Joseph Emory Davis

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Joseph Emory Davis
Born December 10, 1784
Wilkes County, Georgia
Died September 18, 1870(1870-09-18) (aged 85)
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Nationality United States of America
Known for Brother of Jefferson Davis

Joseph Emory Davis (10 December 1784 – 18 September 1870) was a United States (and Confederate States of America) lawyer and planter. He was the elder brother of C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis.


Joseph Emory Davis was born on December 10, 1784, near Augusta, Georgia. He was the oldest of the ten children of Samuel Davis and Jane Cook Davis. Samuel farmed in Georgia, but in 1793 the Davis family (by then consisting of the couple, four sons, and a daughter) set out for the newly formed state of Kentucky where the land was more promising. In Kentucky four more daughters were born, and lastly Jefferson in 1808.[1] Joseph was 23 years older than Jefferson.

Joseph was placed in a mercantile house at an early age. He studied law in Russellville and in Wilkinson County, whither he accompanied his father in 1811, was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practiced in Pinckneyville, and afterward in Greenville, rising to high rank in the profession. He was the delegate from Jefferson County in the convention that organized the state government in 1817, and took a prominent part in framing the constitution.

In 1820 he moved to Natchez, Mississippi, and formed a copartnership with Thomas B. Reed, then the leader of the Mississippi bar. In 1827 he decided to retire from law in order to become a planter. The same year he married Eliza Van Benthuysen.[2] As a planter he was also very successful, and at the beginning of the American Civil War he possessed one of the finest plantations on the Mississippi River, known as Hurricane Plantation. He also put together one of the best private libraries in the South.[2]

He was a slave owner, and one of his slaves was Ben Montgomery who was eventually put in charge of part of the operation of the plantation, which was unusual at the time. During the War, he was driven from his home with his family, and endured many hardships. He returned to Vicksburg at its close, and, after a controversy with the officers of the Freedmen's Bureau, regained possession of his estate, but continued to reside in the city of Vicksburg, in a house known as Anchuca. Davis was noted for his benevolence, and many youths of both sexes were indebted to him for a liberal education. He died in that city in 1870.


  1. ^ Strode 1955, pp. 5–7.
  2. ^ a b "Joseph Emory Davis". The Papers of Jefferson Davis. Retrieved 2013-08-08.