The Home Front: 1861 to 1865

Women’s Roles

Is there a parallel that can be drawn with the leaders of some other nation?

Yes. In December 1861—when the Civil War was only eight months old—Prince Albert, the beloved consort of Queen Victoria, died of typhoid fever. Prince Albert had, just a few days before his death, been involved in the diplomatic fracas known as the Trent Affair (see page 99). He amended a diplomatic note from London to Washington, D.C., and the tone of his missive allowed Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward to make a more conciliatory reply.

Queen Victoria wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life (she died in 1901). The mention of her husband’s name would usually bring her to tears, and she frequently refused to meet with her prime minister, saying she was under the burden of too much grief. Victoria and Albert had eleven children, nine of whom lived to adulthood, but though her life was filled with family and fun, as well as affairs of state, she remained a “widow” in the fullest, deepest sense of the word.


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