Every President since Herbert Hoover has received an official, federally-funded presidential library. The only President of the Confederacy now has one too. But it’s supported by the State of Mississippi instead.
Each American President beginning with Herbert Hoover has been honored with a presidential library that houses each president’s papers and artifacts. Over time, museums were added to these library sites to educate visitors about each modern commander-in-chief. Official presidential libraries are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
A number of Presidents of the United States, who served prior to Mr. Hoover, including George Washington, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, and Woodrow Wilson (to name a few) would later receive presidential libraries administered privately or unofficially, independent of NARA.
Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States of America, has one such unofficial “presidential library” in coastal Biloxi, Mississippi.
The property, referred to as Beauvoir, was owned by Mr. Davis in his later life. He died there in 1889, and his heirs later sold the property to the Mississippi Division of Sons of the Confederate Veterans under the condition that the organization first use the property as a retirement home for confederate veterans and their families and then later designate the land to feature a memorial to Mr. Davis’ life.
The library and museum, which was not opened until 1998, houses possessions and documents that belonged to Mr. Davis and numerous exhibits about the Civil War. The museum, which does not receive federal funding, is supported by the State of Mississippi and strives to educate the public about Southern history.
The museum, which is situated just yards from the Gulf of Mexico required significant repairs following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall less than 30 miles west of Biloxi. After extensive and costly renovations, it re-opened in June of 2013.
Mr. Davis was not born in Mississippi. Originally from Kentucky, Mr. Davis would come to serve as a United States Senator from Mississippi in the years immediately preceding the Civil War. Although he was initially opposed to the dissolution of the Union, he believed that states had the right to self-determination, and on February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn into the newly-created office of President of the Confederate States of America in front of the Alabama State Capitol building. His effectiveness as President has been met with a range opinions from historians with some experts crediting the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War to his leadership.