FIRST LADY OF THE CONFEDERACY

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Harvard University Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 403 pages
23 Reviews

When Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederacy, his wife, Varina Howell Davis, reluctantly became the First Lady. For this highly intelligent, acutely observant woman, loyalty did not come easily: she spent long years struggling to reconcile her societal duties to her personal beliefs. Raised in Mississippi but educated in Philadelphia, and a long-time resident of Washington, D.C., Mrs. Davis never felt at ease in Richmond. During the war she nursed Union prisoners and secretly corresponded with friends in the North. Though she publicly supported the South, her term as First Lady was plagued by rumors of her disaffection.

After the war, Varina Davis endured financial woes and the loss of several children, but following her husband's death in 1889, she moved to New York and began a career in journalism. Here she advocated reconciliation between the North and South and became friends with Julia Grant, the widow of Ulysses S. Grant. She shocked many by declaring in a newspaper that it was God's will that the North won the war.

A century after Varina Davis's death in 1906, Joan E. Cashin has written a masterly work, the first definitive biography of this truly modern, but deeply conflicted, woman. Pro-slavery but also pro-Union, Varina Davis was inhibited by her role as Confederate First Lady and unable to reveal her true convictions. In this pathbreaking book, Cashin offers a splendid portrait of a fascinating woman who struggled with the constraints of her time and place.

  

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Review: First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War

User Review  - Jean Poulos - Goodreads

Varnia Howell Davis (1826-1906) wife of Jefferson Davis was the only First Lady of the Confederacy. My reading project this year is to read about the United States First Ladies. I felt I could not ... Read full review

Review: First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War

User Review  - Julie - Goodreads

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I normally do not prefer biographies, but I truly enjoyed this one. It was well-researched and interesting. It provided a unique perspective of the Civil War ... Read full review

Contents

HALF BREED
9
THIS MR DAVIS
31
FLATTERED AND COURTED
54
FIRST LADY
80
NO MATTER WHAT DANGER THERE WAS
107
HOLOCAUSTS OF HERSELF
128
RUN WITH THE REST
152
THREADBARE GREAT FOLKS
171
FASCINATING FAILURES
227
THE GIRDLED TREE
245
DELECTABLE CITY
264
LIKE MARTHA
283
AT PEACE
306
NOTES
315
A NOTE ON SOURCES
393
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
395

TOPIC OF THE DAY
190
CROWD OF SORROWS
209

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About the author (2008)

Joan E. Cashin is Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University.

Bibliographic information