Lincoln has become the saint of the American empire. The reverence he enjoys is based mostly on a fictional account of his life. One Southern humorist said that Lincoln had so many admirers when he was dead because he had none while he was living. It is true that most of the strongest people in his own cause despised him as inadequate. The world can never been certain that his own people did not eliminate him. His sainthood was to a considerable degree a product of his assassination and party propaganda after his death, in which he was shown being escorted to Heaven by flights of angels and compared to Jesus.
Jeff Davis made mistakes, but nobody ever doubted that he was totally dedicated to his cause and always did what he believed to be the best. His speeches and messages are eloquent, forthright, moving, and exactly in the style of the Founding Fathers—a republican, small ‘r’, leader speaking honestly to the citizens. He appeals to reason and the public good. Lincoln’s vaunted rhetoric is sentimentalised and phony. As H.L. Mencken said, the Gettysburg Address is a wonderful oration, but you have to remember that it opposite of the truth. Jeff Davis was the same man in private letters and conversation and in public speeches and papers. Lincoln was a master of being different things to different people.
When Jefferson Davis walked out of that courtroom in Richmond at last a free man after two years of torment, thousands of people, black and white, lined the streets with heads uncovered, in respectful silence. And so he remains in the heart of all true Southerners as the symbol of a righteous cause.