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In reading Dixie’s Daughters by Karen Cox I became interested in not only the United Daughters of the Confederacy but of other Lost Cause driven organizations and their use of media to promote the Lost Cause. The Lost Cause has had more history written about it than any other aspect of the Civil War. While thinking about this, I simply used Google to see if some of the organizations are still around today and what they stand for.

If you Google the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it takes you to a website that automatically plays a message from a Confederate soldier (or so he claims) and states that too many today people today are spreading lies of reasons why the soldiers of the south went to war, states that the Confederacy went to war to fight for its future generations, and asks to help promote the heritage that southerners feel by joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans. If you are a descendant of a southern who served in the military and can prove it (the website has convenient links to help you find the proof they need), you’re in. On the about section of the webpage, you find that if you are a member, you get a subscription to the magazine Confederate Veteran and are eligible to receive scholarships and grants for post-secondary education.[1] There is a research section of the website, which can take you to the SCV’s education papers, written and published by the SCV. One such document describes African-Americans service on both sides of the war, but pays particular attention to blacks that served in the Confederacy.[2] I have added a link to the document here, so you can judge for yourself if it is self-promoting propaganda or not.

The SCV has a Facebook page, and has nearly nine thousand followers and a Twitter, which has nearly 450 followers. On the other side of the coin, if you Google the SCV’s northern counterpart, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and it would appear that there are similarities between both the SCV and the SUVCW, they both grant scholarships. Though it would appear that this membership is not as great as that of the SCV (I was unable to locate numbers of members for both organizations) but if we are to judge off of Facebook and twitter, as we did earlier, the numbers are easy to compare. Fewer than two thousand people like their Facebook page, and they do not have a twitter page and no one is talking about the organization, unlike its southern counterpart. They also do not have as strict guidelines for becoming a member, and no perks like receiving a bi-monthly magazine.[3]

The differences of these two groups are amazing. They both set out to do the same thing, commemorate their fathers and grandfathers of the War, but it seems the SCV is still going strong, while the SUVCW has fallen off the wayside. What, if anything, does this say about the Lost Cause and its teachings about the Civil War even 150 years after the war ended?


[1] The Sons of Confederate Veterans, “What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” http://www.scv.org/whatis.php [accessed on June 21,2012].

[2] The Sons of Confederate Veterans Education Committee, “Black History Month:  Black Confederate Heritage,” Sons of Confederate Veterans. http://www.scv.org/documents/edpapers/blackhistory.pdf [accessed on June 21,2012].

[3] The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, “Membership Eligibility and Application,” http://suvcw.org/member.htm [accessed on June 21, 2012].

I grew up in New Orleans and returned to the Gulf Coast for a tour of duty at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS.  I am very familiar with Beauvoir House and can picture Beach Boulevard and the plethora of historic homes clearly in my mind’s eye.  Unfortunately at the time, however, I did not appreciate the historical value of Beauvoir House and thus never toured the site.  When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in August 2005 I prayed for the cities and friends that still lived there (I had moved to Colorado in 2000) and watched helplessly as the news crews showed the destruction of the places that I knew so well.  Turning at the last minute, ever so slightly, Katrina directed her fury at Biloxi, MS which sustained the worst damage from the storm.  Beauvoir House is located within walking distance of the Gulf shore.  While the main house and the Presidential Library suffered severe damage, they survived.  Five other buildings on the property were decimated.[1]

Beauvoir House was once the retirement home of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  The house was originally built in 1851 by James Brown, a Mississippi plantation owner.  Because of the sand mixed into soil, it was deemed infertile and the property was never turned into a plantation.[2]  When Brown died in 1873, the house was sold to Sarah Dorsey, a long time friend of the Davis family.  Three years later, when Jefferson Davis was visiting the Gulf Coast looking for a place to retire and write his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Davis visited Dorsey who offered to let him stay at Beauvoir House in one of the cottages for $50.00 a month.  Several years later, when she found she was dying of cancer, Sarah Dorsey offered to sell the entire property to Davis for $5500, over the course of three payments.  The first payment was made, but Dorsey died before the remaining could be made.  In an act of goodwill, Davis used the remaining balance to pay off the debts incurred against the Dorsey estate.[3]

The Davis family lived at Beauvoir House until Jefferson Davis’ death in 1889.  Davis had bequeathed the house to his daughter, Winnie.  When Winnie died in 1898, the house was left to Jefferson Davis’s widow.  Just five years later, the property was sold to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans under the condition that it be used to create a Confederate soldiers’ home under the care of the state, with the main house established as a memorial to her late husband.[4]  From 1903 until the last two Confederate widows left in 1957, Beauvoir House operated under the conditions established by Mrs. Jefferson Davis.  The state constructed twelve barracks with six rooms per building for the soldiers and their wives for a total of 288 beds.[5]

I am extremely relieved to find that restoration efforts have restored the main house and parts of the property to its original splendor and efforts continue to rebuild the rest.  Now that I appreciate its historical significance, I do not intend to miss another chance to tour Davis’ home.


[1] Lynda Lasswell Crist, “Beauvoir,” Mississippi History Now (June 2007).  http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/2804/beauvoir (accessed June 20, 2012).

[2] “History of Beauvoir.”  http://beauvoir.org/history.html (accessed June 20, 2012).

[3] “History of Beauvoir.”

[4] “History of Beauvoir.”

[5] “Beauvoir Confederate Soldier’s Home.”  http://beauvoir.org/vetshome.html (accessed June 20, 2012).