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This Day in Georgia History

May 06, 1886

Jefferson Davis Spoke in Savannah

To view an image of Jefferson Davis on the Stone Mountain Memorial, see the Georgia Archives

Jefferson Davis was in Savannah for a 6-day visit. One of the main purposes of his visit was to take part in dedication of bronze plaques on the Nathanael Greene monument. Davis had accept the invitation because his father had served under Gen. Greene during the American Revolution. After the war, Greene was awarded a grant of land on the Savannah River upstream from Savannah. Here he built Mulberry Grove Plantation but died soon afterwards in 1786. Completed in 1830, the monument was a 50-foot obelisk without explanation of Greene’s contributions. To to mark the centennial of Greene’s death in 1886, the Georgia Historical Society had prepared two bronze plaques to be added to the monument - one showing Gen. Greene in bas relief - and Davis had been asked to attend the dedication of these plaques. In his remarks, Davis praised Gen. Greene but then went on to defend the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers. Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”