Among the things in Washington so very desirable to a gentleman about to set up a government of his own was the White House. Mr. Davis had long regarded this pleasant looking old mansion as a desirable residence for a gentleman born to rule over a people. Once comfortably seated in this pleasant mansion, a wonderful change would be worked in the political opinions of those whose minds were in doubt. Considered as master of the situation, his friends in the North would increase fourfold. And there was no knowing the turn respect for him abroad might take. A gentleman quietly settled down in the White House, if only for four years, is sure to have a large increase in the number of his friends, all ready either to accept his favors or sound his virtues. Even slavery, that had scourged mankind for so many generations, would have found a great increase of friends and admirers if Mr. Davis had made a home in the White House; so prone is weak human nature to bow to power. Indeed, I am not so sure that, with such a turn in our political affairs, those preachers who had been asserting the divine origin of slavery would not then have proclaimed that God himself was its great protector—a blasphemy the Christian Church will some day be ashamed of.
In addition to the White House being a desirable residence for Mr. Davis, there were those fine public buildings so much admired by strangers. They were just what Mr. Davis and his friends wanted in starting a new government, and would come in very handy. With Washington in his possession, and our worthy President and his Cabinet locked up in the arsenal, or sent on a traveling expedition into a colder climate for the benefit of their health, Mr. Davis’s new enterprise would become a fixture in the history of nations. And there was a time when Mr. Davis could, with the means in his power, have accomplished all these things.
The arsenal, too, was full of gunpowder, of great guns, of valuable military stores and equipments. And these were just such things as a gentleman resolved to be a ruler and have a government according to his own way of thinking would stand most in need of. In short, the powder and big guns might be needed as a means of convincing those who differed with him that his opinions must be respected. This is a queer world, my son, and man is the strangest and most uncontrollable animal in it. Mr. Davis understood this as well as any gentleman within my knowledge. And if he had kept as keen an eye on his finances as he had on his political fortune, it would have been much better for him. He knew that if he could show to the world that his new government was sound financially, and likely to continue so, his prospects would be bright indeed. And with Washington, and what Washington contained, in his possession, he could set up his claim to the confidence of the financial world with more than ordinary pretensions.