Description

    Varina Davis Collection, including seven Varina Davis Autograph Letters Signed, one Jefferson Davis Autograph Letter (partial) Signed, and one printed invitation to serve as a pall bearer at Jefferson Davis' funeral. All items date from 1888 through 1901. Mrs. Davis' letters (all signed "V. Jefferson Davis") are written to John H. Reagan ("Judge Reagan") of Texas. All but one are written on black-bordered mourning stationery, and many are written from New York City's Hotel Gerard, which served as Mrs. Davis' home for many of her final years. John Reagan, who was appointed postmaster general for the Confederacy and later represented Texas in the U.S. Senate, had been a faithful friend to the Confederacy's president and had later proved a faithful friend to Mrs. Davis.

    Mrs. Davis' letters reveal her anger at Southerners for forgetting her husband and bestowing more honor on General Lee. For example, in her October 9, 1901, letter (three pages, Portland, Maine), she fumes, "Mr. Davis' great name has been waning for some years. The Southern people I do not think are entirely conscious of the effect that the abuse showered on him by the Yankees has been upon them. they praise Genl. Lee and so the Confederates think that shows Genl. Lee's superiority to Mr. Davis!" Three days later, she complains from the Hotel Brunswick in Boston, Massachusetts (three pages), "This Lee cult has grown before people too sincere [and] earnest to forget the man [Jefferson Davis] who sacrificed all for them. . . . Genl Lee's adhesion was not due to the conviction that we were right, for he did not know anything about governmental problems but he clung to Virginia!"

    Since Jefferson Davis' death in 1889, Varina Davis had concerned herself with rescuing her husband's memory - she wrote his memoirs in 1890, one year after Mr. Davis' death. She continued her apologetics in an August 2, 1897, letter, written on "The Rockingham/ Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island" stationery, in a lengthy letter (three and one-half pages) concerning the controversy surrounding the timing of the Confederacy's surrender to the Union. In that letter, she tries to deflect blame away from her husband by reminding Judge Reagan - who likely needed no reminding - that President Davis had said that he had "no power to surrender unconditionally the autonomy of the Confederate States. This power resides in Congress." In her other letters, she complains about her health and writes that she is "anxious about the success of my [book] first because I hope it shows my Husband in his true light & second because upon its success I depend for my support [three pages, May 30, 1891]."

    Jefferson Davis' Autograph Letter (partial) Signed (one and one-half pages, n.p., August 10, 1888, in pencil) begins in the midst of Davis' explanation of past soldiers' pensions and current Congressional publications. The printed invitation to serve as Davis' pall bearer is dated December 10, 1889 (New Orleans), yet has no addressee. All letters are toned; some with folds.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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