Mrs. John Napier in her booklet “The Struggle to Preserve the First White House of the Confederacy” writes that at the first State Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which was held in Montgomery on April 18, 1897, a proposal was made that the work of the UDC Alabama Division be “the purchase and preservation of the White House of the Confederacy.” It was Mrs. Jesse Drew Beale’s idea, so naturally she was appointed chairman.
Even before the second convention in Birmingham on Feb 17, 1898 there was opposition to preserving the Jefferson Davis House, described by one critic as a “very large old dilapidated building which the owner asks enormously for.”
In 1899 Mrs. Davis offered Mrs. Beale, a longtime friend of Mrs. Davis and her family many of Jefferson Davis’s personal things. Mrs. Beale appealed to the Governor, and he replied that the furniture, etc. could be placed in the Capitol until a permanent place was made for it in the FWH.
By 1900 the project to save the House by the UDC had become “entangled in personal differences” and was dropped. Shortly thereafter twenty-seven ladies gathered at Mrs. Clifford Lanier’s home to form the White House Association and to elect officers, including Mrs. Jefferson Davis as Queen Regent, and Mrs. J. D. Beale as Regent.
The rest of this very interesting story will be told tomorrow.