Jefferson Davis served as the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, according to the Civil War Trust. Prior to that office, he made a name for himself as Mexican War hero, senator and U.S. Secretary of War. His reputation as a skilled administrator made him a choice compromise selection for president in the south.
Davis began his foray into public life when he became a delegate for the Mississippi Democratic party's state convention in 1840. His military history and success as a plantation owner won him the respect of his peers. After a couple of unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Congress, he won a House seat in 1845. Davis took on a pro-slavery, states' rights platform that bolstered his reputation within the Democratic Party.
Davis resigned from his seat in Congress a year later to fight in the Mexican War. His exemplary service in a regiment known as the Mississippi rifles added to his popularity, a fact that contributed to his senatorial appointment in 1847. Although he failed in his run for governor, his record was sufficiently strong to warrant an appointment to President Franklin Pierce's cabinet as Minister of War in 1853. There, he proved himself as an able administrator and military mind. When the Confederate Congress deliberated the selection of a provisional president in 1861, these qualities made Davis the first choice.