April 11, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Thursday April 11, John Allen will speak on “The Turbulent marriage of Jefferson and Varina Davis”. Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agreed to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expected the secure life of a Mississippi landowner.
Davis instead pursued a career in politics and was eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history.
Jefferson Davis was NOT president of the Confederacy for 77 years. Yet, most of what we know about him is from his time as head of the Confederate government — and much of that is negative.
“Duty, honor, country” always occupied Jefferson Davis’s mind. He was a strong, yet gentle man; a stern soldier who loved horses, guns, poetry, and children; a master of the English language; a man of powerful feelings who held them in such tight control that he was considered cold; and a home-loving Mississippian who was drawn into a perfect storm of national events and eventual catastrophe.
Varina Davis sacrificed much in her life for a husband who did not completely love her. She was ambivalent about the Confederate cause from the beginning, stating from the outset she believed the South would lose, and late in life she confessed the right side won. Whilst she was utterly loyal to her husband her devotion was not without struggle, and it cost her much to subordinate her own will and become the dutiful compliant wife Jefferson Davis expected.
John H. Allen is a former President of the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round table, a position he held for 7 years. But there is more to this suave spokesmanfor the Alabama Bicentennial and America’s Civil War. He is a 1975 Universityof Alabama, Birmingham graduate where he earned a B.A. in English and minor in history. He was introduced to the people of Alabama in the good old days through his award-winning radio/television news reporting in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile. Then he progressed through the high-tech community of Huntsville as a program administer for Intergraph Corporation, where he focused on training management, writing, and community relations. He expanded his experience as a training manager with the Amana Factory in Fayetteville, TN and was involved with the Huntsville Art League where he recruited art teachers for quarterly sessions and finally transitioned to teaching English and History in various schools in the area. He is an author that contributed to the first TVCWRT book, “North Alabama Civil War Generals: 13 Wore Gray, the Rest Blue,” with a narrative on the life of CSA Major General Jones Mitchell Withers.
John was also the former President of the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society and in his spare time he stays fit by swimming and hiking and he needs to stay fit because, even as he says he is retired, he is in constant demand to address audiences around the Tennessee Valley regarding Alabama history.