Why Does Jefferson Davis have a Bowdoin Degree?
Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, later the president of the Confederacy, was Franklin Pierce’s closest advisor – serving as his Secretary of War. Many credit Davis’s counsel as the reason for Pierce’s consequential championing of Kansa-Nebraska.
Because of his friendship with Pierce, Bowdoin gave him an honorary degree during his visit to Maine in 1858. Naturally, the decision stirred controversy across New England among abolitionists. Bowdoin decided to award the same degree to William Pitt Fessenden. The two political opponents shared the stage at Bowdoin’s 1858 commencement.