Varina Davis, Beauvoir, and the Fight for Confederate Memory

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Spencer, Evan Ruark
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Middle Tennessee State University
Varina Davis, the First Lady of the Confederacy, had a remarkably contentious relationship with southerners after her husband’s death in 1889. She conflicted with groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy [UDC] over Civil War memory in ways that now seem counterintuitive. These battles demonstrate a fundamental incompatibility between the UDC’s “Lost Cause” memory and the actual past as southerners like Varina experienced and remembered it. The Lost Cause did not serve as a ubiquitous memory, but constructed a past that supported the missions of the UDC in the present. Any person—southern or northern—who undermined Lost Cause mythology was a threat to the Daughters and their mission. Varina’s struggle with southern groups throughout the last years of her life illustrates the incompatibility between the Lost Cause and the actual history of the Civil War.
Beauvoir, Civil War, Civil War Memory, Confederate States of America, Lost Cause, Varina Davis