Extremely high vantage points are usually among the coolest tourist attractions. There can be a powerful thrill in visiting faraway cities and lands, riding stories into the air above them, and getting a bird’s-eye view. Usually we’re talking skyscrapers such as 30 Rockefeller Plaza or One World Trade Center in NYC, Chicago’s Willis Tower, or Baltimore’s World Trade Center. Sometimes they’re natural protrusions such as magnificent Pike’s Peak or Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington. At such places it can feel positively empowering to look down upon all those new surroundings. It’s not quite so endearing to ride up the side of a monolith that looks down upon an entire race and the armies that fought for their freedom.
Presidential sites are a common go-to on our road trips. We’ve done Presidential homes, Presidential gravesites, places where Presidential events occurred, statues of Presidential Presidents, paintings of Presidential winners and wannabes, and so on. Our drive through southern Mississippi on Day Five had given us a closer look at the post-term life of a very different leader — Jefferson Davis, the first and last President of the Confederate States of America, who spent his final years writing his memoirs at Beauvoir. Davis would’ve reigned the entirety of his scheduled six-year term if it hadn’t been for that darn Civil War and all those meddlesome Yankee kids. To his credit, he lasted a lot longer in office than William Henry Harrison and six other full-fledged American Presidents did.
Maybe Davis’ endurance is one of the reasons Montgomery, Alabama, still holds a place in its collective heart for him, as we found on the morning of Day Six. Hence the large statue shown above, which stands tall on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol. Our long walk around this mostly deserted metropolis had turned up a significant number of great moments in civil rights history, among other various commemorative images and places up and down its streets. But Davis and his legacy occupied far more square footage on the official Capitol grounds than any other personage or movement.