As Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce, Jefferson Davis was considered perhaps the best who ever served at that position. He introduced a humanities program at the U.S. Military Academy, establishing for the first time an elites corps of officers and gentlemen.
He sent a study commission to the Crimean War, which put into effect new military tactics based on the knowledge he gained. He introduced the light infantry, the rifle, musket and Minnie Ball, and he won wide respect. His strengthening the military was an ironic mission, as a handful of years later his beloved Southland would secede and fight this very same military force that he had done so much to enhance.
He was chiefly instrumental in establishing the Smithsonian Institution; he instigated the federal civil service system; he began the movement to construct a canal across Panama, singling out the exact location where construction would be begun years later. He designed a cantilever bridge to span the Potomac River; he envisioned the need for transcontinental transportation, ordering surveys on three routes to the Pacific, corresponding afterwards with the three railway lines built with governmental assistance.
He was marked by his peers as Presidential timber, but God marked Jefferson Davis for another task, that of President of the Confederate States of America.