Within weeks of Jefferson Davis’ death in December 1889, a group of men organized a memorial association with the sole focus of erecting a monument to the former President of the Confederacy. Fundraising stalled but in 1896 the group laid a cornerstone in Richmond’s Monroe Park with the hopes it would spur on donors.
In 1899, the mainly male members of the Jefferson Davis Monument Association admitted they did not have the capacity to furnish the monument and turned the project over to the five-year-old United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The UDC brought in funds from around the country.
In 1903 they hired Richmond architect William C. Noland and commissioned Richmond sculptor, Edward V. Valentine (1838-1930), to create the statue of Jefferson Davis and other supporting sculptures for the monument. The UDC was intimately involved in the design of the monument, to the point of taking committee votes as to whether Davis should be depicted standing or seated.
In 1904, Valentine wrote to Mrs. McCullough of the UDC: “I am striving to bring to light historic truth first – then artistic beauty. I may not be as eminently successful in the latter as I would like, but I insist that that monument – that design, shall be an object lesson without an historic flaw mistake – trustworthy in its inscriptions and symbolism, any departure from actual fact would render it as useless a memorial, pitifully worthless.”
The UDC raised funds from around the United States to pay for the monument. In the end, the monument cost about $70,000, or nearly $2.2 million in today’s dollars.
|Authors||Christina K. Vida|
|Work Title||Monument Avenue: Jefferson Davis Monument|
|Published||October 3, 2023|
|Updated||October 25, 2023|
|Copyright||© 2023 The Valentine Museum|