JEFFERSON DAVIS STATE HISTORIC SITE
Jefferson Davis State Historic Site is a memorial to the famous Kentuckian born on this site on June 3, 1808. Ironically, just eight months later, and not more than 100 miles away, another great Kentucky statesman was born, Abraham Lincoln. The two men were destined to become Civil War adversaries: Union President, Abraham Lincoln, and Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. Although Davis is most well-known for his service as President of the Confederacy during the Civil War, he was actually a reluctant seccessionist.
Davis distinquished himself as a military and political leader not only during the Civil War, but also as a West Point graduate, Mexican War hero, Mississippi congressman and senator, and Secretary of War during the Franklin Pierce administration.
The 351-foot monument to Davis constructed on this site marks Davis' birthplace and rests on a foundation of solid Kentucky limestone. Our visitor's center features exhibits detailing Davis' political life before and after the Civil War, and offers Kentucky handcrafts, souvenirs, books and Civil War memorabilia.
Ten miles east of Hopkinsville, at Fairview, stands the fourth tallest monument in the United States. It is the tallest poured in place concrete obelisk in the world. The monument is to Jefferson Davis 1808-1889 the first and only president of the Confederacy. The Jefferson Davis Monument State Shrine became a part of the Kentucky State Park System on June 7, 1927. Ironically, fellow Kentuckian and Civil War president, Abraham Lincoln was born less than 100 miles away in Hodgenville.
Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincolns birthplaces being in the same state is indicative of the tragedy of the American Civil War in Kentucky and the nation. The lives of the two men became such a part of the history of the war that they are inextricably joined with each other. In intensity and carnage the Civil War had no equal in American history. Between April 1861 and April 1865 nearly 700,000 Americans perished. For four years Davis presided over the Confederate States of America during this titanic struggle. He guided the new nation from its birth to its demise. As an individual, Davis was at once praised and vilified. To the North he was a traitor and a war criminal to Southerners he became the embodiment of the greatness of the Lost Cause.
The desire to memorialize the leaders and generals of the Civil war began as soon as the guns fell silent. As time passed and many of the major participants of the conflict died, monuments to their memory proliferated. After the death of Davis in 1889, groups and individuals throughout the South began plans to erect a fitting memorial to the Confederacys only president.
At a 1907 reunion in Glasgow, Ky. of the famous Confederate Orphans Brigade, former Confederate general Simon Bolivar Buckner proposed a plan for a Jefferson Davis monument to be erected at his birthplace in Fairview. A group started the Jefferson Davis Home Association and raised money for the monument. By April 1909, the Association paid $7,052 for seven tracts of land containing twenty acres. Within the next eight years $150,000 had been accumulated for a suitable monument. In 1917 work began on the worlds tallest concrete obelisk.
The firm of C. G. Gregg of Louisville designed the monument and oversaw its construction. Americas entry into World War I halted work on the obelisk for several years. By the time construction began again, costs had risen dramatically and the project faced an uncertain future. The United Daughters of the Confederacy raised an additional $20,000 toward completion of the monument and the Kentucky General Assembly appropriated $15,000 to install an elevator originally run by steam in the 351-foot structure. On June 7, 1924, dedication of the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site took place and it became a part of the Kentucky State Parks system.
The monument has a base of 35 feet by 35 feet with 10-foot thick walls at the lower level, tapering to two feet at the top. Construction cost $200.000. The observation windows at the top of monument offer visitors a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.
Open from May 1 to October 31, the Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site is located 10 miles east of Hopkinsville on U.S. 68. There is a gift shop, picnic areas, and a playground.