Last week I wrote about Brierfield, the Davis plantation near Natchez, MS. When Jefferson Davis was released from prison in May 1867 he was “a man without a country.” He had no salary or savings and no home, because Brierfield had been seized by Union troops in 1862 and sold in 1866.
Along with thousands of others Jefferson Davis had gambled all and lost all on the Confederacy. He had also lost his citizenship. I was reminded of a book I read in school, The Man Without A Country by Edward Everette Hale about a man named Philip Nolen. You probably remember it too. Nolen renounces his Country during a trial and is sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States.
After the War and the imprisonment, Davis was left with a wife and four children to provide for. He lived in Canada and England hoping to find a suitable job and finally in 1869 he agreed to be President of a Memphis TN life insurance company and lived there until the mid-1870s.
His fortunes changed in 1876 when a longtime admirer, Sarah Ellis Dorsey, offered him a cottage on her seaside estate near Biloxi, MS as a place to write his memoirs of the war. There Jefferson Davis was home at last. He loved Beauvoir and the property became his when Dorsey bequeathed it to him in her will.
During the 1880s he penned his two-volume memoir of the war and he and Varina regained ownership of Brierfield after a long legal battle. Davis undertook extensive traveling, speaking mainly at Confederate veterans’ events. When did he receive his citizenship again? October 17, 1978, posthumously, given by Jimmy Carter. There is another book Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back by Robert Penn Warren which you also might like to read. Carry on! Tomorrow is another day.