Friday, September 9, 2011

Anne Tidmore, Regent First White House of the Confederacy Speaks to the Prattville Dragoons

Anne Tidmore, Regent First White House of the Confederacy addressed the Prattville Dragoons during the camp meeting on September 8th.  She provided a wealth of information in her fast paced interesting speech on Jefferson Davis and the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery. Mrs. Tidmore attended Emory University and graduated from Huntington in Montgomery and founded Tidmore Flags and was recognized as having produced the flags still in use by the Dragoons during their camp meetings. She was a former Regent Daughters of the American Revolution and is the current Regent First White House of the Confederacy.  The following notes outline her speech:
Jefferson Davis was born in Fairview KY June 3, 1808 near Abraham Lincoln's childhood home.
Davis's home is marked by a 350 ft tall monument, the world's tallest concrete obelisk, similar in appearance to the Washington monument -
Jefferson Davis was the youngest of 10 children born to Samuel and Jane Davis.
Jefferson Davis's middle name Finis is actually Latin for "finished".
The Davis family moved to Mississippi early in Jefferson's life.
He graduated from West Point and served under Zachary Taylor in the Black Hawk War.
He resigned his commission to become a planter and to marry Taylor's daughter, Sarah but she died 3 months after they wed from malaria. 
For the next 8 years he was something of a recluse, managing his plantation and expanding his slave holdings and studying history and politics.
He met Varina Howell and was engaged to her within a month, marrying on Feb 26, 1845.  He was 37 and she was 18.  That same year he won his state's seat to the US House of Representatives.
They had six children but only one, Margaret, lived to adulthood and to have children of her own.
He resigned his seat in the US House to reenlist to fight in the Mexican-American War and raised a regiment, the Mississippi Rifles and was named colonel and successfully campaigned and was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista.
He returned home a military hero and was elected to the US Senate from Mississippi. As a Senator, he helped found the Smithsonian Institute and Museum.
He served as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce and was credited with building up the US army which proved to be a detriment to the Confederacy.
As the Road to Secession and War built, he tried to save the Union but when Mississippi seceded, he resigned his Senate seat on Jan 21, 1861.
On Feb 9, 1861 the Provisional Congress of the newly formed Confederate States of America unanimously elected Jefferson Davis President. 
He was informed of the decision while working on his Brierfield Plantation and traveled from there to Montgomery by steamboat, train and coach for his inauguration Feb 18, 1861.
On Feb 21, while developing the new country's Constitution and forming the Army, Navy, Post Office and other offices, the Congress leased an Executive mansion from Col. Winter.  This home was built in 1835 and purchased by Col. Winter in 1855.  It was to become known as the First White House of the Confederacy.  It has an Italiante style with a Liberty Cap design element. It was located at Lee and Bibb across from the Capital building.  The location is marked today by a granite monument next to Wintzel's Oyster House in downtown Montgomery. 
On March 4th Mrs. Davis arrived and the couple lived there thru the spring of 1861.  The furnishings in the house belonged to the Davis' or were used in the house or are period pieces. 
On April 10th the shots on Fort Sumter signalled the commencement of the War for Southern Independence and when Virginia seceded, on May 20 1861 the decision was made to move the capital to Richmond and on May 29th President Davis arrived there.
The War cost the lives of 620,000 Americans and ultimately the Confederate armies were defeated by forces of superior numbers and equipment.
President Davis was incarcerated at Fort Monroe and charged with treason but never tried as the US government feared such a trial would expose that the Confederate states legally seceded.  He was freed on $100,000 bond paid by wealthy Northern financiers including Vanderbilt.  He traveled in Canada and Europe following his release but eventually settled back in Mississippi where he built his final home, Beauvoir where he wrote the great historical piece The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. He toured the South after the release of this work and was hailed a hero. 
Davis was a great Christian who withstood great personal and public tragedy with the loss of his first wife, all but one of his children, and the dissolution of his country and defeat of his Confederate States of America.  While incarcerated he received a crown of thorns from the Catholic Pope Pius IX who recognized the tragic burden Davis carried throughout his life. 
When travelling back to Breirfield, he fell ill and returned to New Orleans where he passed away on Dec 5th 1889.  Davis' body laid in state and was first buried in New Orleans but later moved to the Hollywood Cemetary in Richmond VA.
The First White House of the Confederacy conservancy was established in 1900 and by act of the Alabama legislature, funds were allocated for it's restoration and maintenance and it was moved to it's present site.  The First White House receives approximately 16000 visitors per year including schoolchildren and tourists from all over the country and the world. 

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