Today is a significant one in our commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, because this was the day (Feb. 16, 1861) that Jefferson Davis arrived in Montgomery after a grueling trip by rail. Because the railroad bridges were out on the most direct trip to Montgomery, Davis had to go north, then east across Tenn and northern Alabama to Chattanooga, then southeast to Atlanta. It took a number of days!
At every stop people gathered to see their new President, and he had to address them. He lost count of the number of speeches he made. He was expected to arrive Feb 16, so Governor Moore had asked several local dignitaries, including Yancey, Watts, Pollard, Shorter, Mayor Noble and others to serve as a welcoming committee.
Pollard had a special railroad car fitted out for the occasion and the entire welcoming committee met Davis several miles east of West Point, Ga. Davis boarded this car, made yet another brief speech and off they went.
It was late evening when they arrived in Montgomery. Davis was escorted to the Exchange Hotel, and W.C. Davis reports in his book “A Government of Our Own” that the entire city was “agog” . Davis again spoke to the crowd. I have written about this in tomorrow’s Montgomery Independent so will not go into details here.
After his brief speech he went inside, and the crowd called for Yancey who gave a stirring and impassioned speech, in which he congratulated them on having found the right man. He told them this was their defining moment as Confederates. He said in a ringing voice, “The man and the hour have met”.
These famous words will be discussed tonight at the Archives at 5:30 by Dr. Ralph Draughon of Auburn. You can find more about this event on our website at www.firstwhitehouse.org and we hope any who are reading this and are nearby will come. It is free and the public is invited!