Thursday, December 27, 2012
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JIM LIMBER...
Confederate diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote on February 16, 1864, that she saw in the Confederate executive mansion "the little negro Mrs. Davis rescued yesterday from his brutal negro guardian. The child is an orphan. He was dressed up in little Joe's clothes and happy as a lord."
The Confederate First Lady Varina Davis recounted the story in her 1890 memoir and claimed that the president "went to the Mayor's office and had his free papers registered to insure Jim against getting into the power of the oppressor again." The free black register and other records that could corroborate or contradict her account apparently have not survived. Nineteenth-century Virginia law did not provide for formal adoption of children, so in Jim's case it was an informal adoption.
An ambrotype photograph taken of Jim Limber early in 1865 and correspondence between members of the Davis family suggest that he was a close playmate of the Davis children. Late in April 1865, as the Davis family fled southward from Richmond, Varina Davis wrote to her husband: "The children are well and very happy—play all day—Billy & Jim fast friends as ever … "
Jim was separated from the Davises after their capture in May 1865. When the child realized he was to be separated, according to Davis, he "fought like a little tiger and was thus engaged the last we saw of him. I hope he has been successful in the world for he was a fine boy, notwithstanding all that had been done to mar his childhood."
According to a column in the SCV's magazine, Jim Limber is "a person lost in history by revisionist historians, who felt his existence would impair their contrived notions of Davis."
Oh what wicked webs Yankees weave, when first they practice to deceive. God forbid the world should know the Davis's weren't racists...