Sitting along the shores of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Biloxi features sandy beaches and calm waters. Biloxi also features the home and Presidential Library of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Known as Beauvoir, this final home for Jefferson Davis was nearly demolished by Hurricane Katrina. The house itself was under 30 feet of water at the worst point. But after a $4 million restoration project, the home and library are open to the public again. Some of the original artifacts were lost in Katrina, but the library museum still has ample exhibits.
Some have described Beauvoir as “the Confederacy’s Mount Vernon.”
Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe on the coast of Virginia where he had iron shackles riveted to his ankles. He was allowed no visitors, and no books except the Bible. He served two years in prison before being released on $100,000 bail, which was posted by Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Gerrit Smith.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson issued a Christmas Day presidential “pardon and amnesty” for the offense of treason to “every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion.”
Davis was a man without a country. Despite his pardon, his citizenship remained stripped from him. He was the only person from the confederacy who was not returned to citizenship following the war.
He eventually was granted citizenship posthumously by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
The “catafalque” was used in the funeral procession of Jefferson Davis on December 11, 1889 in New Orleans.
In Jefferson Davis’ last speech, he expressed his desire for a fully reunited country:
“I feel no regret that I stand before you this afternoon a man without a country, for my ambition lies buried in the grave of the Confederacy. Aye, the grave of the Confederacy. There have been consigned not only my ambition, but the dogmas upon which that government was based. The faces I face before me are those of young men; had I not known this, I would not have appeared before you. Men in whose bands the destinies of our southland lie. For love of her, I break my silence, to speak to you a few words of respectful admonition. The past is dead: let it bury its dead, its hopes and its aspirations. Before you lies the future—a future full of golden promise; a future full of recompense for honorable endeavor; a future of expanding national glory, before which all the world shall stand amazed. Let me beseech you to lay aside all rancor, all bitter sectional feeling, and to take your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished — a reunited country.’