The Sarcastic Civil War Diarist Who Chronicled the Confederacy’s Fall

Raised in Plantation Privilege, Mary Boykin Chesnut Was Unprepared for the Trauma of War and Defeat

“February 18, 1861…. I do not allow myself vain regrets or sad foreboding. This Southern Confederacy must be supported now by calm determination and cool brains. We have risked all, and we must play our best, for the stake is life or death.”

With that entry, Mary Boykin Chesnut began her diary, chronicling the momentous four years that encompassed the American Civil War. Chesnut’s diary is one of the most significant and intimate sources for understanding the Southern Confederacy. Chesnut and her husband, James Chesnut Jr., moved within the highest …

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The South Carolina Aristocrat Who Became a Feminist Abolitionist

After Moving to Philadelphia and Joining the Quakers, Angelina Grimké Rededicated Her Life to Fighting for Racial Equality

Angelina Grimké’s future seemed clear the day she entered the world. Born a Southern aristocrat in Charleston, South Carolina in 1805, she was destined to become an enslaver; born female, …

The “Little Giant” Who Thought That Backing Slavery Would Unite America

Stephen Douglas' Push to Allow Human Chattel in Nebraska Lit a Match to the Civil War

One of the most ambitious attempts to unite America ended up dividing it, and altering it forever.

At the opening of the 33rd Congress on December 5, 1853, Stephen A. Douglas, …

The Civil War Art of Using Words to Assuage Fear and Convey Love

Soldiers and Their Families, Sometimes Barely Literate, Turned to Letters to Stay Close

Sarepta Revis was a 17-year-old newlywed when her husband left their North Carolina home to fight in the Confederate States Army. Neither had much schooling, and writing did not come …

How Americans Can Stop Fighting the Civil War

Acknowledging Tragic Loss on All Sides Could Begin a Process of Reconciliation

It began as a loving effort to heal the South’s wounds, to properly mourn the young men who gave their lives for a lost cause, and to extract dignity from …