If you’re a trivia buff, then here’s one for you: ‘Who are the only two simultaneously sitting presidents in American history? Here’s a clue – they were both born in the same state less than a year apart and their birth places are only about 125 miles from each other.
On this day, November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican president of the United States.
On this day, November 6, 1861, Jefferson Finis Davis was elected to be the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. Until Lincoln’s death in April 1865, both he and Davis served as presidents here in America at the same time.
On June 3, 1808, Jefferson Davis was born in Fairview, Kentucky, about 75 miles east southeast of Paducah, Kentucky, 50 miles west of Bowling Green, Kentucky and only about 15 miles north of the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, only 55 miles south of Louisville and only 12 miles south of Elizabethtown.
Davis’s family moved to Mississippi when he was young. His family had a military history, with his father and uncles fighting in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. He had older brothers that fought in the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
Davis followed in the military tradition of his family and attended West Point at the request of President James Monroe. He graduated 23rd in his class in 1828 and went on to serve in the US Army from 1828 to 1835.
After leaving the military in 1835, Davis became a cotton farmer and also began to get involved in politics as a southern Democrat. He married the daughter of his former commanding officer Zachary Taylor.
In 1835, Davis was elected to the US House of Representatives from Mississippi.
In 1846, Davis resigned his seat in Congress and returned to the military at the rank of colonel. He then led the First Regiment of the Mississippi Riflemen in the Mexican-American War. Davis won nationwide acclaim when he led his unit to victory and then was wounded while staving off a charge of Mexican swords at the Battle of Buena Vista.
In 1847, Mississippi Governor Albert Brown appointed Davis to fill the US Senate seat from Mississippi vacated by the death of Sen. Jesse Speight.
IN 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed Davis to be his Secretary of War. He served in that post until 1857.
In 1857, Davis returned to the US Senate where he served until January 1861.
In February 1861, Davis was named as the Provincial President of the Confederacy.
On this day, November 6, 1861, Jefferson Finis Davis was officially elected to be the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. Until Lincoln’s death in April 1865, both he and Davis served as presidents here in America at the same time.
Abraham Lincoln’s family moved from Kentucky to Indiana. His father was a fairly poor farmer who barely learned his ABCs when Lincoln was a child. His mom died when he was only 9-year-old and his dad remarried. Lincoln grew up learning the meaning of hard work and became very adept at using an axe.
As a teenager, Abraham worked, but his father took most of his wages which caused a lifelong division between father and son. When his father, Thomas was dying in 1851, he sent word that he wanted to see his son Abraham but Abraham refused and would not even attend his father’s funeral.
In 1831, Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois. Instead of having the luxury of a military family history and contacts like Jefferson Davis had, Lincoln barely scraped by in his early years, working as a mill hand, store clerk, postmaster, surveyor and partnered in a general store that failed. He was also a voracious reader and basically self-educated himself and never had a formal college education like Davis did.
In 1832, Lincoln volunteered for the military but saw no action in the Black Hawk War.
Lincoln identified early on with the Whig Party and idolized Henry Clay.
In 1934, Lincoln was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where he served until 1842.
In 1847, Lincoln served in the US House of Representatives as a congressman from Illinois, but only served 1 term.
In March 1854, members of the Whig Party broke away over a number of issues including slavery. Meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin, they formed the Republican Party.
In 1856, Lincoln switch from the Whig Party to the Republican Party.
In 1858, Lincoln ran for the US Senate as a Republican but lost the election. During that campaign was the now famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. It was also during this campaign that Lincoln delivered his famous ‘House Divided’ speech.
In 1860, at the urging of many others in the Republican Party, Lincoln ran for President of the United States.
On this day, November 6, 1860, Lincoln surprised many and won the presidential election, causing many southern states to begin to withdraw, leading to the Civil War and the election of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy on this day, November 6, 1861.
Sources for the above includes: Abraham Lincoln Elected President; Jefferson Davis Elected Confederate President; Jefferson Davis Elected President of the Confederate States of America November 6, 1861; Abraham Lincoln: Campaigns and Elections; Jefferson Davis Biography; Jefferson Davis (1808–1889); Abraham Lincoln Address to 1858 Illinois State Republican Convention; Today, May 10, 1865: CSA President Jefferson Davis Captured; Today, March 20, 1854: The Republican Party was Established; Lincoln, Abraham; Pre-Presidential Political Timeline