Sidney George Fisher, a well-born Philadelphian, kept a voluminous diary during the Civil War era. It is now owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In 1967, Nicholas B. Wainwright introduced Fisher to a wider audience through a handsome edited volume, A Philadelphia Perspective: The Diary of Sidney George Fisher Covering the Years 1834– 1871, which presents selections from the original. This article delves deeper into the unpublished diaries to highlight Fisher’s paradoxical dual rejection both of slavery and democracy. Like Fisher, many Northerners who had long been willing to tolerate slavery turned against it during the war. But Fisher continued to think of African Americans as racially inferior, and he also believed that democracy was “as great an evil as slavery.” Accordingly, he opposed extending voting rights to former slaves, and he wanted to take the ballot away from Irish immigrants. Fisher’s diaries complicate efforts to celebrate the Civil War for advancing values that square with modern sensibilities.


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pp. 29-59
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