The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946 Page: 182
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
manuscript collections and twenty-six contemporary newspapers
and periodicals. The volume is well documented. Current text-
book statements that Jefferson Davis's secretaries of state "were
second-rate men" and that "the [Confederate] cabinet was
composed of mediocrities" will probably be eliminated when the
textbook writers catch up on their reading.
During the four-year life of the Confederacy, fourteen men
held the six places in the Confederate cabinet. Thirteen of these
administrators were lawyers; the other was a merchant.
Thirteen of the group had attended college, and nine had received
college degrees. All of the cabinet members had had experience
in state or national politics. Six had served in the United States
Senate; five had been members of the United States House of
Representatives; one had been speaker of the House; and one
had held the post of vice-president of the United States.
Professor Patrick is convinced that the Confederate cabinet
members were not "yes" men. President Davis, he thinks, en-
couraged independent thinking and wanted his counselors to
advise him frankly. The chief executive's "peculiar field" was
the War Department, and he kept a closer check on it than on
any other. Davis, however, exercised only a limited control over
this department, and in many matters he gave the secretary
considerable freedom. Professor Patrick says, "Davis wanted
an aggressive secretary .., and not a rubber stamp." The chief
executive's relationship to the other departments was one of
trust and dependence. He was inclined to defend his advisers
against public criticism. When interdepartmental disputes arose,
Davis usually relied on the opinions of the attorney general.
Confederate cabinet members were subjected to severe
criticism from their contemporaries. Newspaper editors were
liberal with their advice and sharp with their uncomplimentary
remarks. Much of the adverse criticism of the cabinet was really
an attack on the president, for Davis's opponents often used
this means of embarrassing the administration. Ten cabinet
members resigned their positions: three because of the opposition
of Congress, three because of personal ambition, and only one,
Secretary of War Randolph, because he resented Davis's inter-
ference with his department.
According to Dr. Patrick, Jefferson Davis was an able admin-
istrator who appointed men of ability to advise him. Whatever
might have been the real causes of the collapse of the Con-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946, periodical, 1946; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/m1/193/: accessed May 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.