Varina Davis, Southern Women and Civil War

Here’s Professor Joan Cashin of Ohio State giving a really wonderful lecture on Varina Davis, wife of confederate president Jefferson Davis. There is a great deal here I didn’t know. I find some parallels between Varina Davis and Mary Lincoln in that both were highly educated, both didn’t fit in the society of their respective capital, both sought to express their individuality, and both had roots with the other side in the Civil War. Varina’s father was a New Jersey native, which I didn’t know. She nursed Union prisoners in Richmond, which was something else I didn’t know. She told her husband during the Civil War that if the confederacy lost it was God’s will, and that she would take a job for pay–signifying she was thinking freely and thinking about how the result of the war would lead to an upheaval of southern society. It seems to me she might have harbored some sympathy for the Union side in the war. Now wouldn’t that be interesting?

The video’s description reads, “In celebration of Women’s History Month and in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, the Arkansas Women’s History Institute and the Clinton School present a lecture on the role of Southern women in the Civil War. An associate professor at Ohio State University, Joan Cashin discusses the role of women in Arkansas and across the South in the war and provide commentary about her book ‘First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War,’ about the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Cashin specializes in the social, economic and cultural history of the United States, including the antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Her book won the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York.”


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