White House of the Confederacy
Original Author: Katherine Wetzel
Created: ca. 2001
Medium: Photograph
Publisher: The American Civil War Museum

White House of the Confederacy

An 1863 oil painting of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, hangs over the mantel in the parlor of the White House of the Confederacy, the Richmond, Virginia, residence which housed Davis, his wife, and their three children during the Civil War. The executive mansion has been restored to its 1860s décor and is currently open for tours as part of The American Civil War Museum. The 55-year-old Davis was painted in the Richmond residence by Baltimore artist John Robertson. Beneath the portrait are a pair of Confederate flags and a small collection of art made by Confederate prisoners of war, artifacts which Jefferson Davis's wife, Varina, made a point of keeping in view in the house.

The parlor was used frequently during the war, and on New Year's Day in 1862 and 1864, the Confederate president and his wife hosted an open house in the manner of the White House in Washington, D.C., welcoming all into the parlor from 11 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. Their neighbor, the renowned Southern diarist Mary Chestnut, wrote that Davis and his wife shook so many hands during the reception that "the President's arm [was] stiff … " for days afterward, "and Mrs. Davis' hand [was ] tender to the touch."