Celebrated for her courageous exploits as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman has entered history as one of nineteenth-century America's most enduring and important figures. But just who was this remarkable woman? To John Brown, leader of the Harpers Ferry slave uprising, she was General Tubman. For the many slaves she led north to freedom, she was Moses. To the slaveholders who sought her capture, she was a thief and a trickster. To abolitionists, she was a prophet. Now, in a biography widely praised for its impeccable research and its compelling narrative, Harriet Tubman is revealed for the first time as a singular and complex character, a woman who defied simple categorization.More info →
“This engaging, wonderfully written narrative provides fresh insight into this complex woman. It is a triumph.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin
Catherine Clinton, author of the award-winning Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, returns with Mrs. Lincoln, the first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Called “fascinating” by Ken Burns and “spirited and fast-paced” by the Boston Globe, Mrs. Lincoln is a meticulously researched and long overdue addition to the historical record. In the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis, Mrs. Lincoln “is distinctive for its abiding sanity, its deft and in-depth handling of the White House years, and for the consistent quality of its prose.”More info →
A British stage star turned Georgia plantation mistress, Fanny Kemble is perhaps best known as America's most unlikely abolitionist, whose passionate writings against human bondage made her a heroine of the Union cause. Irrepressible in word and deed, Kemble captured the imaginations of many famous Americans of the antebellum era. Walt Whitman was held spellbound at one of her early New York City stage performances, rhapsodizing: "Fanny Kemble! Name to conjure up great mimic scenes withal -- perhaps the greatest! Nothing finer did ever stage exhibit." Henry James predicted that Fanny Kemble's literary gifts would "make her what I call historic," and abolitionist Catharine Sedgwick enthused: "She is a most captivating creature, steeped to the very lips in genius." By the mid-1830s, American society was firmly in the grip of Kemble's celebrity. A tulip was named in her honor. Young ladies adopted "Fanny Kemble curls" and donned "Fanny Kemble caps." Harvard undergraduates smeared themselves with molasses to fend off rivals for scarce tickets to her performances, and lecture attendance fell off so sharply on the afternoons of Kemble's matinees that Harvard faculty threatened to cancel classes. In a fit of passion, one smitten suitor rented the horse Niagara so that he could be astride the mount Kemble had once ridden. Her private life, however, was the stuff of tabloids for different reasons. She married, for love, Pierce Butler -- a Philadelphia native and heir to a Georgia plantation fortune -- but the union soon turned bitter. In her correspondence, Kemble derisively referred to her husband as "my lord and master," and tried to run away from the couple's Philadelphia homeafter just four months of marriage. This defiant behavior fueled public scandal, which reached an incendiary peak in 1835, when Kemble published her "Journal of Residence in America." The book not only aired Kemble's controversial views on slavery but launched a satirical send-up of American society, which Butler maintained would bring shame on their friends and family. The book became an instant bestseller and left New York City "in an uproar." Kemble's name became permanently linked to the issue of slavery when, in 1863, she published her most famous volume, "Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation." "I think I should die if I had to live here," Kemble confessed after a season on the Butler lands, and her journal of those days hauntingly records the "simple horror and misery" she saw as the plight of the slaves. The raw power of her words made for a powerful antislavery tract, which influenced European sentiment toward the Union cause. Passages were read aloud on the floor of the House of Commons and to cotton workers in Manchester, and the book was embraced by Northern critics as "a permanent and most valuable chapter in our history" "(Atlantic Monthly)." In "Fanny Kemble's Civil Wars," we learn how this fascinating figure lived up to her pledge: "[I]t was an imperative duty, knowing what I know, and having seen what I have seen, to do all that lies in my power to show the dangers and the evils of this frightful institution." Bringing to bear the tools of both history and biography, Catherine Clinton reveals how one woman's life reflected in microcosm the public battles -- over slavery, the role of women, sectionalism -- that fueled our nation's greatest conflict andhave permanently marked our history.More info →
One of the most compelling personal narratives of the Civil War, Mary Chesnut's Diary was written between 1861 and 1865. As the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and the wife of an aide to the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, Chesnut was well acquainted with the Confederacy's prominent players and-from the very first shots in Charleston, South Carolina-diligently recorded her impressions of the conflict's most significant moments. One of the most frequently cited memoirs of the war, Mary Chesnut's Diary captures the urgency and nuance of the period in an epic rich with commentary on race, status, and power within a nation divided.More info →
This pioneering study of the much-mythologized Southern belle offers the first serious look at the lives of white women and their harsh and restricted place in the slave society before the Civil War. Drawing on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of hundreds of planter wives and daughters, Clinton sets before us in vivid detail the daily life of the plantation mistress and her ambiguous intermediary position in the hierarchy between slave and master.
"The Plantation Mistress challenges and reinterprets a host of issues related to the Old South. The result is a book that forces us to rethink some of our basic assumptions about two peculiar institutions -- the slave plantation and the nineteenth-century family. It approaches a familiar subject from a new angle, and as a result, permanently alters our understanding of the Old South and women's place in it.More info →
Cutting through romantic myth, this captivating volume combines period photographs and illustrations with new documentary sources to tell the real story of southern women during the Civil War.
Drawing from a wealth of poignant letters, diaries, slave narratives, and other accounts, Catherine Clinton provides a vivid social and cultural history of the diverse communities of Southern women during the Civil War: the heroic African-American women who struggled for freedom, the tireless nurses who faced gruesome duties, the intriguing handful who donned uniforms, and those brave women who spied and even died for the Confederacy.
Photographs, drawings, prints, and other period illustrations bring this buried chapter of Civil War history to life, taking the reader from the cotton fields to the hearthsides, from shrapnel-riddled mansions to slave cabins. Clinton places these women within the context of war, illuminating both legendary and anonymous women along the way.
Tracing oral traditions and Southern literature from Reconstruction through our era, the author demonstrates how a deadly mix of sentiment and fabrication perpetuates tales of idyllic plantations inhabited by benevolent masters and contented slaves. The book concludes with Clinton's perceptive and often witty discussion of how, over the years, we continue to embrace mythic figures like Scarlett and Mammy in aspects of popular culture ranging from Hollywood epics to pancake syrup.More info →
No American needs to be told that the Civil War brought the United States to a critical juncture in its history. The war changed forever the face of the nation, the nature of American politics, the status of African-Americans, and the daily lives of millions of people. Yet few of us understand how the war transformed gender roles and attitudes toward sexuality among American citizens. Divided Houses is the first book to address this sorely neglected topic, showing how the themes of gender, class, race, and sexuality interacted to forge the beginnings of a new society.
In this unique volume, historians Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber bring together a wide spectrum of critical viewpoints--all written by eminent scholars--to show how gender became a prism through which the political tensions of antebellum America were filtered and focused. For example, Divided Houses demonstrates that the abolitionist movement was strongly allied with nineteenth-century feminism, and shows how the ensuing debates over sectionalism and, eventually, secession, were often couched in terms of gender. Northerners and Southerners alike frequently ridiculed each other as "effeminate": slaveowners were characterized by Yankees as idle and useless aristocrats, enfeebled by their "peculiar institution"; northerners were belittled as money-grubbers who lacked the masculine courage of their southern counterparts.
Through the course of the book, many fascinating subjects are explored, such as the new "manly" responsibilities both black and white men had thrust upon them as soldiers; the effect of the war on Southern women's daily actions on the homefront; the essential part Northern women played as nurses and spies; the war's impact on marriage and divorce; women's roles in the guerilla fighting; even the wartime dialogue on interracial sex. There is also a rare look at how gender affected the experience of freedom for African-American children, a discussion of how Harriet Beecher Stowe attempted to distract both her readers and herself from the ravages of war through the writing of romantic fiction, and a consideration of the changing relations between black men and a white society which, during the war, at last forced to confront their manhood. In addition, an incisive introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson helps place these various subjects in an overall historical context.
Nowhere else are such topics considered in a single, accessible volume. Divided Houses sheds new light on the entire Civil War experience--from its causes to its legacy--and shows how gender shaped both the actions and attitudes of those who participated in this watershed event in the history of America.
Over a decade ago, the publication of Divided Houses ushered in a new field of scholarship on gender and the Civil War. Following in its wake, Battle Scars showcases insights from award-winning historians as well as emerging scholars. This volume depicts the ways in which gender, race, nationalism, religion, literary culture, sexual mores, and even epidemiology underwent radical transformations from when Americans went to war in 1861 through Reconstruction. Examining the interplay among such phenomena as racial stereotypes, sexual violence, trauma, and notions of masculinity, Battle Scars represents the best new scholarship on men and women in the North and South and highlights how lives were transformed by this era of tumultuous change.More info →
Henry James called Fanny Kemble's autobiography "one of the most animated autobiographies in the language." Born into the first family of the British stage, Fanny Kemble was one of the most famous woman writers of the English-speaking world, a best-selling author on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to her essays, poetry, plays, and a novel, Kemble published six works of memoir, eleven volumes in all, covering her life, which began in the first decade of the nineteenth century and ended in the last. Her autobiographical writings are compelling evidence of Kemble's wit and talent, and they also offer a dazzling overview of her transatlantic world.
Kemble kept up a running commentary in letters and diaries on the great issues of her day. The selections here provide a narrative thread tracing her intellectual development—especially her views on women and slavery. She is famous for her identification with abolitionism, and many excerpts reveal her passionate views on the subject. The selections show a life full of personal tragedy as well as professional achievements. An elegant introduction provides a context for appreciating Kemble's remarkable life and achievements, and the excerpts from her journals allow her, once again, to speak for herself.More info →
Near the end of her classic wartime account, Susie King Taylor writes, "there are many people who do not know what some of the colored women did during the war." For her own part, Taylor spent four years—without pay or formal training—nursing sick and wounded members of a black regiment of Union soldiers. In addition, she worked as a camp cook, laundress, and teacher. Written from a perspective unique in the literature of the Civil War, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp not only chronicles daily life on the battlefront but also records interactions between blacks and whites, men and women, and Northerners and Southerners during and after the war.Taylor tells of being born into slavery and of learning, in secret, to read and write. She describes maturing under her wartime responsibilities and traveling with the troops in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. After the war, Taylor dedicated herself to improving the lives of black Southerners and black Union Army veterans. The final chapters of Reminiscences are filled with depictions of the racism to which these efforts often exposed her.
This volume reproduces the text of the original 1902 edition. Catherine Clinton's new introduction provides historical context for the events that form the backdrop of Taylor's memoir, as well as for the problems of race and gender it illuminates.More info →
A lively, comprehensive account of the struggle for women's rights at a vital time in our national history.
The American women who worked for our country's indepence in 1776 hoped the new Republic would grant them unprecedented power and influence. But it was not until the next century that a hardy group of pathbreakers began the slow march on the road to autonomy, a road American women continue to travel today. When The Other Civil War was first published in 1984, it was hailed as a thought-provoking narrative of women's lives, among the first books to bring together the new accomplishments of the then-infant discipline of women's history. This revised edition offers a thoroughly updated bibliography, including not only new books and articles but also Internet sources from the past fifteen years of innovative scholarship.More info →
Long relegated to the margins of historical research, the history of women in the American South has rightfully gained prominence as a distinguished discipline. A comprehensive and much-needed tribute to southern women’s history, Half Sisters of History brings together the most important work in this field over the past twenty years.
This collection of essays by pioneering scholars surveys the roots and development of southern women’s history and examines the roles of white women and women of color across the boundaries of class and social status from the founding of the nation to the present. Authors including Anne Firor Scott, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, and Nell Irwin Painter, among others, analyze women’s participation in prewar slavery, their representation in popular fiction, and their involvement in social movements. In no way restricted to views of the plantation South, other essays examine the role of women during the American Revolution, the social status of Native American women, the involvement of Appalachian women in labor struggles, and the significance of women in the battle for civil rights. Because of their indelible impact on gender relations, issues of class, race, and sexuality figure centrally in these analyses.
Half Sisters of History will be important not only to women’s historians, but also to southern historians and women’s studies scholars. It will prove invaluable to anyone in search of a full understanding of the history of women, the South, or the nation itself.
Contributors. Catherine Clinton, Sara Evans, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Jacqueline Jones, Suzanne D. Lebsock, Nell Irwin Painter, Theda Perdue, Anne Firor Scott, Deborah Gray White