Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jefferson Davis's Christian Testimony

Since today is Sunday, The "Lord's Day", it seems appropriate to write something about Jefferson Davis and his Christian convictions. I read an article on the Internet about him by Michael T. Griffith, that spoke about the depth of  his religious faith.

Griffith said Davis grew up studying the Bible, and that he often quoted from it. We know from other things we have read, that Davis attended church regularly. While the family was in Montgomery, they worshiped at St. John's Episcopal Church, a few blocks from the First White House. You can still sit in the "Jefferson Davis pew" today.

He and his pastor in Richmond, Rev. Charles Minnigerode, were very close friends. Griffith says in his article that Minnigerode "who knew more of Davis's 'inner life' than perhaps any other man, said Davis was 'always pure' and that his 'whole being' loathed 'impure thought' or 'anything low or corrupting'."

When I read about  him, I think of how he was tried in the crucible of War, and came out as fine gold. I just know from reading about his life, that this was a godly man of prayer, and that the Lord sustained him through all his many trials. What a wonderful thought that we will meet him in Heaven and really get to know him! What a privilege that will be.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The War Between The States - "Civil" or Not?

How can a war be civil? Good question, because civil means courteous, and is not very courteous to try to kill another person before they can kill you! By definition though, a Civil War is is struggle between "fellow citizens", as in The English Civil War (1642-1651).

Our "Civil War" is one of several names used for the bloodshed that occurred in the Eastern and Southern United States from 1861-1865.  We Southerners call it "The War Between the States" because that's what it was. It was not "the Civil War" because it was not an internal conflict. It was a war between one country (the United States of America) and another country (the Confederate States of America).

Northern writers refer to it as a civil war because they did note recognize that the South had the right to secede.They, of course were dead wrong. Jefferson Davis was never brought to trial because it was feared that it would have been proven that the South had the right by the Constitution to secede.

Some call it Mr. Lincoln's War. I think it best summed up by those immortal words: "The War of Northern Aggression"! What do you think?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Comment from a Website Reader

I thought you would like to read this comment that we received from the website: This person says: "I had the good fortune of visiting the FWH when I was a child. I am now 36 and remember how amazed I was at the history I was inches away from. I have since that time read everything I could get my hands on about The War Between the States. I would like to thank you for lighting that fire in me so many years ago. I now have children myself and will be looking forward to sharing you with them".

I am so glad she took the time to write and share this. It makes it all worth it, doesn't it? I feel the same way myself. I have mentioned before, the impact that my father had on me, telling me stories about Confederate battles, that he heard from his "grandpa".

 Another great influence on my life was going to the "Blue-Gray football game" as a child. I was such a southerner that I couldn't stand it when the Blue team won!!! I did not realize of course that players from both teams came from all over the United States. They just "put on" blue and gray uniforms! I hollered my heart out for the Grays every year!

And of course there is the quintessential book, Gone With the Wind, and the movie. The influence it had on me was immeasurable. Whenever I went to Atlanta on the train, I felt like I was Scarlett O'Hara leaving Tara to visit Aunt Pitty Pat. I was in love with Rhett Butler and I liked Scarlett much better than  Melanie Hamilton!!!

Comments on Lee and Longstreet

Dear Readers, I invite you to read the two excellent comments from Richard and another friend on the July 20 blog regarding Longstreet and Lee. Such insightful comments on the two Generals and the battle of Gettysburg. It reminds me of what another friend once said: "I hate to read about the War because I can't stand losing". It is very sad, when we think "what if", but for some reason, God did not want this country divided. We won't know "why" until we get to Glory, but that is one thing I plan to ask the Lord about!

At any rate, thanks to you two guys for taking the time to add such good information for all of us. Please take the time to read what they have written for our edification! And folks, please keep those comments coming. We all learn from them!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jefferson Davis, A Stellar Example to Emulate

Hudson Strode, in his biography of Jefferson Davis wrote these words: "And Mr. Davis's private life, filled with family sorrows, personal distress and disappointment at every turn, offers a stellar example of the finest national qualities for future generations of Americans to emulate".

Jefferson Davis was a "President without precedent", Professor Strode said. He formed a brand-new nation in the cauldron of a terrible war. General Fitzhugh Lee declared in 1890  "Jefferson Davis was one of the greatest men this republic has ever produced...He stood steady in his firm belief in the construction and doctrines of the Government, though the very 'lightning scorched the ground beneath his feet'...The Southern people loved him. They are prepared to protect and guard his memory from the fierce future winds of prejudice."

I am glad in this day on non-heroes, that we still have someone like Jefferson Davis to look up to. His duty was thrust upon him, and he accepted it without complaint. Someone said recently, the victors get to rewrite history. Maybe that is why Jefferson Davis has not been appreciated as he should have.  been. Nonetheless, as Strode said,  "his place in history, as the first and only President of the Confederate States of America is unique", and his character unquestionable.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Visitors to the First White House of the Confederacy

Its hard to believe 2012 is half gone.You may be curious about the number of visitors we have had at the First White House during the first six months. Here is our "head count"through June 30, 2012  -  14,598.

This is about 1000 more people  than we had this time last year. We are doing everything we can to increase the number that visit, through magazine advertising, the website (www.firstwhite and of course, word of mouth.

I am very excited that a Civil Heritage Trail is underway in Montgomery. More will be said about that  soon, as Montgomery's Downtown Business Association is working on this. It should be a huge asset for the downtown area, where there are so many Civil War and Civil Rights sites to visit. Educate, Educate, Educate! That is our main purpose..

And, for your information, if you are like me and enjoy facts and figures, here is the breakdown of visitors to FWH so far this year: 9525 from Alabama; 4627 from other states; and 446 from foreign countries. 60% of our visitors are from scheduled tours, mainly 4th grade Alabama school students, because this is when they study Alabama history.

Friday, July 20, 2012

White House Association, Keeper of the Relics in the First White House

Some of you may not know that the White House Association was established by an act of the Alabama legislature in 1901 (before there was a, gasp, IRS), and amended in 1923 and 1951.

 We are chartered with: "the management of the First White House of the Confederacy, as an institution for the cultivation of Confederate history, the preservation of Confederate relics and a reminder for all time of how pure and great were southern statesmen and southern valor."

We are also listed on page 437 in the Alabama Government Manual, Thirteenth Edition (2010) which can be read on their website.

The First White House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. It is furnished with original and period pieces from the 1850's and 1860's and includes a number of  personal items of President and Mrs. Davis.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Near Miss at the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery

No, it wasn't a tornado or a hurricane but it was a big, strong wind, I guess, because it took down a tremendous limb from our lovely, large, old oak tree in the side yard at the First White House!

I could hardly believe it. It landed between the Union street side of the House and the historic wrought iron fence (original to the House). The house did not have a scratch, and the fence only minimal damage.

Once again I realize, the Lord is looking after this wonderful, old house. How else could it have survived all it has gone through since 1835? It is such a treasure, and is there to teach the lessons of history and to help people enjoy the ambiance of the past, preserved in such a pleasing way. Thanks to Mrs. Napier and all who have gone before, for the great job they have done.

And thanks to the City of Montgmery, whose Tree Crew was out doing cleanup and hauling away tht huge limb at 6:00 am this morning. It was all over by "rush hour"! Aren't we blessed to have such a wonderful work force at the City?:  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Longstreet and Lee, The Tale of Two Generals

A biographer of General James Longstreet, Jeffry D. Wert wrote that Longstreet was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. He said: "in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side."

What happened between Longstreet and Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg? First of all, Longstreet did not get to the battlefield until late in the day on July 1. Meeting with Lee, he advocated a strategic movement around the left flank of the enemy, to secure good ground. Instead lee exclaimed, "If the enemy is there tomorrow, we must attack him."

Many historians agree that Longstreet did not aggressively pursue Lee's orders to launch an attack as early as possible the next morning. It was 4 p.m before he began his assault; competently against fierce Union resistance, but it was largely unsuccessful, with significant casualties.

That night, Longstreet failed to meet with General Lee to discuss the day's battle. This failure to communicate resulted in disaster on July 3rd.  Lee ordered Longstreet to coordinate a massive assault on the center of the Union line, employing Pickett's division and brigades from A.P. Hill's corps. Longstreet knew this assault had little chance of success. Longstreet claims to have told Lee.

Pickett's Charge suffered the heavy causalities that Longstreet anticipated. it was the decisive point in the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, and Lee ordered a retreat back to Virginia the following day.

Someone had to "take the fall". Lee was the hero and Longstreet became the scapegoat. That's my opinion. Would love to hear yours.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Happened to Jefferson Davis After the War?

On May 10, 1865 Jefferson Davis, who had evacuated Richmond April 2, was captured in Georgia with his family. Note to self: he did not cut and run to Mexico!

He began his two year imprisonment at Fortress Monroe, during which he was treated very badly. He bore this with great fortitude. He was released in 1868 and traveled in Canada, England and France.

From 1869 to 74 he served as president of a Memphis life insurance company, which unfortunately failed five years later. In 1877 he again visited England in an effort to increase trade with the3 South.

He settled at Beauvoir on Mississippi's Gulf Coast in 1878. He published his book: The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, in 1881. Sadly, he died on December 6, 1889, after in brief illness, in New Orleans. Varina was with him when he passed from this world to the next.

Generations Of Jeffferson Davis and His Parents, Samuel & Jane

Samuel Emory and Jane Cook Davis, genealogically speaking, were Generation I.

Jefferson Finis Davis (Generation II)  was the youngest son of Samuel  and Jane.

 Generation III included the four sons and two daughters of Jefferson and Varina. All four sons and the youngest daughter all died, either very young, or unmarried.

Generation IV included the five children of Margaret Howell Davis and Joel Addison Hayes, Jr. Four of these five lived to marry and have prodigy.The fourth son, Jefferson changed his name to Hayes-Davis. Thus the Davis name continues today.

Generation V included Jefferson Hayes-Davis, Jr., Addison Hayes-Davis and Adele Hayes-Davis. Its amazing when you think about it, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Do July 4th and the Great Seal of the Confederacy Have In Common?

What do July 4 and the Great Seal of the Confederate States of America have in common?  George Washington, the father of our country.

 Google the Great Seal of the Confederacy and see the picture of it showing George Washington on horseback in the center of the seal, in the same position as the 1858 stature of him, adjacent to the Confederate Capitol in Richmond.

Washington was the model for the Confederate Government. Because he had secured American independence, the Confederates used him as the symbol for the independence of the American South, as they sought to forge a new nation.

Washington is surrounded by a wreath of wheat, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice and sugar cane, the products of the southern states. The outer band of the seal has the words"The Confederate States of America, 22 February 1862" and the national motto, Deo Vindice, meaning "Under God" or "With God as our Champion".

The date is significant because on Feb. 22, 1862 Jefferson Davis was inaugurated after the general election. Feb. 22 is also the date of George Washington's birthday. Happy 4th of July to all our readers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Heroism at Fredericksburg

There is a great article in the June/July issue of the UDC magazine about a young soldier,Richard Kirkland, whose heroism was "so profound that it was often repeated in the years after the war".

He was a twenty year old farm boy from South Carolina when he aided the enemy lying on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, as they cried out for water. He could not stand to hear their cries and was granted permission to go onto the field with his canteen (but not allowed to show a white flag).

For ninety minutes Confederate and union soldiers alike watched as he moved from soldier to soldier, giving them sips of water, until all the wounded in the area had received a drink.

 It reminds me of the story of the woman at the well, in the gospel of John, chapter 4 when she asks Jesus for a drink. Christ tells her that if she knew who He was she would have "living water that would become in her a spring of water, welling up to eternal life".

 Sadly, Richard Kirkland died a few months later in the fighting at Chickamauga. His last words were "tell my pa I died right". A bronze sculpture was erected on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, in 1965. It beautifully depicts Richard lifting the head of his enemy so he can give him a drink from a canteen..

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Things Confederate Making The News

"Things Confederate" continue to make the news. Last week in the Wall street Journal there is an article about the opening of the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox. This annex of Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy, at Appomatox  is so rich that (and I quote from the WSJ) "you may well want to plan two days here. After your first trip through the 5,000 square feet of gallery space, you'll want to turn right around and go through again, afraid that you've missed something".

Another improvement plan regarding "things Confederate" is described by Alvin Benn, in the June 27 Montgomery Advertiser, to give Confederate Circle in Selma, Alabama. 'a new look'. Confederate Circle is located near where Yankee cavalry routed outmanned Confedederate defenders under Nathan Bedford Forrest's command in the waning days of The War. Money is being raised to beef up security, and improve the area.

At the First White House of the Confederacy we witness every day the fact that people want to know about the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and the part Montgomery, Alabama played in the War. Over and over again we hear "we were just on our way from such and such to so and so, and we just wanted to stop by and see the First White House". It makes us so grateful to be a part of this history that is as "new" as it is old.