born at "The Briars," in Natchez, Mississippi on May 7, 1826, and would become
the wife of Jefferson Davis. When they married in 1845, Jefferson Davis could
not have selected a better choice for his wife, considering that his future
would take him to the presidency of the Confederacy.
Varina was a very religious woman, and very intelligent, who
received little formal education, having been tutored privately and by a close
family friend. In her teens she did attend a finishing school where her social
graces were enhanced. When she married Jefferson Davis at the age of nineteen,
her mother objected, as Jefferson was eighteen years older than she. But, their
married turned out to be a long and most happy one.
Varina had a strong interest in politics, therefore her
adjustment to the political life as the wife of a politician in Washington, D.C.
was easy. She also was a consummate hostess, and an exuberant conversationalist
and a story teller. Unlike her husband, she handled condemnation well, which was
an asset through the tough years as the First Lady of the Confederacy.
In 1862, when conditions in Richmond stated to deteriorate
and food was becoming scarce, she found herself under public scrutiny for her
entertaining at the White House of the Confederacy. Yet, others complained that
her parties were not extravagant enough. She also was chastised by those who
considered her influence on her husband too great, as well as would question her
loyalty to the South, in that her father was born in the North. As history
relates, these criticisms were not founded.
Jefferson and Varina would have six children together, one of
whom was born during the troubled times of the war, and another who died
At warís end, when Jefferson Davis was captured and arrested
in Irwinsville, Georgia, Varina was with her husband. Upon his confinement at
Fort Monroe, Virginia, Varina sent their children to Canada, to guarantee their
safety, to live with their maternal grandmother. As Varina was prohibited by the
Federal government from leaving Georgia, she spent this time campaigning to free
her husband. These attempts being unrelenting, Jefferson was finally released in
The Davises lived in Canada for a short while, in virtual
poverty, until the early 1870s, when a friend arranged for them to purchase the
Mississippi estate known as "Beauvoir." They retired here, and following
Jeffersonís death in 1889, Varina remained to write her memoirs.
Varina eventually moved to New York City, and gave Beauvoir
to the state of Mississippi to be used as a Confederate veteranís home. While in
New York, she supported herself by continuing to write articles for various
magazines. Varina Davis died in New York City on October 16, 1905. Sadly, she
was survived by only one of her six children.