As President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis tried to gain independence for the slaveholding Southern states that left the Union in 1860-1861. Davis faced many challenges, including shortages of war material, competing agendas of states rights-minded governors, and ultimately military disaster. He is notable, therefore, more for his failures (albeit under severe constraints) than for his accomplishments. Earlier in his life, Davis had several accomplishments, serving with distinction in the Mexican War, serving as Secretary of War, and, with the United States nearing the breakup that would result in the Civil War, as a member of the Senate. As the sectional conflict of the 1850s worsened, Davis began to view himself as a promoter and protector of sectional (Southern) interests, which he saw as threatened by the emergence of abolitionism and the Republican Party in the North. He opposed secession for most of the crisis, and left the Senate when it appeared inevitable. Ultimately, as President, Davis and other Southern political leaders hoped to accomplish the establishment of a republic in which property "rights" in enslaved human beings would be secure for the future.