An excellent prelude to the well-known wartime diaries of Mary Boykin Chesnut and Emma Holmes, the diary of Keziah Brevard documents one plantation mistress's personal reflections on the events that were to shape both her world and her Southern homeland for years to come: the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina's secession convention, and the attack on Fort Sumter. In 1860 Keziah Brevard was a fifty-seven-year-old widow living nine miles from Columbia, South Carolina, with her slaves as her only companions. She kept a diary to record thoughts and a great variety of matters - from dramatic events of national importance to her management of three plantations and a grist mill. Brevard reacted strongly to the political ferment of the period. Entries during the month of October 1860 were outright assaults on "the rabble of the North." And her words of November 9 showed extreme emotion: "Oh My God!!! This morning heard that Lincoln was elected." The act of secession, however, failed to stir similar passions; nor did the firing on Fort Sumter elicit extensive comment. But her relatively long entries of January and February are quite another matter; during those weeks in early 1861 Brevard wrestled privately with the morality of secession and slavery. In the difficult times of the Old South's twilight, Keziah Brevard had several distinct advantages including a keen mind, shrewd business sense, relatively good health, and substantial financial resources. Her diary reveals a competent, no-nonsense woman capable of successfully leading a large household as well as several business enterprises.
About Keziah Goodwyn Hopkins Brevard
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Published October 1, 1992
by Univ of South Carolina Pr.
Biographies & Memoirs, History, War.