Who was this Thomas Hill Watts? (1819-1892). This illustrious man served as Alabama’s governor during the later half of the Civil War, the most trying period in the state’s history.
Though he had been a Whig and a moderate he served with William Lowndes Yancey, the fire-eater and arch-secessionist, as Montgomery County’s representative to the Alabama convention of 1861. His metamorphosis seemed complete when he vilified the Lincoln Republicans.
He ran for Governor and was defeated by John Gill Shorter, who had stronger secessionist credentials. He then helped raise the 17th Alabama Regiment in which he served as colonel. A year later President Jefferson Davis appointed him Attorney General of the Confederate States. Watts held this cabinet post for almost two years, when he was (this time) elected Governor of Alabama.
During his time as Governor, he put the needs of the State above those of the Confederacy, which did not make him too popular with the “powers that be”. At the war’s end, Gov.Watts was imprisoned by the U.S., but was pardoned by Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Now here is the important thing: The First White House owns a pair of bookcases that belonged to Gov.Watts. They are massive, and almost a “one – I should say two – of a kind! In the one on the right hang…guess what? (not books), but the original lace curtains which Mrs. Davis gave for use in the House.