On Wednesday, February 16, 2011 the White House Association will partner with the Archives and History Department to celebrate a very special evening at the Archives. Dr. Ralph Draughon of Auburn, Alabama, a noted historian, will speak at 6:00 pm in the auditorium about the meeting of William C. Yancey and Jefferson Davis in Montgomery February 16, 1861. The crowd will gather in the Rotunda for refreshments at 5:30.
Here is what William C. Davis, In "A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy" tells us about that fateful evening. He tells us that Davis arrived in Montgomery exhausted. He had made speeches all along the way It was 10:00 pm when the train rolled into the station. Even before Davis stepped down, the crowd awaiting him shouted, cannon boomed and the church bells pealed again and again. He spoke briefly to the crowd and then Davis and Yancey stepped into a four-horse coach and rode toward Court Square.
In a few minutes he arrived at the Exchange Hotel with Yancey and the rest of the delegation. At a quarter to eleven Davis stepped out onto the second floor portico between the massive columns overlooking Commerce Street. "Now we are brethren" he told them, "men of one flesh, of one bone, of one interest, of one purpose". He hoped they would live in peace but if war should come to test their resolve, they would show themselves worthy inheritors of the heritage of 1776.
Davis went inside to unpack and prepare for bed. The crowd called for Yancey, the hometown favorite. Yancey came out and congratulated them on finding the right man, a patriot, statesman and soldier. This was their defining moment as Confederates, he told them. "The man and the hour have met". The crowd was electrified.
Won't you make plans to join us for the sesquicentennial celebration of this fateful night in Montgomery history? We will gather for punch and cheese straws at 5:30 and Dr. Draughon will speak at 6:00. Mark your calendars for a not-to-miss time of remembrance.