Jefferson Davis Highway (JDH) Plaque, Horton Plaza Park, San Diego

Jefferson Davis Highway marker
Horton Plaza Park, marker location
US80 Historic Map - from 'Parsa's American Roads'

Dublin Core


Jefferson Davis Highway (JDH) Plaque, Horton Plaza Park, San Diego


Jefferson Davis Highway (JDH), named after the Confederacy’s first and only president from 1861-1865, was once meant to be a coast-to-coast highway from Arlington, Virginia to San Diego, California. Construction began in 1913 and was funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). It was never completed so sections remained along with their old highway markers [1].

Competition: Lincoln Highway

The JDH was never completed after it failed to compete with the previously constructed 1913 coast-to-coast, New York to San Francisco, Lincoln Highway dedicated to the Union by “the wealthy auto enthusiast Carl G. Fisher and a group of industry boosters and wealthy philanthropists like Thomas Edison and Theodore Roosevelt” [1]. Since JDH was constructed initially to compete with the Union-supported Lincoln Highway, it linked together many places in support or friendly with the Confederate Lost Cause. 

Remains & Those Renamed

At least 250 JDH markers were renamed in the 1920s to the new federal government-imposed numbering system [2]. The highway portions became today’s US 1, US 15, US 29, US 80, US 90, US 99, and US 190. However, many - like San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park - kept their JDH markers alongside their new number markers. Originally a large obelisk located ironically across from the Ulysses S. Grant Hotel, the San Diego JDH obelisk marker was removed the same year (1926) of its placement due to strong opposition. A plaque was installed in place of the obelisk by the UDC California Division on May 12, 1926, and later restored in 1956 [3][4]. In the 1980s, during the construction of Horton Plaza, it was re-embedded in the new sidewalk after being removed from the previous sidewalk. 


“First Pacific Terminal, Jefferson Davis Highway. Presented to City of San Diego May 12, 1926, by California Division United Daughters of the Confederacy. Replaced May 12, 1956” [3].


The San Diego JDH plaque was removed after protests to the San Diego City Council. It was removed by the city on August 16, 2017, at 8:30 am, and the city plans on returning the plaque to its original benefactors, the UDC [5]. 

As of November 8th, 2021, fifteen local military leaders will make up the Military, Veteran and Families Advisory Council to help advise San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on military or veteran-related issues. The panel includes eight women and seven men from every service branch. As well as a "veteran small-business owner, a military spouse, a military family caregiver and someone transitioning from active duty to veteran status" [8].


California Division United Daughters of the Confederacy


  1. Blakemore, Erin. “The Lost Dream of a Superhighway to Honor the Confederacy,” The Atlantic, August 29, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2021.
  2. Strong, W.F. “Jefferson Davis Highway: The Persistence of a Confederate Memorial,” Texas Standard, July 1, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2021.
  3. “Jefferson Davis Highway,” California Division United Daughters of the Confederacy, March 18, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  4. Waite, Kevin. “California’s Forgotten Confederate History,” The New Republic, August 19, 2019. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  5. Stewart, Joshua. “Confederate plaque in San Diego has history of controversy, repeated removal,” The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 16, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  6. Fox 5 Digital Team and Chen, Sharon. “San Diego Removed Plaque Honoring Confederate Leader Jefferson Davis,” San Diego History Center, August 16, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  7. CivicArchive. “Remove the Confederate monument from Horton Plaza Park immediately,” Change, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  8. Garrick, David. "Panel getting praise from local politicians, advocacy groups for military," The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 8, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.


May 12, 1926 to August 16, 2017


Grislean Palacios




Metal Plaque


HIST 402A Fall 2021


San Diego, California