02/08/2012 03:47 PM
BATON ROUGE – Volume 13 of “The Papers of Jefferson Davis,” published in March by
LSU Press, follows the former president of the Confederacy as he becomes head of the
Carolina Life Insurance Company of Memphis and attempts to gain a financial foothold
for his newly reunited family. Having lost everything in the Civil War and having
spent two years immediately afterwards in federal prison, Davis faced a mounting array
of financial woes, health problems, and family illnesses and tragedies in the 1870s.
Despite setbacks during this decade, Davis also began a quest to rehabilitate his
image and protect his historical legacy.
Although his position with the insurance company provided temporary financial stability,
Davis resigned after the “Panic of 1873” forced the sale of the company and its new
owners canceled payments to Carolina policyholders. He left for England the following
year in search of employment and to recuperate from ongoing illnesses. In 1876, Davis
became president of the London-based Mississippi Valley Society and relocated to New
Orleans to run the company.
Throughout the 1870s, Davis waged an expensive and seemingly endless legal battle
to regain his prewar Mississippi plantation, Brierfield. He also began working on
his memoirs at Beauvoir, the Gulf Coast estate of a family friend. Though disfranchised,
Davis addressed the subject of politics with more frequency during this decade, criticizing
the Reconstruction policies of the federal government, while defending the South and
the former Confederacy. The volume ends with Davis’s inheritance of Beauvoir, which
was his last home.
The editors have drawn from more than 100 manuscript repositories and private collections in addition to numerous published sources in compiling Volume 13.
Lynda Lasswell Crist has been editor of “The Papers of Jefferson Davis” since 1979. Suzanne Scott Gibbs has been assistant editor of “The Papers of Jefferson Davis” since 2006. T. Michael Parrish is Linden Bowers Professor of American History at Baylor University and the author of “Richard Taylor, Soldier Prince of Dixie.”
Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012