Volume 13 of The Papers of Jefferson Davis 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 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 over one hundred manuscript repositories and private collections in addition to numerous published sources in compiling Volume 13.
Lynda Lasswell Crist has edited The Papers of Jefferson Davis since 1979.