Thursday, December 22, 2011


This might be a picture of Traveler.
If not, it probably at least looks sort of like him.
Jefferson Davis was a president, but he wasn't the president of the United States.  Instead, he was president of the Confederate States of America, which was a new country that the southern states made during the Civil War.

Mr. Davis was born in Kentucky in 1808.  He went to West Point and then fought in the Mexican-American War.  He got elected a Democratic Senator from Mississippi, and after that, he served as the U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce.  When he finished being in the Pierce administration, Mr. Davis went back to being a senator from Mississippi.  He thought that the South should not leave the Union, but he did believe that states had the right to do that if they chose to.

On February 9, 1861, after Senator Davis had resigned from the U.S. Senate, he was picked to be the provisional President of the C.S.A.  Then in November he was elected to a 6-year term as president.  And nobody even ran against him.  President Davis kept that office during the entire Civil War.

After the War, Mr. Davis went to a place called Beauvoir to do some writing.  Beauvoir was a home that was located near the coast, in Biloxi, Mississippi.  It was owned by a friend of the Davises, Mrs. Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey.  She had named her home "Beauvoir," which is French for "beautiful view."  Mr. Davis liked the house so much that he bought it from Mrs. Dorsey.

Mrs. Sarah Dorsey
When he began staying at Beauvoir, Mr. Davis met Traveler, a dog that he soon came to love very much.  Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey took a lot of trips abroad, because they were rich, and when they were in the Alps, they bought a mixed-breed puppy that had a Russian bulldog for a father.  The Russian bulldog seems to be a breed that isn't around anymore, so I couldn't find any pictures of Russian bulldogs.

Anyway, the Dorseys trained their puppy, Traveler, to be a bodyguard for Mrs. Dorsey.  One time when they were on a camping trip in the Arabian desert, Mr. Dorsey found out that one of his Arabian servants was stealing from him.  So he had the man punished.  After that, Mr. Dorsey went on a 2-day trip, and he left Mrs. Dorsey with an old Arab sheik to take care of her, and Traveler was there to guard her.  In the middle of the night, Mrs. Dorsey woke up when she heard a man scream.  It turned out that the thief who had been punished came back with a big knife to get his revenge by attacking Mrs. Dorsey.  But Traveler heard him and pinned him down.

Another time, when the Dorseys were in Paris, Mrs. Dorsey wore a bunch of expensive diamond jewelry to a party.  After the Dorseys got back to their hotel, Mr. Dorsey went out to smoke with some friends, and Mrs. Dorsey went to bed and fell asleep.  She woke up when she heard the sounds of a fight.  A thief had followed her back to the hotel to try to steal the expensive jewelry.  Traveler attacked him and bit him in the throat.  This man was one of the worst criminals in Paris.  He was sentenced to be hanged, but before that could happen, he died from his throat wound.

After Mrs. Dorsey died, Traveler became Mr. Davis's dog.  They hung out together all the time, and Traveler was a good guard dog for Mr. Davis, just like he had been for Mrs. Dorsey.  The doors and windows of Beauvoir never had to be locked because Traveler always made sure nobody got in unless they were allowed to.  When Mr. Davis wanted Traveler to know that it was okay for somebody to be there, he told the dog, "This is my friend," and let Traveler check the person out by giving them a good sniff.  After that, Traveler accepted the person and let them go wherever they wanted to on the property.

Even though Traveler could be fierce as a guard dog, he was very gentle with children.  He let them pull his hair, pound on him, and ride him like a pony.  He especially liked to play with Mrs. Davis's little niece.

Another thing that Traveler liked to do was chase fiddler crabs on the beach.  Whenever he managed to herd a bunch of them into the sea, he would bark and kick up sand to show how happy he was.  But if he was walking with Mr. Davis on the beach, he acted like a very serious body guard and did not chase the crabs.  He knew it was his job to keep his master safe, and if Mr. Davis got lost in thought and walked too close to the water, Traveler would steer him back up the beach a ways.

Jefferson Davis in 1885
One day Traveler got very sick, and Mr. Davis brought the best doctor in the area to try to make him well again.  But nothing the doctor did made Traveler feel better.  Mr. Davis and the doctor sat up all night with Traveler, and at daybreak, Traveler died with his head on his master's knee.  Mr. Davis was very sad, and he said, "I have indeed lost a friend."

Traveler was buried in a wooden coffin in the front yard of Beauvoir.  A stone was put on the grave to mark it, but later the stone disappeared.  Mr. Davis died in 1889.  For a number of years, members of the Davis family lived at Beauvoir, but finally it was turned into a presidential library.  During Hurricane Katrina, the house was badly damaged, but it has now been repaired and is open again.

I asked Mom if we could go to Mississippi to the beach so that I could chase the crabs.  Mom said that might be fun to do sometime, and I said "How about next week?"  Mom said she didn't think we could go that soon.  So who knows when we'll get there, if we ever do.


  1. Interesting story about Davis supposed affection for a dog.

    You might want to check out Davis capture in a dress. Oh, I know, I know, supposedly it was just a woman's shawl he put on by mistake. I know all that.

    The problem is, Varina wrote an 18 page letter to the Blairs, one of the most amazing letters of the Civil War. She never dreamed the Blairs would save the letter -- in fact, she wrote twice in the letter of her wish that Blairs destroy it.

    She described the three female gowns she put on Davis -- she said she "Pleaded with him" to put it on. And that she did it, so he would not be recognized.

    But there is more, she tells the Blairs that she called out "Its my mother" when they stopped Davis.

    Thats right MOTHER. Her sister also told the soldiers Davis was her mother. M O T H E R.

    The soldiers reported this -- one even said Mrs Davis and her sister tried to convince them Davis was her mother.

    SO when Varina's own letter say the same thing, it sure makes it credible that the Union soldiers were telling the truth.

    Davis, however, said he did not run at all. And that he had but one female wrap on, for a few seconds. Can't be so -- Varina talked about PLEADING with him to put it on. And then he put it on. The pleading, and then dressing in the three garments, would take at least 25 minutes.

    The way Davis explained it, he was in his tent, heard the shots, and then just stood there - no running.

    Everyone else said he was running like crazy. And Varina essentially admits he was in a dress.

    She calls the full body garment a "dressing GOWN" but the soldiers were very clear, it was a dress. Varina apparently could not outright admit it was a dress, but she did detail three different female garments.

    And of course, the "Its my mother" comment

    SHe ran to him, according to HER letter, in HER handwriting, and jumped between him and the soldier with a gun, that was, according to her, going to shoot Davis. But for the "interposition of my body" Davis would have been shot, she says.

    Why would she lie? Why would she make up the three female garments, why would she make up stuff about him running? And how would her letter validate the Union soldiers basic facts in their report?

    Plus, if her letter was not enough, and the soldiers reports were not enough, a CONFEDERATE SOLDIER who left the Davis party that day separately, wrote about the events of that day, and he admitted Davis ran away in woman's clothing.

    There has been a great deal of denial about this -- why? Because Davis ran from his CHLIDREN too. His children were in harms way, and screaming and crying, as bullets flew. Did Davis protect them? No. He ran. For his own safety, in a dress.

  2. WHen you study Davis from a different angle, he could well have been the "snake" Sam Houston said he was. Davis had dozens of people who hated him, in the Confederacy. General Johnston accused Davis -- correctly it turns out -- for taking the gold from the Confederate Treasury, 2 million dollars, some of it collected for medical supplies. General Johnston wanted Davis to explain why he took it, and what he did with it.

    1. Dear Seeker,
      Thank you for telling this very interesting story about Mr. Davis wearing a dress. It sounds like he really did hide himself that way, even if he said he didn't!