Located in Biloxi, Mississippi, Beauvoir is the estate where Jefferson Davis retired after he was released from federal custody following the Civil War. Today, the historic home serves as a presidential library and museum for the only president of the Confederate States of America.
The museum, house tour, and library cover a disparate range of interests. The house tour is nostalgic of antebellum Southern life, devoted to the minutiae of the house, and artifacts from that time. In contrast, the museum and library provide an array of artifacts including Civil War memorabilia, flags, munitions, and uniforms.
Today, the library provides reference materials and a quiet space to look up the names of regiments and soldiers from our country’s history. Along the sprawling grounds of the property, you can also view the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, provided you adhere to the inscription outside the gates of the cemetery to “tread lightly.”
The most moving aspect of Beauvoir relates to a small cottage adjacent to the property. Davis initially traveled to Beauvoir to write his memoirs, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government and rented the small cottage on the property. It was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina but was soon rebuilt.
This was the place where the Civil War was reimagined, and the Lost Cause was born. It proves that the telling of our history is a fragmented and continual process. Moreover, it shows how adherence to ideology and myth connects generations and motivates people to act. Faulkner was right: the past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.