Symbols, Past and Present

What did an African-American spy for the Union working in Jefferson Davis’s Confederate executive mansion, a young African-American boy who lived in the mansion in 1864-1865, and the youngest daughter of Jefferson and Varina Davis, who was born in the mansion in 1864, have in common?  The obvious answer to this no-brainer is that all three had an intimate connection with the building known today as the “White House of the Confederacy”.

Read More
Seizing Freedom

Every day and in every way, enslaved people sought freedom - often times seizing it as opportunities arose.  Yet, their flight was neither impulsive nor improbable but deliberate and purposefully planned. They made decisions that would have a lasting impact not only on themselves but the loved ones left to languish in slavery.

Read More
“Youth and Beauty” in the Confederate White House: Margaret Graham (“Maggie”) Howell

Confederate “First Lady” Varina Howell Davis and her circle of friends were not the only upper-class women to grace the White House of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.  Although young by First Lady standards (Varina was 35 when she moved into the Richmond executive mansion), she was no “belle.” And, as novelist Thomas Nelson Page observed after the war, “the key” of antebellum southern social life was set to young women.

Read More
The Architecture of 1201 E. Clay Street

The White House of the Confederacy turns 200 this year, so what better time to take a look back at the design and architecture of the house? In two posts below, Museum historian John Coski shares research findings by Museum employees and graduate students from the 1990s, and architectural historian Edwin Slipek suggests a brand new theory. 

Read More