Davis had a long and illustrious career in politics before he ever became the Confederacy's President. Besides serving as a US Representative and US Senator, he also served as Secretary of War and ran for the Governorship of Mississippi. It's likely this beautiful campaign cockade was from his 1857 Senate race.
Mississippi, Davis's state, was the second state to secede on January 9, 1861. Davis formally withdrew from the United States Senate on January 21. A month later, Davis was selected to become the provisional President of the new Confederacy.
Of course, he still had to face the real election process under the new Confederate Constitution. But such was his stature that he ran unopposed and was elected unanimously for a six-year term.
This drawing from Harper's Weekly of a Confederate cockade (see a real one in the title graphic) show people's assessment of him: "The Right Man in the Right Place."
Opinions have varied over the years about Davis's abilities as a president - in fact, opinions varied while he was president too! But there was never any question of people's respect for Jefferson Davis as a person. This unidentified soldier, absolutely loaded with his favorite weapons, apparently wanted to make his sentiments clear. The slogan on the sign reads, "JEFF DAVIS AND THE SOUTH!" We can't see the emblem on the cockade in his hat, but it's doubtless just as patriotic as his slogan.
It wasn't just gentlemen who wore the president's image as a patriotic symbol. This gorgeous necklace made from dyed vegetable ivory was likely commissioned for a lady in 1865. The date is based on the fact that it not only includes photos of President Jefferson Davis and Vice President Alexander Stephens, but also Secretary of War John Breckinridge who took office in February 1865.
Besides jewelry and cockades, Jefferson Davis's picture appeared in other places too, such as money, stamps... and hankies!
This is a handkerchief design made in England. It shows Jefferson Davis in the center, and eight Confederate generals and statesmen around the edges. The floral design is images of southern agricultural products.
Blue cockades are often associated with secession, but red and white was a favorite color combination too (see my article on that here). This flashy red and white cockade features a small tintype image of Davis in the center - no one would wonder about your politics when you wore this cockade!
After the war, Davis continued his illustrious career - and continued to be honored among his people. Besides his presidency, historians tend to focus on little else besides his authorship of "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government." But Davis's post-war career was just as interesting. In addition to serving as president of a life insurance company, he was elected as US Senator again (though disbarred from office by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution) and turned down the first presidency of what would become Texas A&M.
Davis died in New Orleans in 1889 and was buried there. But in 1893, Mrs. Davis decided to have him reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia. Thousands paid their respects to his remains lying in state at the Virginia statehouse before the internment. This ribbon is a relic of that event.
The February 2, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly described Jefferson Davis as, 'A finished scholar, a high-minded gentleman, an easy, yet vigorous and effective speaker, a devoted father, a true friend. He is emphatically one of those "born to command," and is doubtless destined to occupy a high position either in the Southern Confederacy or in the United States.'
If you need a cockade honoring the president of either nation during the Civil War, I would be happy to supply you with one! I have both Davis and Lincoln cockades in my shop. Take a look at what I have ready-made or contact me for a custom order!