Jefferson Finis Davis' (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was a United States soldier and statesman, and was the President of the Confederate States of America during the entire Civil War which was fought from 1861 to 1865. He took personal charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to defeat the larger, more powerful and better organized Union. His diplomatic efforts failed to gain recognition from any foreign country. At home he paid little attention to the collapsing Confederate economy; the government printed more and more paper money to cover the war's expenses, leading to runaway inflation.
Davis was born in Kentucky and grew up on plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and fought in the Mexican–American War as the colonel of a volunteer regiment. He served as the United States Secretary of War under Democratic President Franklin Pierce, and as a Democratic U.S. senator from Mississippi. His plantation in Mississippi depended on slave labor, like many Southern plantations. As a senator, he argued against secession, but did agree that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union. Davis lost his first wife to malaria after three months of marriage, and the disease almost killed him as well. He had six children with his second wife, but only two survived him. He suffered from ill health for much of his life.