Jefferson Davis Highway — named for the Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War, and president of the Confederacy — will now be called Richmond Highway on the portion of the road that runs through Arlington County, Virginia.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board made the decision and Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring finalized the deal, according to Fox 5 News.
Delegate Mark Levine, a Democrat representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax, told Fox 5 News constituents told him several years ago that the name “upset” them.
“Levine approached Herring with a legal argument that would allow counties to change state highway names without approval by the General Assembly,” Fox 5 News reported.
”For my constituents, it’s a way to say Arlington today is not the Arlington of 100 years ago,” Levine said. “This is a county that welcomes people, that welcomes our diverse population.”
“It does not support the person who fought for slavery,” said Levine.
Inside NOVA reported that Democrat Governor Ralph Northam said in a letter of support for the move “while it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name of a major thoroughfare is not appropriate.”
While Jefferson, who was a Democrat, was the president of the Confederacy he was also a man who served in the military, in the House and Senate and as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce and helped shape early America, according to biography.com:
In 1824, President James Monroe appointed Davis to a cadetship at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. One of Davis’s fellow cadets later described the burgeoning young leader as “distinguished in his corps for manly bearing and high-toned and lofty character.” In 1828, Davis graduated from West Point, 23rd in his class.
Upon graduating from West Point, Jefferson Davis was assigned to the post of second-lieutenant of the First Infantry. From 1828 to 1833, he carried out his first active service with the U.S. Army. Davis fought with his regiment in the Blackhawk War of 1831, during which they captured Chief Blackhawk himself. The Indian chief was placed under Davis’s care, with Davis winning Blackhawk over through his kind treatment of the prisoner.
After leaving the military, Davis became a cotton farmer while preparing for a career in politics as a Democrat. In 1843, he participated in the gubernatorial campaign and served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention.
The biography notes that Davis was charged with treason for his role in the Confederacy but was never tried and his citizenship was posthumously restored.
“County officials say the U.S. Postal Service has told them it will continue to deliver ‘in perpetuity’ all mail using Jefferson Davis Highway as the address,” Inside NOVA reported.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter