Jim Limber

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Jim Limber
Nationality Confederate States of America
Other names Jim Limber Davis
Occupation Orphan
Known for Being Jefferson Davis' adopted mulatto son

Jim Limber, also known as Jim Limber Davis, was a mulatto boy who was briefly a ward of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America. He was under the care of the Davis family from February 1864 to May 1865. His real name may have been James Henry Brooks.[1]

On February 14, 1864, Varina Howell Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, was returning home in Richmond, Virginia, when she saw a black boy being beaten by a black woman. Outraged, she immediately put an end to the beating and had the boy come with her in her carriage. He was cared for by Mrs. Davis and her staff. They gave him clothes belonging to the Davis's son, Joe, since the boys were of similar age. When asked his name, he just said "Jim Limber."[2]

Davis arranged for Jim to be freed from slavery. It is unknown if Davis actually adopted him. There was no adoption law in Virginia at that time, so any adoption would be an "extralegal" affair.[3]

Jim was with the Davises when they were forced to abandon Richmond before the Union Army captured the city in April 1865. When the Davises were captured by Union forces in Irwinville, Georgia, on May 15, Jim was separated from them. Some recounts of the story say this was due to a swift kidnapping of Limber by the Union Army, while other accounts say that the Davises recognized a Union general they knew well, Rufus Saxton. The Davis family never saw Jim again.[2][4][5]

Jim briefly lived with Saxton in Charleston, South Carolina, but was eventually sent north for education until he was old enough to support himself.[6] Though it is mentioned in some of the more sympathetic biographies of Jefferson Davis that he never stopped searching for Jim Limber, this search seems to be recorded only in oral history as it is not mentioned in his voluminous surviving correspondence for the last two decades of his life in which mention at all of Jim Limber is fleeting.

In 2008, the Sons of Confederate Veterans offered a $100,000 statue of Jefferson Davis to the American Civil War Center in Richmond. A life-sized Jim Limber is depicted on the statue, holding one hand of a life sized Jefferson Davis who is holding the hand of his son Joseph with the other hand. The statue was completed in fall 2008[7][8] and while it was initially accepted by the center, the deal quickly fell through and is now on permanent display at [9] Beauvoir, Davis' Mississippi home.[10]


  1. ^ Crist, Lynda (editor). The Papers of Jefferson Davis: 1808-1840 Vol 1 (LSU Press) pg.547
  2. ^ a b http://spofga.org/flag/2005/feb/jim_limber_davis.phtml
  3. ^ Coski, John M. What do we really know about Jim Limber? Museum of the Confederacy Magazine, Winter 2008. pg.18
  4. ^ Coski 19
  5. ^ Jefferson Davis:
  6. ^ Crist pg.547
  7. ^ Szkotak, Steve. Confederate group offers statue to Civil War Center Associated Press June 2008
  8. ^ Jones, Will. Statue of Jefferson Davis is proposed Richmond Times-Dispatch June 10, 2008
  9. ^ Civil War Center accepts donated Davis statue Associated Press August 14, 2008
  10. ^ Johnson, Jr., Calvin E. (Feb 26, 2009). "Jim Limber Davis—Black History Month's Forgotten Story". Dawson Times. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 

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