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Two Powerful Women of War

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Submitted By TamiyaJoren305
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Two of the most powerful men during the war of the North and South or ‘War Between the States’ was President Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and Varina Davis, wife of the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. These were women from rival governmental systems, yet lived parallel to either in a world where personal tragedies helped to conform them to the world around them. Abraham fell in love with his wife in 1862, while Jefferson Davis met his ‘rose scarlet’ in 1865. Through four years of battles, these two women helped to hold down the fort and maintain our country’s legacy through valiance, grace, and dignity. For a first time in America two presidents ran the nation, alongside the two leading women who stood behind them. Through many of the differences suffered because of the war, the two first ladies both had similarities that brought their unity closer than the men’s although it did not occur to anyone that the women were the ones who were to hold this nation together behind closed doors. Both women were from the South and married men who were very stubborn and affected by the civil war. However, one of the first ladies would be hailed as a public symbol for peace during the war. The other first lady would go on to become a symbol of recourse as the two women who lived in separate White Houses helped to bring about a great change to our nation. Mary Todd Lincoln’s life in the White House came under very harsh conditions. During a very effacing time in the world and our country’s history, the situation helped to tear her apart. She was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1818 to a very distinguished family. As a young child her existence around prominent political figures such as Henry Clay helped to bolster her interest in the world around her concerning political issues. She was intelligent, and hot natured, and disciplined with a very loving and loyal personality. It was in 1839 when Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister, Elizabeth when she first met a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. They did not hit it off at first, as their backgrounds proved to be anything but similar. Abraham Lincoln’s father was a poor farmer from Kentucky who raised Lincoln trough hardship. This caused Abraham to have a very rough upbringing and taught him how to become familiar with humble individuals. He was self-taught and shared a law practice office with her cousin. The two married in Springfield after a tumultuous courtship that almost did not exist at all. Meanwhile in the South, Varina Howell, who was well educated and born in Natchez, Mississippi, met Jefferson Davis, who was a graduate from West Point and who also owned a cotton plantation called Brierfield. The reunion was taken up by Davis’ brother Joseph who felt the need for him to be married, for many years he was a widower. His previous wife was one Sarah Knox Taylor who was the general’s daughter, one Zachary Taylor. The tide changed when Sarah contracted malaria and eventually died; a situation which drove him to the near edge of non-existence. Unlike Mary, however, Miss Varina was a saucy gal who attracted Jefferson with her keen wit, and lovely appearance. She was also attracted to the fact that he was a Democrat, being that her family was predominantly affiliated with the Whigs. They had minor differences in age, and politics, but married anyway. Mrs. Davis thus became the co-owner of one plantation. As fate would have it, the two women continued to stay by their husband’s sides.
Through trials and tribulations, death, and grief. These two women became the face of struggle and resistance through of a time of difficult transition into a new era, the dawn of the face of freedom. As the war ended, both women had lost a piece of themselves, whether it was through losing a child, when President Lincoln was assassinated, or when President Davis was arrested, these women truly were the beginning of a league of extraordinary, distinguished First Ladies.

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