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Home Uncategorized Monumental RVA: Take 1 – Jefferson Davis

Monumental RVA: Take 1 – Jefferson Davis

Published on July 26, 2012 by

Jefferson Davis’ grave n Hollywood Cemetery

If Abraham Lincoln was a vampire slayer, what does that make his southern enemy Jefferson Davis?  I know we just got off of a vampire kick, but the guy did attend Transylvania University.  I’m just saying.

For those of you who don’t know Jefferson Davis is more than a road that cuts through Richmond on its way to Key West.  (Like just about every road that runs through Richmond it has several names.  Here it’s the Jefferson Davis Highway.  In the keys it’s called the Dixie Highway, and up north it’s called the Boston Post Road.  Yay, confusion!)  Jefferson Davis was the one and only president of the Confederate States of America, or the War of Northern Aggression if you swing that way.  Born in Kentucky, fought and served as Senator for the state of Mississippi against Mexico; he called for the preservation of the union in Maine and Boston, and joined with the secessionists in 1861.

After the Civil War, historians largely blamed the defeat on the military ineptitude, money mismanagement, and general management style of Jefferson Davis.  He was tried for treason by the North and largely scorned by the South in favor of the more charismatic Robert E. Lee.  However; with PR skills that many modern day politicians would kill for, he eventually was lauded for his pride and ideals.  And so Richmond built him a monument.

Imagine how big it would have been if he had won!

The Jefferson Davis Monument stands at the corner of Monument Avenue (really?) and… wait for it… Davis Avenue.  It was sculpted by Edward Valentine and was unveiled in 1907.  It is the 3rd of 6 major monuments on Monument Avenue, most of which celebrate the failure of the South.  (And a tennis player beating a bunch of kids, more on that later.)

“I abandoned you and let you burn! Richmond, build me a monument!”

Monument Avenue is one of the jewels of Richmond.  The ornate and beautiful mansions, the humongous 4-laned cobblestone road with a huge median is a prime example of the Grand American Avenue city planning style.  It’s the Main Street of Richmond… well, actually Main Street is the Main Street of Richmond but I digress.  In all honesty, I really like the statues and the celebration of American (Confederate?) history.  I am also glad that we have begun to temper some of our idealization of bygone eras with some reminders of the not so noble ideals Richmond and the rest of the Confederacy were fighting for.  (Read: Slavery.)

I swear his hand was sculpted for pigeons to land on.

Together we will be exploring all of the monuments, big and small, that make up Monument Avenue and the rest of the city to boot!  We’ll also take a look at a bunch of people dressing up in weird costumes and running down our historic streets!  (Besides the regular weird costumes that you typically see in Richmond.  I blame PBR.)

I highly recommend the Richmond Monuments comic strip to learn more about what happens when I’m not taking pictures of the monuments.  I leave you with this amalgamation of pictures that I took and pieced together while skillfully dodging through oncoming traffic and ignoring blaring horns!  (I was only in traffic for the picture taking part, I prefer not to Photoshop in the middle of the street.)

You’re making me dizzy! No, seriously… make it stop!

Is there anything in RVA YOU find MONUMENTAL and want to know more about?  Leave a comment or email me at nick@photorva.com!  I’m always up for exploring our area and going for a spin!

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  1. […] time PhotoRVA took another stroll down Monument Avenue.  Last time we had a little chit-chat about Mr. Jefferson Davis, so I thought we would move down the ranks a bit and explore the monument and life of Thomas […]

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