Jefferson Davis and Varina Howell Davis

Varina Howell was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1826. Privately tutored in her youth, she also attended finishing school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She met Jefferson Davis, a 36-year-old widower, when she was 17, and they were married a year later. Much of Varina Davis’s early married life was spent in Washington, D. C., as her husband served as a U. S. Senator from Mississippi and Secretary of War in President Franklin Pierce’s administration. When the South seceded in 1861 and Davis was elected president of the Confederate States of America, the couple moved to the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. They would have six children, but only one would outlive Varina Davis. When the Civil War ended and Davis was imprisoned in Georgia, they sent their children to live in Canada. After he was released, they moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, to Beauvoir, an estate on the Gulf of Mexico. After Davis died, his wife moved to New York City, supporting herself as a writer until she died in 1905. Link to Beauvoir

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