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354CIVIL WAR HISTORY Brugger is certainly critical of Tucker. He sees him as self important, shallow, and devoid of self-criticism. In the end he calls Tucker "an intellectual failure and really not an intellectual at all" because, among other things, he could not distinguish between the study of ideas and their advocacy (p. 204). It would have been better if Brugger had written a book that explored those deficiencies, for in the tension between the ideas of the present and the past lie some of the most valuable historical insights. But perhaps the real truth is that the subject was not quite worthy of the author. Carl N. Decler Stanford University "Journal of a Secesh Lady": The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, 1860-1866. Edited by Beth Gilbert Crabtree andJames W. Patton. (Raleigh: North Carolina Division ofArchives and History, 1979. Pp. xxxvüi, 797. $29.00.) In many ways "Journal of a Secesh Lady" qualifies as the North Carolina counterpart to Mary Boykin Chesnut's famous Diary from Dixie. Like Mrs. Chesnut, Catherine Devereux Edmondston was the literate and articulate wife of a well-to-do planter. Moreover, Kate Edmondston was childless and socially connected to many Confederate leaders, counting among her relations Congressmen Josiah Turner and Henry W. Miller, Lieutenant General Leónidas Polk, and others of influence at the state level. Although she did not have access to die highest level of Confederate leadership, her diary is as voluminous as Mrs. Chesnut's and touches upon nearly as wide a range of topics. The authors of these diaries, however, were dissimilar women. Mary Boykin Chesnut's intelligence and independence of thought shine through in numerous entries in her diary, which is remarkable for its critical, probing comments about the status quo. Moreover, Mrs. Chesnut was an introspective person who had achieved considerable distance between herself and her associates. By contrast, Kate Edmondston was conventional and traditional, took pride in the fact, and seemed never to doubt that what existed was right. About herself she was generally unperceptive and frequently self-righteous. Rather than raising questions about her society, she endorsed it and trumpeted her devotion as a "secesh lady." Consequently, the Edmondston "Journal" is different, but not necessarily less valuable. Though it contains little critical examination of the events it chronicles, it does provide evidence of a frank and adamant planter mentality. The diary does not examine Confederate society, but it faithfully reflects a part of that society, and for this reason it offers many rewards to the reader who brings critical intelligence to bear on its pages. BOOK REVIEWS355 Kate Edmondston was not a typical North Carolinian. Her peculiarities brought much strain to family relationships during the secession crisis, as she alone among her relatives repudiated the beloved Union and voiced strong feelings about Southern rights and Southern patriotism. In exasperation Kate's sister finally told her, "You slave holders have lived so long on your plantations with no one to gain say or contradict you & the negroes only to look up and worship you, that you expect to govern every body & have it all your own way." Indeed, Kate's sister had identified the crux of the matter. The Edmondston diary is a species of planter's diary, and it reveals the planter's mentality. Kate Edmondston's world was her plantation. She and her husband lived a rather simple, isolated, but patterned life there that satisfied them both. She wanted nothing to disturb diat life, with its luxuries and security, her gardening and reading. Her diary contains the complaints common among planters about taxes and the tax-in-kind, impressment, suspension of habeas corpus, and Davis' plan for emancipation. While expecting military valor of other males, she felt unembarrassed relief that her husband, after losing a colonel's commission, never served in the Confederate army. In the pinch Mrs. Edmondston defined national interest by her own personal interest, as did too many Southern planters. Yet the "Journal!' demonstrates that Jefferson Davis' enunciation of Confederate ideology contained great appeal for Kate Edmondston. The peaceful, inactive demeanor of this woman concealed belligerent hostility and condemnation of the Yankees. Echoing Davis' words, she excoriated what she saw as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 354-356
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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