Resolved: Not one Federal dime should go to rebuild Jefferson Davis's house

If Mississippi state officials want to appropriate money, fine. Davis served as a U.S. senator and congressman from Mississippi, after all. But he led the Confederacy, which sought the breakup of the United States, and was commander-in-chief of the armies which fought Union forces, at a cost of 600,000-plus lives.

Eleven days after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Davis told the Confederate Congress that the document was “the most execrable measure in the history of guilty man.” Davis said Union officers captured while leading black troops would be turned over to state governments to be punished as “criminals engaged in inciting servile insurrection,” the penalty for which would, of course, be death.

Surely there are better uses for your and my Federal tax dollars.

If it makes you feel any better, just think of it as an “old house museum.” There are hundreds of those around the country, (including those of our Founding Fathers, some of whom not only held racist views but actually owned slaves.) That’s not to mention the hundred of house museums that belonged to minor historical personages or were preserved because they were just plain lovely. These old, beautiful homes are dissapearing too quickly, and I believe we should make every effort to preserve them as part of our national heritage.

Like it or not, ugly things have happened in our history. Neglecting to preserve that part of our past out of ideological indignation does a grave disservice. We shouldn’t bury our shame-- we should learn from it.

We shouldn’t try to bury history just because it is unpleasant. Maybe there are better things to spend our money on but just because J. Davis wasn’t a good guy doesn’t mean historical sites connected to him aren’t worth preservation.

Divisive? Maybe, but Jefferson Davis has a legimitate place in U.S. history even if it is that of a villain. Do federal dollars support other historic locals?


I say, give them federal funding for restoring this very-important-to-all-Americans-of-all-races historical site – only provided such funding is matched dime-for-dime by funding for new monuments to Martin Luther King – who was not only a black hero, not only an American hero, but a Southern hero, and a far greater one than Jeff Davis.

After all, King did more for the South, and more for the white South as well as as the black, than any other Southerner in history, including Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, John C. Calhoun, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Consider: From 1865 to 1965, the South was effectively a Third World country within America – an exploited, impoverished colony of Yankee business interests. And now we’re one of the most economically vibrant regions of the U.S. Can anyone seriously believe that the Southern economic revolution of the '60s and '70s could have happened, if the Southern civil rights revolution had not happened first?! The South has risen again, and we have MLK to thank for it! (Of course the civil rights revolution was a group enterprise involving millions, black and white, but if any individual deserves to be identified with it, MLK is he.)

I have often posted in this forum reviling the South’s regional culture – but only its political culture, and only WRT those aspects of it that set it at odds with the rest of the country’s. (Of the three American regional political cultures identified by political scientist Daniel Elazar, the South’s “Traditionalist” culture has no legitimate place in the American polity and never had.) But I speak here as a white Southerner who had ancestors (on my mother’s side) who fought in the Revolution (for the Patriots) and who fought in the Civil War (for the Confederacy). And I say I have as much right to speak for the South, and as much right to speak for the white South, as has Jesse Helms, or Rick Santorum, or David Duke. And I say MLK was the greatest Southern hero of all time!

I agree with **Elendil’s Heir ** and if Thad Cochran cares so much about this building he should go through the south and raise money for it.

Davis is and always will be a traitor to the USA. He was fortunate he was allowed to live in style and was not put in Federal jail for life. His home could only be a reminder of our counties worst history. There is no glory in the confederacy, they were desperate to retain their rights to enslave fellow humans and treat them like animals. Davis led this fight, he should be considered a bloody stain upon our nation.


That’s just plain ridiculous. They’re not talking about building a new memorial to Davis they just want to preserve a piece of history that has been damaged. The buildings destroyed were historically significant and should be repaired along with all the other historical sites damaged by the hurricane.

You want people to concede that King was better for the south than Davis? Fine, you win that arguement, congratulations. Now explain to me how it is relevant when discussing the preservation of historical sites.

Ample reason for his home to be preserved I’d say. We shouldn’t just work to save the nice parts of our history we need to look at the ugly as well. Plus, it really does look like a lovely home.


Although I don’t think that any one person can “speak for the South,” you certainly make a great deal more sense to me in your post than Daniel Elazar’s broad brush “Traditionalist Culture” view.

For MLK:

“Born of the sun, he travelled a short while toward the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with his honor.” – Stephen Spender

That is fine let them raise the money. There is no reason to spend 80 million Federal dollars to restore the “storm-battered historic property”. I bet they can get by quite fine on donations from people with confederate pride and maybe some volunteer workers. But I really cannot see the justification of spending $80 million federal dollars on such a place. This is not just about Davis being a traitor this is also about blatant pork and misallocation of federal emergency money that should be going to help people and build protection against future storms.


Well, on finer analysis, that “Southern” political culture can be broken down into two cultures – “Tidewater” and “Highlands.” From Vietnam: The Necessary War, by Michael Lind:

The 80 million isn’t for the Davis house it is to be divided among Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation the money “will go a long way towards assisting property owners, particularly low- and moderate-income owners of historic homes.” (Check out the NTHP website.)

Since that 80 million has to be divided among so many areas I imagine they’ll be doing plenty of fundraising though what Confederate pride has to do with anything is a mystery to me.

It’s 80 million out of a 27 billion dollar package, it’s going to help owners of historic homes with damaged property, and it’s spread across three different states among many different people not just those who own the Jefferson Davis house. Do you object to the package as a whole or just any portion of it being spent on the Jefferson Davis house?

One of the justifications I hear for preserving New Orleans is because of historic preservation. Architecture, culture, etc. If these things aren’t important then why bother trying to save the city? If it is important to preserve New Orleans for historic reasons why isn’t it important to preserve other areas in the Gulf region?


I agree that Jefferson Davis was a vile motherfucker, and would definitely be on the top 5 list of worst americans.

However, I still believe his house should be maintained for historical reasons.

Well said. Sweeping our nation’s bad behavior under the rug isn’t going to make it go away. Every step in our history leads to who we are today; even the missteps.

This is a legitimate piece of American history and I don’t have any problem with spending tax monies to preserve it. Similarly, I think it would be entirely appropriate for the German government to preserve Auschwitz as an historical site.

I don’t understand this. Auschwitz (and other concentration camps) have been preserved, though in Auschwitz’s case, it’s preserved by the Polish government.

If we do anything on the federal level to honor Indians who have opposed the US Gov’t through force I see no reason not to also honor J.D.

Arrgh! My mistake. I had always thought that it was in Germany. Of course it’s an historical site in Poland. Thank you for pointing this out. You learn something new every day.

This event happened over a hundred years ago. How do you know about it? Because those who came before you decided not to filter the world for you and sweep Davis under the rug. Massive attempts at re-writing history have been done in the past and future generations have regretted them. 80 Million for restoration of historic homes in the wake of Katrina is really not much at all. I think the best thing that could possibly happen is for the home to be preserved and for mixed-race school groups to visit it and have the laughter of children of all races ring through those halls again, this time laughing at the foolishness of a man who believed such a silly idea as “skin color matters”. Let it stand as a monument to how wealth and power do not make one worthy of respect and deference. This is a lesson many in the US need desperately.


My apologies, I mis-read the article as $80 million for the Jefferson Davis house and that blew my circuit breakers. I can see $1 million or less as be worthwhile to preserve it as a museum.


As a Libertarian, I’m sympathetic to the argument that federally funded preservation of historic sites is an invitation to ladle out the pork.

Given the reality, however, that we have a National Park Service that spends billions on National Historic Sites, I’m not sympathetic to the argument that Davis’ house should be excluded because he was a slaveholding Confederate.

If any of you have been to Mount Vernon or Monticello lately, you will know that these are more than sterile monuments to dead white males. The experience of the plantation slaves is given full play. There are tours of the remains of the slave cabins, interpretive signs discussing daily live among the enslaved, and ranger-led discussions of every conceivable aspect of slavery. For many people (especially older people who grew up before these subjects were emphasized in school), this is the closest exposure to the slave experience that they will have.

The Davis plantation, in particular, offers the opportunity to narrate the fascinating story of Benjamin Montgomery, Davis’ one-time slave who bought his plantation after the war and managed it for ten years, only to see his empire collapse, along with so many African American aspirations, at the end of Reconstruction.

By all means, preserve Jefferson Davis’ house.

I agree. Let’s preserve the house, and put up a big sign: It is important that we retain the evidence of how this vile, traitorous motherfucker lived.