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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

White House of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia

Posted By on January 3, 2013

The White House of the Confederacy is located at 1201 Clay Street in Richmond, Virginia.

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Historical Markers

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WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY

Built in 1818 as the residence of Dr. John Brockenbrough, this National Historic Landmark is best known as the executive mansion for the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865.  President Jefferson Davis and his family lived here until Confederate forces evacuated Richmond on 2 April 1865.  After serving five years at the headquarters of Federal Occupation troops, the house became one of Richmond’s first public schools.  In 1890, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society saved the mansion from destruction and between 1896 and 1876 used it as the Confederate Museum.  The society restored the house to its wartime appearance and reopened it to the public in 1988.

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THE WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY  has been designated a Registered National Historic Landmark.  Under the provision of the Historic Sites Act of 21 August 1935 this site possesses exceptional value in commemorating and illustrating the history of the United States.  U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1963.

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PRESIDENT’S MANSION

WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY

This house was the executive mansion of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family from August 1861 until 2 April 1865.  A West Point graduate, former U.S. senator from Mississippi, and former U.S. secretary of war, Davis was the Confederacy’s only president.  He worked long hours here, meeting with Confederate civilian and military leaders.  on 14 April 1862, he held a council of war here with Secretary of War George W. Randolph, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Gen. Robert E. Lee, and other officers to discuss the Confederacy’s defense against Union Gen. George B. McClellan‘s advancing army.

More often, the house was the site of official receptions and unofficial parties.  One observer declared Confederate First Lady Varina Davis “to be a woman of a warm heart and impetuous tongue, witty and caustic, with a sensitive nature underlying all; a devoted wife and mother and a most gracious mistress of a salon.”

The Davises’ young family enlivened the White House.  “Statesmen passing through the halls on their way to the discussion of weighty things were likely to hear the ringing laughter of the care-free and happy Davis children issuing from somewhere above the stairs or gardens,” remembered a family friend.  Two Davis children, William and Varina Anne, were born in this house; one, Joseph, died here from a fall on 30 Apr 1864.

On 4 April 1865, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln visited here ten days before his assassination and less than 48 hours after Davis departed.  Here, Lincoln began meeting with prominent Virginians to discuss the state’s reconstruction.

Historical Photographs

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The above photograph is from the Library of Congress and shows the White House of the Confederacy as it appeared during the Civil War.

No known photograph exists of Lincoln at the White House of the Confederacy, but several drawings have been found:

The building housed a large collection of Confederate artifacts until the new Museum of the Confederacy was built and opened adjacent to the White House in 1976.

The Gardens

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The gardens of the White House of the Confederacy are on the south side of the building which is referred to as the “south portico.”  In the Library of Congress photograph below, Union Gen. Edward O. C. Ord and his staff pose on the steps in 1865.

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The White House Garden is faithfully maintained through the generosity of the President Davis Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy.


Comments

One Response to “White House of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia”

  1. Delmar Harris says:

    Is there any photos on the internet of the building with the balcony on it that President Davis had removed after his son fell to his death off of it? I so where could I find it?

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