First White House
This 175 year old home in
Montgomery, Alabama, was
the first White House of the
Confederacy and a center of
activity in early 1861. - First White House of the Confederacy, Alabama - First White House of the Confederacy, Alabama
First White House of the Confederacy
This beautiful old home in Montgomery served as the
resident of the Jefferson Davis family in 1861 when
the Alabama city was Capital of the Confederacy.
Home of Jefferson Davis
Leased for the then stunning
sum of $5,000 per year, the
house served as the official
residence of Confederate
President Jefferson Davis.
Center of Southern Society
During the spring of 1861, the
First White House was the
scene of elegant receptions,
dinners and other events.
President Jefferson Davis
A statue of the President
stands on the grounds of the
Alabama State Capitol. The
building was the First Capitol
of the Confederacy.
First White House of the Confederacy - Montgomery, Alabama
Home of the Southern President
The First White House of the Confederacy is
a beautiful old landmark in the downtown
area of historic
Montgomery, Alabama.

The house was built in 1832-1835 by an
ancestor of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the famed
American novelist, "original Flapper girl" of
the 1920s and wife of writer F. Scott
Fitzgerald. After it was completed by William
Sayre, the First White House passed through
a string of owners who considered it a
fashionable residence.

Already 30 years old, it was remodeled into
its charming Italianate architectural style in
1855 by Colonel Joseph Winter. The
Italianate style was then popular across the
South and gave the renovated home new
value and charm.

In early 1861, as the Deep South states took
up South Carolina's lead and started to leave
the Union in protest over the election of
Abraham Lincoln as President, the city of
Montgomery was proposed as a meeting site
for a convention of the seceded states to
consider matters of common importance,
among them defence. The convention began
on February 4, 1861, and quickly led to the
establishment of a provisional government
for the Confederate States of America.

On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis of
Mississippi was sworn into office as the first
President of the Confederacy. A military hero,
former Secretary of War and former U.S.
Senator, Davis had been at home near
Vicksburg, Mississippi, when he received the
news of his election by telegraph. As was the
style of the day, he reluctantly accepted and
journeyed to Montgomery by steamboat for
his inauguration.

Varina Anne Howell Davis, the new first lady,
was the daughter of a former governor of
New Jersey and a cousin of Aaron Burr.
Accustomed to moving in elaborate social
circles, she entered her duties with clear
intent to charm both Confederate and foreign
leaders with extreme social dignity and
hospitality. Before joining her husband in
Montgomery, for example, she arranged for a
French chef to join the family in the new
capital and also acquired both an elaborate
carriage and custom designed French

On February 21, 1861, the Provisional C.S.
Congress authorized the leasing of an
executive mansion in Montgomery for the
new President and his family. The structure
known today as the First White House was
obtained for a then stunning sum of $5,000
per year from its latest owner, Colonel
Edmund S. Harrison of Prattville.
The home then stood near the Alabama
River at the intersection of Lee and Bibb
Streets. It was a prime location as much of
the activity of the Confederate government
was centered in the area and President
Davis and his family were staying at a suite
in the Exchange hotel which was just two
blocks away.

Throughout the spring of 1861, the First
White House of the Confederacy hosted
sparkling receptions and events. Numerous
writers of the time described the elegance
and charm with which Mrs. Davis received
guests and the house became the social
center of the South. The house continued to
function as the Southern White House until
the end of May when the Davis family moved
to Richmond, Virginia, which had become the
new capital of the Confederacy.

The First White House of the Confederacy is
now preserved under the auspices of the
White House Association. In partnership with
the State of Alabama, they have done a
remarkable job of preserving and interpreting
the historic home.

To see directions, visiting hours, admission
prices and more about the history of the
home, please click here to visit the official
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.