The South was overwhelmed by the might of the North after four long, bloody years, and at the close of the war, Jefferson Davis was indicted for treason. A gentleman named Dr. Hart wrote that Chief Justice Chase, who presided at the trial, “had no heart in the prosecution”. The charge was dropped. Justice Chase knew that the South in seceding had done no more than the New England states had over and over threatened to do.
A despicable attempt was made to involve Mr. Davis in the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. Likewise his enemies tried to tarnish his name with insinuations that he was responsible for the suffering of Northern soldiers in Southern prisons. Both these efforts were abandoned as they were not factual in the least.
His attitude toward slavery was denounced, but examine the facts. First, Lincoln, in his inaugural address said that he had no intention of interfering with slavery in states where it existed; next, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, it made no pretense of freeing slaves anywhere but in the Confederate states; and third, that New England had been the chief offender in the trade in slaves.
Davis was charged with involving the nation in war by the order to fire on Fort Sumter. But informed people know of the earnest effort of Confederate Commissioners to avert hostilities, and of the astounding duplicity and treachery of Mr. Lincoln’s Secretary of State, an occasion of embarrassment to the biographers of Lincoln.
Enshrined in the heart of the South is the memory of Jefferson Davis. Henry Grady introduced him three years before he died with the words: “Let us declare that this outcast from the privileges of this great government is the uncrowned King of our people, and that no Southern man, high or humble, asks a greater glory than to bear with him, heart to heart, the blame and the burden of the cause for which he stands unpardoned.”