The Election of Jefferson Davis

The Jefferson Davis Memorial, Richmond, Virginia

 

If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.

Jefferson Davis

On this day in 1861 the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as its president.

Davis represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and House of Representatives prior to becoming president of the Confederacy. He also served as United States Secretary of War under U.S. President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857.

Davis was born in Kentucky, but grew up on his brother’s large cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana. Prior to the Civil War, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi where he owned over seventy slaves.

Davis opposed secession, he believed in the states’ right to leave the Union. He was not considered an effective leader and some consider that to be the reason for the weakness of the Confederacy.

Davis was captured in 1865 after fleeing the fall of Richmond. Accused of treason, he was imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe. By the late 1880s, Davis encouraged reconciliation and called for Southerners to be loyal to the Union.

Davis died on December 5, 1889. Although initially laid to rest in New Orleans in the Army of Northern Virginia mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery, in 1893 Davis was re-interred in Richmond, Virginia at Hollywood Cemetery, per his widow’s request.

 

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William and Mary

On this day in 1693 the College of William and Mary was founded under a royal charter “make, found and establish a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good arts and sciences…to be supported and maintained, in all time coming.”

It was named for reigning monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II and is the second oldest college in the United States (after Harvard University, 1636) and the oldest in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

According to Wikipedia: William & Mary educated American Presidents Thomas Jefferson (third), James Monroe (fifth), and John Tyler (tenth) as well as other key figures important to the development of the nation, including the fourth U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall of Virginia, Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay of Kentucky, sixteen members of the Continental Congress, and four signers of the Declaration of Independence, earning it the nickname “the Alma Mater of the Nation.”

In other news, American composer, conductor, and pianist, John Williams, was born on this day in 1932. Williams is known and recognized for film scores that include the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman: The Movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the first two Home Alone films, the first two Jurassic Park films, Schindler’s List, and the first three Harry Potter films.

Lee-Jackson Day

From “Lee and Jackson Last Meeting” by Everett B.D. Fabrino Julio (1843 – 1879)

Over the last year, there has been a great deal said, a great deal of controversy, and sadly, a great deal of violence over the issue of Confederate monuments and the history of the Civil War.

Richmond, Virginia has long been known as the Capitol of the Confederacy, and the city with its large African American population still struggles with that.

Some say tear the monuments down. Some say they must stay.

There’s a lot to be said about the tourism dollars that come to the city and the state because of the history.

There’s no easy answer.

That’s why, in part, back in the 1990s, a compromise was born.

For years, Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson Day on the third Monday of January.

When that day became the federal day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., for a while, Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day.

Then Governor Jim Gilmore signed legislation designating the preceding Friday as Lee-Jackson Day while maintaining the third Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

State employees got a four-day weekend, just two weeks after the New Year’s Holiday.

History is complicated. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

But, it’s always fascinating.

Today is Lee-Jackson Day in Virginia

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Since 1889 Virginia has celebrated the birthday of Robert E. Lee. In 1904 Stonewall Jackson’s name was added. Both men had birthdays in January. The day was celebrated on the third Monday of the month.

But in 1983 the third Monday of January became the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For a time Virginia celebrated the day as Lee-Jackson-King Day.

In 2000 that was changed and now Virginia Celebrates Lee-Jackson Day on the Friday before Martin Luther King. Jr. Day.

Not all localities celebrate Lee-Jackson Day, but state offices are close on both Friday and Monday of that weekend.

Robert E. Lee (January 19, 1807 – october 12, 1870) was the commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia until such time as he surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865. Following the war, Lee served as President of what is now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) was perhaps the best known Confederate general after Robert E. Lee. Jackson was accidentally shot by Confederate troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. He lost an arm to amputation and died eight days later from complications of pneumonia.

Both Lee and Jackson are honored with statues along Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue.

History isn’t always pretty, but it’s always worth remembering.

Victory at Yorktown

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull, depicting the British surrendering to French (left) and American (right) troops. Oil on canvas, 1820.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull, depicting the British surrendering to French (left) and American (right) troops. Oil on canvas, 1820.

I have the honor to inform Congress, that a reduction of the British Army under the Command of Lord Cornwallis, is most happily effected.

General George Washington to the President of the Continental Congress on October 19, 1781.

On this day in 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to U.S. General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Virginia, in presidential election cycles, is known as a Battleground State. Truth is the Old Dominion was a battleground long before George Washington became the first president. Much of the American Revolution was fought on Virginia land and not quite one hundred years after that the majority of the Civil War battles were fought in Virginia. That surrender also happened in Virginia.

Virginia is a state full of history, from the landing at Cape Henry to the House of Burgesses, to the authors of the Declaration of Independence.

You can learn more about the battle at Yorktown by visiting the Yorktown Victory Center.

Yorktown also played a major role, so to speak in the recent (and current) Broadway musical hit “Hamilton.”

The days of wine and leaves

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“Wine … the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”

Thomas Jefferson

October is Virginia Wine Month. It’s also a perfect time to get out to view the leaves in all of their fall splendor.

Thomas Jefferson first sought to grow grapes for Virginia wine, but while he cultivated European grapes for thirty years he never really had any success. Read more about Virginia Wine History.

And read more about Jefferson and his love for wine here.

Why not take a trip to some of Virginia’s wineries to get the best of both?

Here are some suggestions for where you can celebrate Virginia Wine Month.

And here’s the fall foliage report for the leaf viewing.

Get out and enjoy.

Pairing Virginia Wines with your Thanksgiving Meal

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You have the plan for the turkey, and the stuffing, and grandma’s cranberry relish recipe.  But what about the wine?
Here are some posts that offer suggestions on how to pair Virginia wines with your Thanksgiving dinner.
This post is from 2014 but there are some great suggestions.
Alison says, “There’s no one right wine to pair with Thanksgiving, but some choices are better than others! Whether you prefer red, white or rosé, you’ll want to pick a wine that plays well with others to complement the huge array of flavors found on many Thanksgiving tables. Acidity is also a great feature when selecting a wine for Thanksgiving as it balances out the richness in many traditional holiday dishes.”
“Holiday wine matches aren’t so much about the food that’s on the table, but who is around it.”
“We pop the cork on our American Thanksgiving wine picks.”
“The Thanksgiving table is bursting with flavors: sugary sweet potato casserole, spicy cranberry sauce, smoky sausage stuffing, rich gravy. All these tastes need to be considered in making your choices.”
Again not exclusively Virginian, but Holley Simmons at The Washington Post offers The best beers and wines to pair with your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. “Thanksgiving is a day when no indulgence should be denied, so we present fool-proof wine and beer pairings for four common Thanksgiving dishes.”
The bottom line?  Sure, take the suggestions, but drink what you like.
Cheers!