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Jefferson Davis' Career

Jefferson Davis' Career image Jefferson Davis' Career image
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Saturday was the birthday of Jefferson Davis, of this city. The following interesting account of his career appeared in the Detroit Evening News : Jefferson Davis, a hale and hearty old coiored mau of this city, will be seventy-five years old toruorrow. He will have special cause for rejoicing on that aimiversary, because by that time he wiii have received uearly a thousand dollars of back pay due hirn froru Uncle Saui for services reudered during the and will also begin to enjoy a pension of $13 a inouth, the first installmeut of whioh was due July 1. Jeiferson Davis is a eharacter and a rnau of niauy and varied experiences, He flrst saw the light of day down in ' " Old Keutuck, ' ' on the plautation of Jiidge Henry Davis, brother of the late president of the confederacy. Here he rolled aud tumbed through boyhood up to young manhood under as iudulgent a master as a slave could ever expect to have. He was a favorite body servant af ter he was big enough and remained always in the same f aniüy uutil after the death of Judge Davis. Theu he was sold to a man named Birch in the settling up of the estáte, but was bought back by an heir for 75 acres of land. The younger Davis rau into hard luck and found it necessary to mortgage Jefferson and two others of his slaves, and iu due oourse of time the mortgagee foreclosed. The Davis heirs learned that Jefferson was destined for Mississippi, and, to save hini from what they all regarded as a terrible f ate, assisted hini to rau away, taking him across the Ohio. Jeö'erson didn't stop running uutil he reached Michigan, flrst locatiug iu Marshall. He soon removed to Ann Arbor, which has been his home ever since. While the slave of Judge Davis, Jeff was hired out to Henry Clay aud to Torn Marshall, the latter gentleman being a great lawyer of that state, residing iu Lexington, and a warm personal friend of Heury Clay. Jeffei-son's relations with these men enabled hini to teil many a tale of fnn, fighting and hard drniking, which have uever found their way into biographies. He describes how the three slept together one night while on a huntiug excursión, ill in the same sluikedown bed ; and he also relates how he has cíivefully put the eminent statesman aud his only less eminent friend to bed when both of those geutlemeu were too overeóme with the favorite beverage of their state to be able to get through a doublé door without hittiug both sides. Davis drove Henry Clay across from Lexington 40 miles to the railroad station upon the last trip that great ruan ever made to Washington, and it is a foud memory of his that Clay shook his hand in a very co dial way at parting. Davis also knew Kentncky's other Clay. Cassins M. Clay liberated all his own slaves, but his wife owDed one with whom she refused to part, so they always had one in the faruily. Clay started the Lexington Free Press. One night a crowd of enemies broke intu the building, loaded all his printiug ïnaterials into wagons and started it for the Ohio rivei-. It was flve days' drive to Louisville and Jeff drove one of the wagons. They were overtaken at Louisville before any art of the loads had been destroyed, by a niessenger from the governor of the state, ordering the return of the stuff. So nest day they started back again, and Jeff assisted in the labor of returning the plant to its original position. Jeff was present at that savage encounter between C. M. Clay and Sam Brown at a public gathering near Lexington. Clay was raaking a stirring speech, he says, when Brown arose and shouted, "If yon daré to repeat that statement I'll shoot you. " Clay repeated and Brown shot, but Clay, it is related by Jeff, was wearing a "chest protector," and received no injury. He feil as though wounded, however, and when Brown worked his way upto him through the now struggliug mob, swearing, shooting and slashing, Clay suddenly arose and struek Brown with a bowie knife so ferociously in the face that he gouged out his eye and spliufcered the cheek boue, from which wouad Brown soon after died. Jeff was watching the combat from the top of the carriage seat where he was sitting as driver. It was a wild day. Horses, many hitched to carriages, ran wildly throngh the woods, women screamed and fainted, and men fought like tigers. Clay, thanks to his defensivo armor and personal courage, escaped unharmed. (Concluded on Page Eight.) Jeffeison Davis. , (Contlnued irora flrst page.) The war broke out a few years after Davis reaohed Michigan and in November, 1863, he enlisted, and was put on the duty of enlisting culored troops. He had been at work but a few weeks when his house, which stood where the Ann Arbor postoffice does now, burned np, destroying his papers. He was arrested next inorning by rnistake as a deserter and taken to Jacksou Here the niistake was corrected, and he was again supplied with proper credentials. But the mistake, while corrected iu fact, was left on the records, and prevented Davis froni drawing any pay for his services until now, when, afW "01 these yenrs, the :.iii i'i' bad i xtigh ünod üus. Returning froni arrest, Davis went to Cairo, 111. and to St. Louis, Mo., to en list colored men, and flnally secured 809 men, who were organized into the Oue Hundred and Second United States infantry, and served at Hiltou Head aud seven other important engagements, with credit to themselves. One exploit of Davis' is quit3 characteristic. He was sent to Toledo to arrest a oelebrated colored bounty-jurnper, named Young. Young had an ugly record, and had escaped froin captors several times. Davis located Youug asleep in a saloon, covered with fly netting, and handcuiïed him without stopping to remove the covering, so that Yonng was obliged to wear his screen through the streets to jail. At the jail the offlcers saw flt to remove the hand cuft's, but Davis feared sonie irregulai-ity and came in soon after. "They must (be put back on him,' said Davis. "You will have to do it youi'self, " said the officer in charge, and Davis, looking iu, saw his man armed with an iron bar. Davis remarked, "My orders v,rere to shoot hini if I could'nt bring him alive ; 111 shoot him through the door." The officer objected, so Davis got assistance from the provost marshal and handcuffed his man again. Next morning Davis put Young on a train for Detroit. He fastened his legs together with a strap, haudcuffed him to the arm of the seat, and tied his legs with another strap to the seat behind. Yonng had Sil, 400 on his person, which he offered Davis for his liberty. Davis ; had only fairly tied down his prisouer when a number of colored men entered the car aud demanded Youiig's release. ; Davís seized several sticks of stove wood i lying bandily in the woodbox aiid fluug them violently into the crowd, theu drawing his revolvers, threatened to shoot his prisoner first and all who should attempt his rescue afterwards. The car was cieared aud the train started. Davis aud Young had the car ! to theruselves and at Detroit a detail of j eleven men met the train. Young was shot the next day. Davis has importuned many congressruen from this district to aid him to get his record corrected. He cauuot read or write, bul has a most wonderful ! ïneinory for umnbers and can teil hovr mach money he speut in a given trip. how many times he hired horsrs at a given livery stable, aud other marters like that as well as though he had a memorandum. At last Rep. Gorman took up Davis' case, and through his efforts, Davis will receive his pay and pension. Since the war Davis hp.s visited Lexiugton and other places familiar to his youth. Amoug other thiugs he did there was to permit old Gov. Breckenridge, who was uuable to get out of his chair, to cane him lightly, ''Because you've been too fiee, aud high and niighty so loog it will do yon good. you rascal. " He fuuud his old ruaster of a few weeks, Birch, who had once beeu rich,and who had Been ruined iii health anrl pooket by the war, in very reduced ciroumstance.s,aud supplied his exhausted larder with enough to eat and drink to make his visit a notable one to the ex-oonfederate. Davis has beau three times married, nee in slavery and twice since. He ïad two children by his second wife ; he eldest boy dying at the age of twenty, and the second, a girl, married ind living in comfortable circunistancs n South Lyon. A grand daughter has developed considerable ability as an elocutionist, to her grandfather's great mde. The present Mrs. Davis has nauaged the household for flfteen years, and is considerably younger than her ïusband. Davis lives above a FTuron street store, opposite the court house and sits daily in au old chair on the sidewalk by ;he stairway leading to his rooms. He cuows and speaks to everyone, and many jeople like to spend a leisure moment istening to his reniinisences of the war and of the great men with whom he was once on so familiar a footing.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News