On this day in 1861, Jefferson Davis, a former U.S. senator from Mississippi who served as U.S. secretary of war in the 1850s, received word he has been selected president of the new Confederate States of America. Delegates at the Confederacy’s constitutional convention in Montgomery, Alabama chose him for the job.

Davis remained president of the Confederacy until its government was dissolved on May 5, 1865. Less than a week later, he was captured by the Union and jailed for two years. He died at age 81 in New Orleans in 1889.