Julia Dent Grant

Wife of General and President Ulysses S. Grant Julia Boggs Dent was born January 26, 1826 at White Haven plantation near St. Louis, Missouri, the fifth of seven children. Her parents were Frederick and Ellen Dent, who owned about thirty black slaves; they refused to free them only when the law required it. From about 1831 through 1836, Julia attended the Misses Mauros’ co-ed, one-room boarding school in St. Louis. Growing up at White Haven, she fished, rode horses, and played in the woods. Image: First Lady Julia Dent Grant, 1870 Julia Dent met Ulysses S. Grant, whom she called ‘Ulys,’ who was a classmate of her brother Frederick at West Point; she was soon head-over-heels for Grant and agreed…

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Civil War Vivandieres

Typical Uniform of a Zouave Vivandiere Vivandieres first appeared in France as women who were part of a regiment and sold spirits (an alcoholic drink) and other items and cared for the sick. These women wore uniforms similar to that of the regiment in which they served, and they displayed great courage by giving immediate medical assistance to the wounded in the midst of battle. When the Civil War began in 1861, hundreds of American women were ready to brave those same conditions for the Union Army. Uniforms of vivandieres in the American Civil War varied from regiment to regiment. All had in common a knee-length skirt worn over full trousers, a tunic or jacket, and a hat. This style…

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Diaries of Fredericksburg Women

Civil War Diarists of Fredericksburg, Virginia Fredericksburg, Virginia was occupied on three separate occasions by Union forces. These ‘invasions’ had an impact on the townspeople. The diaries of Fredericksburg residents allow us to experience their anxiety and fear toward enemy armies, as well as the loss of loved ones and the damage or destruction of homes and personal property. Lizzie Alsop in 1862 Elizabeth Maxwell Alsop Elizabeth (Lizzie) Maxwell Alsop began writing her Civil War diary in 1862. She was the sixteen-year-old daughter of Sarah and Joseph Alsop, who lived at what is today 1201 Princess Anne Street in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her father was one of the richest members of the Fredericksburg community; a large part of his wealth consisted…

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Hannah Forster Sumner

Wife of Union General Edwin Vose Sumner Early Years and Marriage Hannah Wickersham Forster was born January 31, 1804 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Edwin Vose Sumner was born in Boston, Massachusetts January 30, 1797 and entered the United States army as a career soldier in 1819. He fought in the Black Hawk War (1832) and various campaigns against Native Americans, and with distinction in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). General Edwin Vose Sumner and His Civil War Staff Sumner and his son Brigadier General Edwin V. Sumner Jr. are knee-to-knee in the center of this colorized image. Seventeen-year-old Hannah Wickersham Forster, daughter of an army officer, married Edwin Vose Sumner March 31, 1832 in Sackets Harbor, New York. The couple had six…

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Abolitionist and Author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe published more than 30 books, but it was her best-selling antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that brought her worldwide fame and a very secure place in history. She also wrote biographies, children’s text books, and advice books on homemaking and childrearing. The informal style of her writing enabled her to reach audiences that more scholarly works would not. Early Years Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut to the Rev. Lyman Beecher and Roxanna Foote Beecher; the sixth of 11 children. She was called Hattie by her brothers and sisters. Roxanna Beecher died when Harriet was only five years old, and her oldest sister Catharine became…

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The Fighting 69th

A Regiment in the Famous Irish Brigade When the Civil War broke out, thousands of Irishmen joined the Union Army. Three all-Irish infantry regiments were raised in New York City, and these units would become the core of the Irish Brigade: the 63rd, 69th, and 88th Infantry Regiments, New York State Volunteers. Confederate General Robert E. Lee gave them the nickname ‘Fighting 69th’; that designation continued in later wars. General Thomas Meagher and the Irish Brigade, Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 2, 1862 The Fighting 69th’s battle flag appears next to the U.S. flag. Fighting 69th, the Paintings In 1991, artist Mort Kunstler had accepted a commission from the U.S. Army War College to paint Raise the Colors and Follow Me!, which…

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Harriet Morrison Irwin

Harriet Morrison Irwin (1828-1897) of Charlotte, North Carolina holds a special place in American history as the first woman to patent an architectural design. The structure she created in 1869 was a hexagonal house. She and her husband built at least one version in Charlotte, and she may have designed other hexagonal houses. In addition to her work in architecture, Irwin wrote primarily nonfiction articles related to history and progress. This 1949 image shows Harriet Morrison Irwin’s two-story hexagonal house on the right. West Fifth Street looking toward the intersection of Irwin Avenue in Charlotte. Early Years Harriet Abigail Morrison was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1828 to Mary Graham Morrison and Dr. Robert Hall Morrison – founder and…

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The Forten Sisters

The Forten Women of Philadelphia The Fortens were one of the most prominent black families in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Wealthy sailmaker James Forten and his wife Charlotte Vandine Forten headed the family; their daughters were: Margaretta, Harriet, and Sarah. The Fortens were active abolitionists who took part in founding and financing at least six abolitionist organizations. The Forten sisters were educated in private schools and by private tutors. Image: Sisters by Keith Mallett Margaretta Forten (1806-1875) Margaretta was an African American abolitionist and suffragist. She worked as a teacher for at least thirty years. During the 1840s she taught at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass; in 1850 she opened her own school. Margaretta never married and lived with her…

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Rebecca Pennell

Pioneer for Women’s Equal Rights Rebecca Pennell in early years Early Years When Rebecca Pennell, born in 1821, was four years old, her father died and her mother moved back to her childhood home in Franklin, Massachusetts. Rebecca’s mother was the sister of the prominent educational reformer Horace Mann and had a strong relationship with him. Mann took a particular interest in the education of his nieces and nephew after their father’s death, and provided them with financial support. Rebecca remembered Mann as a loving figure during her childhood years, someone she and her siblings admired. Women’s Education in the 19th Century The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were a time of great change in terms of the evolving…

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Underground Railroad in Massachusetts

Jackson Homestead The Jackson homestead is a Federalist-style house at 527 Washington Street in Newton, Massachusetts was built in 1809. William Jackson was an abolitionist who allowed runaway slaves to take shelter there. Image: The Jackson family in 1846