Beauvoir was the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and where he wrote his memoirs, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government and A Short History of the Confederate States of America. Before he became President of the Confederate States, he had been a U.S. Army officer who served in the Mexican War, along with Robert E. Lee and others who would later become generals on both sides of the conflict. Always politically minded, Davis held numbers of state and national offices including being Secretary of War, prior to succession.
Davis was the only person in the former Confederacy who had his rights as a U.S. citizen permanently revoked. After Davis’ death his wife and daughter sold the estate to the Mississippi Division of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans who operated it as a home for veterans, their wives, widows, servants and orphans. Approximately 1,800 people spent time at the home and about half were buried at the Confederate Cemetary on the grounds. The veterans’ home closed in 1957.
First opened to the public in 1941, Beauvoir came a tourist destination, and the first house tours were offered. Fires and storms removed the dormitories and other buildings associated with the veterans’ home and most of the original outbuildings. The Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum opened in 1998. Extensive exhibits were housed in a museum located in the “Library” which was a small ground-floor structure (since rebuilt) as one of a pair of buildings flanking the main house. Uniforms, arms, exhibits and papers kept here were swept away by Katrina in 2005. Only a few piles of bricks remained from these structures. Some items that were on exhibit were recovered and are being restored.
A new Presidential Library is under construction and will be open in 2012. Both facilities remain under the operation of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The house is open for daily tours starting at 9:00 AM. For more information consult the website: www.beauvoir.org.
The following video will show some of the damage done to the house from photos that I took on a second visit while the structure was being “stabilized.” While some original artifacts may be seen at the temporary welcome center – ticket office, many more will be displayed when the new presidential library-museum is completed in 2012.
The following video is also available on my YouTube channel “wmhoveysmith” at: http://youtu.be/iwM-dz5-BgM if you have difficulty in viewing it here.