The Home Front: 1861 to 1865

Children in Wartime

Was there a typical or average Northern woman of that time?

She is even more difficult to describe than the Southern one, because a legend did not grow up around either her clothing or her mannerisms. We have far more diaries and letters from Northern men than women, and even the best-informed men of the time often leave us—the modern-day reader—in the dark. What we can say is that the Northern woman—whether of the city or the country—was no stranger to sacrifice. She had been sacrificing for her husband and children all her life. Here is what Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in 1835, had to say on the subject:

“The same strength of purpose which the young wives of America display, in bending themselves at once and without repining to the austere duties of their new condition is no less manifest in all the great trials of their lives. In no country in the world are private fortunes more precarious than in the United States. It is not uncommon for the same man, in the course of his life, to rise and sink again through all the grades which lead from opulence to poverty. American women support these vicissitudes with calm and unquenchable energy.”


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