In this engrossing and informative companion to her New York Times bestsellers Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty, Cokie Roberts marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by offering a riveting look at Washington, D.C. and the experiences, influence, and contributions of its women during this momentous period of American history.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, the small, social Southern town of Washington, D.C. found itself caught between warring sides in a four-year battle that would determine the future of the United States.
After the declaration of secession, many fascinating Southern women left the city, leaving their friends—such as Adele Cutts Douglas and Elizabeth Blair Lee—to grapple with questions of safety and sanitation as the capital was transformed into an immense Union army camp and later a hospital. With their husbands, brothers, and fathers marching off to war, either on the battlefield or in the halls of Congress, the women of Washington joined the cause as well. And more women went to the Capital City to enlist as nurses, supply organizers, relief workers, and journalists. Many risked their lives making munitions in a highly flammable arsenal, toiled at the Treasury Department printing greenbacks to finance the war, and plied their needlework skills at The Navy Yard—once the sole province of men—to sew canvas gunpowder bags for the troops.
Cokie Roberts chronicles these women's increasing independence, their political empowerment, their indispensable role in keeping the Union unified through the war, and in helping heal it once the fighting was done. She concludes that the war not only changed Washington, it also forever changed the place of women.
Sifting through newspaper articles, government records, and private letters and diaries—many never before published—Roberts brings the war-torn capital into focus through the lives of its formidable women.
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About the Author
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and NPR. She has won countless awards and in 2008 was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and, with her husband, the journalist Steven V. Roberts, From This Day Forward and Our Haggadah.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Meet the Women of Washington, 1848-1856 7
Chapter 2 Jessie Runs for President but Harriet Takes the White House and Mary Jane Reports, 1856-1858 23
Chapter 3 Varina Leads and Leaves as Abby Drops By, 1859-1861 51
Chapter 4 Rose Goes to Jail, Jessie Goes to the White House, Dorothea Goes to Work, 1861 93
Chapter 5 Rose Is Released, Clara Goes to War, Louisa May Briefly Nurses, 1862 153
Chapter 6 Lizzie Reports on the Action, Janet Goes to Camp, Louisa Takes Charge, 1863 197
Chapter 7 Anna Speaks, Jessie Campaigns (Again), Sojourner Visits, 1864 241
Chapter 8 One Mary Leaves, One Mary Hangs, and Lois Writes About It All, 1865 283
Chapter 9 Virginia and Varina Return, Sara Survives, Mary is Humiliated, Kate Loses, 1866-1868 341
Author's Note and Acknowledgments 413
Cast of Characters 419
Illustration Credits 493
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a Cokie Roberts fan, lifelong student of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln worshipper I pre-ordered this book based on an interview on NPR. I found it an enjoyable, interesting read and recommend it to Civil war buffs who are already highly knowledgeable about the Civil War and looking for a new take on well-covered ground. I think it was targeted to this specific reader as opposed to the general reading population with limited knowledge of the Civil War. The reason I am not giving it a higher rating is that I wasn't terribly interested in a couple of the "dames" that we were hearing about, and at the same time, the women I was more interested in were glossed over. I'd have preferred a smaller cast of characters with more in-depth treatment. There was a little too much distance from the main characters. I was also curious as to the source of so many direct quotes that were included, I'd prefer that had been briefly woven into the material as opposed to compiled in a voluminous index at the end that I'm not planning to wade through. I was pleased to see what might have been the first even-handed treatment of Mary Todd Lincoln I have ever encountered. I also appreciated that Jefferson Davis and especially Robert E. Lee were not demonized and given their rightful place in U.S history. I wasn't actually aware of Cokie Roberts' southern roots until I looked it up after I finished reading the book, so I think this is a testimonial to Roberts' objectivity.
I'm so proud of the brave women that sacrificed so much to get through a horrific time in history. It's always fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes. Thai you, Cokie Roberts, for bringing that era to life!
I enjoy Cokie Roberts' writing and this book was no exception. Many known facts were revealed and it was a fascinating read.
Good read if you like civil war history and like learning about the people who shaped history It was very interesting to learn the role women played during this important time in history and their perspective on politics and the changing country Very enjoyable
Love Cokie's books!