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1865 May 20: Should Jefferson Davis Be Hanged?

May 21, 2015

The following are also from the May 20, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The “Should Jeff. Davis be Hung?” appeared in the May 27, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press, attributed to the Journal.

Items about J. D.

—  When Jeff Davis is hung, it should be in his petticoat, and he should be swung from a liberty pole, with the American flag flying above him.

— When the war broke out Mrs. Jeff Davis was anxions [sic] to go to Washington.  She can go now, if she chooses.  He husband has now the honor of an official invitation, and a strong escort to protect him.

Jeff Davis is very much indisposed at present, and it is believed is anxions [sic] to have someone “kiss him for his mother.”

— Jeff Davis has been believed to be personally a brave man.  His cowardly and ignominious conduct preceding his capture doubtless arose from the fact that

Conscience makes cowards of us all.”¹

— The most ridiculous farce ever enacted was when Mrs. Davis informed Col. Harding that his men had better not provoke Jeff. as he would hurt some of them.  He was dangerous, certainly—armed with a knife and entrenched in a petticoat.  No doubt our brave troopers were grateful to Mrs. D. for her solicitude for their safety.

— The much-vaunted Southern Chivalry never received such a crushing humiliation as in the conduct of Jeff Davis preceding his capture.  He was their chosen chief, an aristocrat by nature, all chivalry to the tip of his eyebrows, a great, brave, profound, mighty, terrible man—he was Chivalry’s purest blossom—its sweetest pink—its tallest persimmons,—and yet in the presence of personal peril he cowered like a cur, hid under a petticoat, and run like a common thief.  Great God !  What a spectacle for a gazing world.

Should Jeff Davis be hung?

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  He is a traitor—he stabbed at the life of the Government which had honored him, and which he had solemnly sworn to defend.

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  He has sought for and obtained the chief place among rebels, and is the legal representative of the rebellion which has studded the land with graves thicker than the sky is studded with stars.

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  Ask the cripple you meet on the street, whose leg has been carried away by a shot fired at his dictation.

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  Ask the mother, whose fair, brave sleeps in an unknown grave;—ask the wife, whose husband’s life went out in one great gush of blood, as the screaming shell went crashing through the living ranks.

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  Oh, my countrymen !  have we forgotten the cry of mortal anguish and despair, which rose from rebel prison-pens, and sobbed through the shuddering air !  Have we forgotten the “dead line”—the strong men starved into idiocy, and expiring in unspeakable pain !

Should Jeff Davis be hung ?  YES !  Let human law be vindicated, and thus with the maledictions of his country upon him, let him pass to the just judgments of an avenging God.

1.  From William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.

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