In the morning after breakfast I immediately head to the beach to collect a bottle of sand. I have been collecting leaves, cotton bolls, a nest, acorns and other bits and pieces. Some of these I throw out after a few days, but others I pack in a little box in the back of the van. Collecting is so satisfying. There is something about examining things that are unfamiliar.
Speaking of examining the unfamiliar, we are given the opportunity to do this just a few miles down the road. We have just started driving when I recognize a sign for a place that I read about yesterday. Beauvoir is a historical house that was the home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States. (Yes we are talking about the head of the South before and during the Civil War.) On a whim I tell Rudy to pull in. Men, waving confederate flags, direct us into the parking lot. What is this? What kind of event happening? We learn that The Sons of Confederate Soldiers are having a reenactment day. We are uncomfortable with all the flags and men with leather vests and confederate insignia but we get out and proceed to the museum building to see what it is all about. I have read some reviews of this place and many of them are glowing. One says about how you need an open mind to find out some of the true history of the Confederacy Movement. So here we are. We wander to the part of the grounds where the enactment will take place. There are lots of people in costumes, and loads of army tents and cannons and other paraphernalia.
We end up at the grave to an unknown Confederate soldier and watch a reenactment paying tribute to Confederate Soldiers and their families. It is very telling that no black people are in the crowd or represented in the group of actors even though it is a fact of history that there were black Confederate soldiers. It is hard to be disrespectful of of a 16 year old (the Unknown soldier whose bones were found on one of the Civil War battlegrounds just a few short years ago) who died for his belief in his state and its stand for states rights. But the whole bigger picture makes me uncomfortable sitting here and seemingly siding with slavery. It only gets more confusing as we continue on with our visit here.
Next we go to tour Beauvoir which is the home of Jefferson Davies after the Civil War. Beauvoir looks out onto the Gulf Coast and was originally built for a plantation owner. It is magnificent (built with help from slaves). Again the confederate flags on the front of the mansion to celebrate the day are disconcerting.
We learn about how Jefferson Davies was a great soldier and superior statesman and how he worked tirelessly for his country (first the United States and then after secession for the Confederate States). We also learn how he was never really for secession and felt very uneasy about the breakaway. It minimizes the issue of slavery stating that the discussions in government were dressed up to be about slavery but that was not the actual issue. Jefferson himself owner 116 slaves and was not opposed to slavery. As he said in 1860 in the Senate, “(Slavery was) a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves.” All this information I had to look up on the internet as none of it was stated at the Museum complex. Instead the narrative here at Beauvoir is that the Civil War was about State’s rights.
Even though it is interesting to be reminded about the differences and some of the issues between the North and the South pre and during the Civil War, I feel very uncomfortable about the number of Confederate flags and the lack of narrative about the issue of slavery. The question that kept coming back to me was how these Sons and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers feel now about so many issues surrounding the history and present issues involving Black Americans
Anyway, we pack up and head to New Orleans after we have a sandwich beside our car.. Once in NOLA, we check into our Airbnb and have a relaxing evening around the place. It is nice to be settled somewhere for a couple of days.