Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/330

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326 Southern Historical Society Papers.

trousseau that her father presented her with to take to Richmond, as became the wife of a Confederate Senator. In Congress, Mr. Semmes was at once appointed a member of the Finance Committee, in connection with Honorable R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, and Honorable Robert Barnwell, of South Carolina, and a member of the Judiciary Committee, of which Honorable B. H. Hill was chairman. He was also chairman of the joint committee on the flag and seal of the Confederate States. As chairman of the joint committee on flag and seal, Mr. Semmes took an active part, and his efforts were of no little importance in the selection and adoption of an ap- propriate motto for the seal finally adopted. In conjunction with Mr. Hunter, he prepared the " tax in kind bill," which practically supported the Confederacy during the last two years of the war. He also wrote the report on retaliation, and the report of the Judiciary Committee on martial law.

But all these facts are matters of history. It was of that inner life of the Confederacy that he spoke most freely, those days of social life in Richmond, gay and brilliant as some olden court, and then varying in the scale of merriness as the end of the gamut was reached and Richmond found itself a doomed city.

"Yes, the social life in Richmond during the war was very beau- tiful, and characterized by that old-time grace and hospitality for which the South was famous. It was, indeed, the last chapter in the history of that olden life. We occupied a beautiful mansion known as the Cruikshanks house. It was one of the finest houses in Rich- mond, and almost a fac simile of that occupied by Presidant Davis."

"Indeed," said Mrs. Semmes, " I liked our house much better than I did the presidential mansion."

Mr. Semmes smiled and continued: " Our home was the center of a most brilliant coterie. Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice- President of the Confederate States, was a bachelor, and asked to make his home with us. We also had Mr. Garland, afterwards a member of Mr. Cleveland's cabinet, and General Sparrow, my col- league. Of course, they did not want to accept my hospitality without paying board, and so we laughingly complied. My boarders during the last years of the war used to pay me about $900 a month, and we used to estimate the expenses of running our house at about $300,000 a year. Fancy this sum for household expenses, but you must remember that we were using Confederate money, and, as Mrs. Semmes used to say, we would send a whole basketful of money to market in exchange for provisions. Our boarders in reality paid us