Located in Biloxi, Mississippi, Beauvoir is the estate where Jefferson Davis retired after he was released from federal custody following the Civil War. Today, it serves as the presidential library 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 minutia of the house and artifacts from that time. In contrast, the museum and library extol the virtues of the Confederate soldier, providing an impressive array of artifacts for those interested in Civil War memorabilia including flags, munitions, and uniforms.
The valor and ability of the southern soldier is paramount to this museum, and the library provides reference materials and a quiet space to look up the names of regiments and soldiers. In fact, along the sprawling grounds of the property you can view the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, provided you adhere to the inscription outside the gates of the cemetery to “tread lightly.”
If there was any mistaking what continues to draw visitors to Beauvoir, the gift shop provided the final clues. Replica ‘Dixie’ currency, Confederate forage caps, copies of Disney’s Song of the South are interspersed with Confederate flags and posters that declare a clear position on the debate in Mississippi to remove the Confederate battle flag from the current state flag: “Keep the flag. Change the speaker.”
The most moving aspect of Beauvoir relates to a small cottage adjacent to the property. Davis initially travelled 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 it was aptly 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.