7 EIGHTEEN SIXTY - FIVE began with unseasonably cold temperatures
and heavy snows. Richmond was full of “people,
and suffering, and crime,” as one resident described it, the
sidewalk hubbub punctured by the wails of the bereaved in their
houses. In the midst of this compounding misery, one of Varina's
friends from Washington, Francis Preston Blair, suddenly appeared.
His son Montgomery, a moderate Republican, had alienated so many
Radical Republicans that he resigned from the cabinet the previous
fall, but after President Lincoln's reelection, the elder Blair conceived
his own plan to end the war: the Confederacy would surrender so
die reconstituted United States could invade Mexico and overthrow
Maximilian, the Austrian prince installed by the French government.
The plan was as impractical as it was audacious, but Lincoln allowed
die elder Blair to go to Richmond to discuss it, and on January 12 he
arrived. Jefferson Davis agreed to a conference to discuss the possibility of ending the war.1
RUN WITH THE REST
Francis Preston Blair dined with the Davises at the Confederate
mansion, where Varina greeted him with the exclamation, “Oh you
Rascal, I am overjoyed to see you.” In reply Blair supposedly gave her
a kiss on the cheek. After he called her son William a “little Rebel,”
Varina “wept bitterly,” with what feelings of regret or shame we can
only guess. Later, when they had a quiet moment together, she asked
Blair about Ulric Dahlgren's orders to kill her husband. He made a
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War.
Contributors: Joan E. Cashin - Author.
Publisher: Belknap Press.
Place of publication: Cambridge, MA.
Publication year: 2006.
Page number: 152.
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