“Oh, that I was a man!”

The South Carolina Historical Society published its Spring 2009 Carologue.  Shannon Hungerford’s summary of Mary Boykin Chesnut’s diaries is featured on pages 20-23.

Hungerford, a candidate for a History Master’s candidate with The Graduate School of the College of Charleston, writes that Chesnut was not your typical Southern Belle.  As a childless wife whose in-laws owned and managed the plantation, Chesnut was free to travel with her husband and by herself.  More, because of her father’s political stance and her husband’s career as a state senator and aide to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Chesnut recorded her opinions about public politics in her diary.

While she “recorded her pride in her own personal charm,” she also attacked “the patriarchal system instead of herself” which made her so different from other southern womens’ diaries.

“Mary Boykin Chesnut should be remembered as the individual she was: an uncommon southern belle who experienced strikingly distinct circumstances, and from them developed a distinct talent for social perception in a time when women were not seen as perceptive or political.  In her own words, she was truly ‘a rebel born.'”

To receive a copy of this article, contact Katherine W. Giles at 843.723.3225 or visit The South Carolina Historical Society online at www.schsonline.org.

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