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 Enslaved Chefs Who Invented Southern Hospitality

Black Cooks Created the Feasts that Gave the South Its Reputation for Gracious Living 

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on …

How the Know Nothing Party Turned Nativism into a Political Strategy

In the 1840s and '50s, Secretive Anti-Immigrant Societies Played on National Fears Fed by the Spread of Slavery

Though the United States is a nation built by immigrants, nativism—the fear of immigrants and the desire to restrict their entry into the country or curtail their rights (or both)—has …

The Golden State’s Unpopular Pro-Slavery Governor

The First American Executive of California Was a Pioneering Man of the West—and the South

Peter Hardeman Burnett had probably the most impressive list of achievements of any leader in the early American West. He served on the supreme court of the Oregon Territory and …