Joan E. Cashin, "Davis, Varina Howell," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-00260.html.
The secession crisis of 1860-1861 alarmed Varina Davis, as she did not wish to leave Washington and return to the South, telling her mother that the Confederacy did not have the resources to defeat the North. She apparently also had private doubts about slavery, for years later she wrote that it was absurd to fight a war to preserve it. When her husband became Confederate president, she went reluctantly to Richmond, where she became a controversial figure. Her direct manner put off many people who expected her to play a more sedate, "ladylike" role. Her opposition to secession does not seem to have been widely known, but her shrewd political remarks disturbed some politicians, who began to accuse her of manipulating the Confederate president. In fact, she had little influence over her husband, who made his own political and military decisions. She was relieved when the war ended in 1865, telling a friend that the past four years had been the worst of her life.