Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Beauvoir


  

  Beauvoir plantation is notable as the historic post-war home (1876-1889) of the former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Its construction was begun in 1848 at Biloxi, Mississippi. It was purchased in 1873 by the planter Samuel Dorsey and his wife Sarah Dorsey. After her husband's death in 1875, the widow Sarah Ellis Dorsey learned of Jefferson Davis' difficulties. She invited him to the plantation and offered him a cottage near the main house, where he could live and work at his memoirs. He ended up living there the rest of his life. The house and plantation have been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

  Ill with cancer, in 1878 Sarah Ellis Dorsey remade her will, bequeathing Beauvoir to Jefferson Davis and his surviving daughter, Varina Anne Davis, known as "Winnie". His wife Varina Howell Davis was also living there, and the three Davises lived there until Jefferson Davis' death in 1889. Varina Davis and her daughter moved to New York in 1891. After the death of Winnie in 1898, Varina Howell Davis inherited the plantation. She sold it in 1902 to the Mississippi Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with the stipulation that it be used as a Confederate veterans home and later as a memorial to her husband. Barracks were built and the property was used as a home until 1953. At that time, the main house was adapted as a house museum. In 1998, a library was completed and opened on site. The main house and library were badly damaged, and other outbuildings were destroyed, during Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Beauvoir survived a similar onslaught from Hurricane Camille in 1969. The house was restored and has been re-opened, while work continues on the library.

  I visited Beauvoir in 1981 while my Guard Unit was pulling summer camp at Gulfport. This picture was taken of me standing on the top step. Years later I found this picture of Jefferson Davis standing just two steps down from where I was which I thought was kind of neat. Davis was hardcore and didn't want the South to surrender. He encouraged his commanders, like Lee and Johnston, to take the fight to the hills and keep the war going. Davis wanted to establish a Confederate government in exile, maybe in Britain or France. He managed to evade capture until May 10, 1865 when he was captured by Union cavalry at Irwinville Georgia. For two years he was imprisoned at Ft. Monroe Virginia and shackled in chains for a while. The government wanted to try him for treason but they were afraid that he could make a valid case constitutionally for secession. Secondly many Northerners were outraged by his treatment and in 1867 he was paroled.


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