Orleans. He was diagnosed with acute bronchitis that was complicated by malaria. When he returned to New Orleans, he was taken to the home of Judge Fenner, where he remained bedridden for two weeks prior to his death. Prior to his death, he seemed to have been doing better but took a sudden turn for the worse the day before he died. He died in the company of his wife Varina and a few of his friends.
Jefferson Davis' funeral was one of the largest in the South and the city of New Orleans was placed into morning as his body lay in state at the New Orleans City Hall. While lying in state, his casket, as well as other surfaces in the room, was draped with both a Confederate flag to represent his time as President of the Confederacy, but also draped with an American flag to emphasize his ties to the United States of America.
The Times-Democrat Reported:
At 12:45 o’clock this morning Hon. Jefferson Davis, ex-President of the Confederate States, passed away at the residence of Associate Justice Charles E. Fenner. Only once did he waver in his belief that his case showed no improvement, and that was at an early hour yesterday morning, when he playfully remarked to Mr. Payne: “I am afraid that I shall be compelled to agree with the doctors for once, and admit that I am a little better.” At 7 o’clock Mrs. Davis administered some medicine, but the ex-President declined to receive the whole dose. She urged upon his the necessity of taking the remainder, but putting it aside, with the gentlest of gestures whispered, “Pray, excuse me.” These were his last words.