March is Women’s History Month so we will be showcasing exceptional Mississippi women and related collections on the blog. This post was written by Marilynn Jones, director of the Manship House Museum.
Mary Belmont Phelps Manship (1862-1898) was an instrumental force in the construction of the Confederate Monument in Jackson, Mississippi. Born in Huntsville, Alabama and educated at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Mary Belmont Phelps and Luther Manship were married in 1881, in Magnolia, Mississippi. Luther Manship, the ninth of fifteen children of Charles Henry and Adaline Manship, was a prominent lecturer who served as Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi from 1908 to 1912. Both Luther and Belmont Manship were concerned for the welfare of the Civil War veterans.
On June 16, 1886, Mrs. Luther Manship and several other concerned women met in the Senate Chamber at the Old Capitol and organized the Confederate Monument Association of Mississippi.1 Their mission was to raise funds for a monument honoring the Confederate dead of Mississippi, to be located on the south Capitol Green, an area that is now the front lawn of the Charlotte Capers Archives and History Building. The first funds for the monument resulted from a concert organized by Mr. and Mrs. Luther Manship that featured a variety of songs and recitations performed by local talent. For several more years, the ladies of the Confederate Monument Association continued their struggle to raise funds, and in 1888 the legislature passed a bill appropriating $10,000 to complete the monument.
The birthday of Jefferson Davis, June 3, 1891, was chosen as the date for the official dedication the Monument. A parade of Civil War veterans, the Mississippi National Guard, officers of the Ladies’ Monument Association, members of the family of the late Jefferson Davis, and other dignitaries, processed from the City Hall to witness the unveiling by Jefferson Davis Hayes, grandson of Jefferson Davis. It was estimated that twenty thousand people from fourteen states witnessed the unveiling of the Confederate Monument.2
For over one hundred years, the Monument has honored the Confederate dead of Mississippi and the efforts of the Ladies’ Monument Association.
Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.
1 John Ray Skates, Mississippi’s Old Capitol: Biography of a Building (Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1990).
2 The Daily Clarion-Ledger, June 3, 1891, Jackson, Mississippi.