Kate Stone’s Civil War: At home again

Stone finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

KS28

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

Nov. 16, 1865

Brokenburn

At home again but so many, many changes in two years. It does not seem the same place. The bare echoing rooms, the neglect and defacement of all — though the place is in better repair than most and the stately oaks and the green grass make it look pleasant and cheerful, though gardens, orchards, and fences are mostly swept away. But if the loved ones who passed through its doors could be with us again, we might be happy yet. But never, never, never more echoes back to our hearts like a funeral knell at every thought of the happy past. We must bear our losses as best we can. Nothing is left but to endure. …

Mamma and Johnny went yesterday to Vicksburg. Mamma hopes to make arrangements for planting next year and will buy indispensable housekeeping articles and replenish our wardrobes, now sadly in need, if she can get the money.

We have by dint of much scrubbing and little furniture made the east room habitable. Mamma, Sister, and I occupy that. So vividly it brings back the memory of dear Aunt Laura and little Beverly that I start at the slightest noise and almost fancy I can see them. Jimmy joined us at Shreveport and brought the intelligence of little Elise’s death, poor, frail little flower. No one could look at her tiny white face and fancy her long for the world. She was a dear good baby.

How still and lifeless everything seems. How I fear that the life at Tyler has spoiled us for plantation life. Everything seems sadly out of time. But no thoughts like these. We must be brave, and to give way to the “blues” now is cowardly. … We think we shall be able to pick up enough of our furniture scattered through the country to make two or three rooms habitable and that must suffice us until better. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The most enjoyable life

Stone finally embraces in writing her Tyler, Texas, community as she and her mother help residents raise money for home Confederate veterans.

KS16

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone finally embraces in writing her Tyler, Texas, community as she and her mother help residents raise money for home Confederate veterans.

It is astonishing, given her vivid condescension to and disdain for Texans recorded in past entries, to see Stone not just befriend Tyler residents but to also dismiss any potential disparagement from her fellow Louisiana refugees.

Note her new friendship with Mollie E. Moore, who will eventually become a celebrated poet and successful writer.

March 3, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Our interest for the last ten days has centered on the all-engrossing theme of tableaux. All the society young folks of the town with Mamma as head and front of the affair are busy getting up an entertainment, tableaux, music, and charades, to raise money for establishing a soldiers’ home. The natives, very unexpectedly, asked us to take part; and as Mamma knows more of such things than all the rest of them put together, she soon found herself sole manager of the affair and I am her [deputy]. I have taken no part but they kindly allow me to attend all rehearsals, and I have had a gay time but for being bored to extremity by Dr. Weir, whom I nearly hate.

We have become acquainted with all the creme de la creme of the city, and from one to a dozen are always dropping in to discuss something or ask Mamma’s advice. I know most of the love affairs of Tyler now. I hope Janie Roberts and Lt. Alexander will make a match. They are very much in love with each other and it would be quite suitable. The young people have rehearsed here several times when it was too bad to go to the church. …

Anna Meagher was asked to play at the entertainment but some feeling of pique prevented her, and they all speak most contemptuously of the whole affair. But we are glad the ice is at last broken, and we are friends with the people of the town. It is far more agreeable, and there are many nice people when one finds them out. Mollie E. Moore, a poetess, is a charming girl and we are becoming quite friends. They live near. The other refugees can laugh at us if they like, but we are having the most enjoyable life. …

Free Love Freefall

The revolutionaries were determined to make lasting changes to the various forms of sexual oppression they perceived. It remains to the current generation to ensure their still-blossoming accomplishments do not wither under cold conservative shadows.

IMG_1475

Allyn’s revolutionaries were determined to make lasting changes to the various forms of sexual oppression they perceived. It remains to the current generation to ensure their still-blossoming accomplishments do not wither under cold conservative shadows.
A review by Fernando Ortiz Jr.

*****

Discussed in the essay:

Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History. By David Allyn. New York: Routledge, 2001. Pp. 381. $30.95

David Allyn’s Make Love, Not War intelligently and creatively tours a sexual renaissance that ebbed and flowed throughout the 1960s and 1970s, sparking changes of varying longevity throughout society. Latino and black Americans fought throughout this era for equal rights as citizens and for the freedom to pursue and fully embrace the American Dream. The general public’s gradual tolerance of public gay culture, the rise of swingers movements, the gaveling of obscenity trials, the publication of sex studies, and the embrace of the birth control pill all comprise for Allyn a sexual rights movement, a “revolution” that silenced some prudes, raised legal eyebrows, and brought America a few sultry steps closer to the fulfillment of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”1

Allyn designates the early sixties to the late seventies as the era of the sexual revolution, and he links its progression to general economic health in the United States. They rise and fall together. He utilizes dozens of interviews with men and women — some identified and some under pseudonyms — thirty years after their revolution takes place. Sexual histories, sociological studies, essays, novels, and academic reports supplement his study of the birth control pill, lesbian empowerment, gay rights, fights over literary censorship, public excitement over sexually-charged theater and film works, nudist colonies, swinger parties, and the general struggle to strip shame away from anyone’s sexual life.

The revolution was a multi-pronged and disjointed effort that lurched toward sometimes unclear objectives. Critics may condemn Allyn’s book for its seemingly disorganized structure, but it actually properly reflects the messiness of a series of efforts to change social mores and personal prejudices. Allyn’s great strength as a writer is his ability to gracefully transition from one theme of the era to another.

If anyone wanted to read a new sex manual to improve their sex life, Allyn argues that the sexual revolution made that possible. If a gay man or woman wanted to add legal sexual escapades at a sex party into their urban lifestyle, the sexual revolution made that available. If upper and middle-class women wanted to control their fertility, swap their spouses with other couples, or find and buy a book filled with sexual imagery, the sexual revolution eased strictures, opened doors, and soothed public outrage. Americans could fully and freely explore their identities, fulfill their aspirations, find their limits, and live their lives. For almost everyone, Allyn explores, the sexual revolution provided the freedom from fear.2

Allyn is enamored with the term “revolution,” which is his theme as his historical tour widens its scope over American society. From the very beginning, Allyn credibly admits the duality of his terrain, of which some aspects “were not revolutionary at all but evolutionary.” The era’s development of the pill, the rise of the sexual book publishing industry, the debates over obscene literature, the stronger roles women secured for themselves in American society — all were inherited from earlier eras in American history, all far from original movements. He admits this duality and does nothing to compensate for its contradictory influence on his narrative structure except pair stories of triumph with stories of eventual defeat or threat.

The era’s legacy is a mixed success of progression and regression, like all revolutions in American history. American society generally accepts the use of birth control and the popularity of premarital sex, though religious leaders and worried parents still frown on the still-expensive pill. Uncensored pornography — from hard-core videos to the soft sensuality of Anais Nin — is ubiquitous in the online world and easily found in the most popular bookstores, though erotica still faces many “family-oriented” enemies. Celebrities, news organizations, the military, scientific organizations, national leaders, and students across the United States embrace homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation, gay rights for citizens and servicemen, gay adoptions, and gay unions. But legal recognition of gay marriages retains its legal and political polarizing effect.3

Not everything can change all at once. Not everyone is won over when new ideas, new bathing suits, new aspirations, and new freedoms dawn over the raucous American society. When it comes to sex, each citizen had to make his or her own personal journey. People change as they grow older. Love and desire bring their own contradictory and revolutionary effects on one’s understanding and acceptance of the world around them. Jealousy, lust, insecurity, and fear can easily disrupt carefully constructed arrangements among sexual partners.

His interviews with the revolution’s participants best capture these intimate journeys. However biased or self-conscious they may be three decades later, Allyn’s interviewees echo the bittersweet afterglow the revolution’s sunset left in their lives. One father remembered his son loudly declaring in an airport terminal that his mother took a shower with a male sexual friend. One humiliated teenager remembers when her sexually supportive father left condoms on every bed in case she wanted to have sex with her male guest. Allyn deserves credit for including the long, dark slopes of the era’s gleaming aspirations for sexual liberation. He mostly maintained his balance between giddy celebration of short-term sexual bliss and grim acknowledgement of the long-term emotional consequences.4

His book’s duality also demands answers to eternal historical questions: Do changes deserve to be considered revolutionary if they are not all long-lasting? Was the sexual blossoming in the sixties an aberration in social values, enough to be considered revolutionary, or was the real revolution comprised of religious attitudes and social frigidity that put in place decency laws, targeted erotic literature, oppressed gay communities, marginalized women, and put shame into the hearts and minds of millions of sexual beings? Perhaps Allyn’s era was simply a counter-revolution, an attempt to take further the romantic aspirations of early twentieth century struggles for gender equality, sexual freedom, a more-just democracy, and fulfilled personal desires. Perhaps Allyn’s era consisted of a series of moments when Americans again grappled with and consummated fundamental American ideals that the original revolutionary generation left their descendants in a different and better America to achieve.

The book’s focus is mostly on urban upper and middle-class Anglo citizens. Blacks, Latinos, and lower-class citizens are not part of this study, which leaves readers hungering for a greater variety of voices and experiences. However, his study is linked to the economic health of the U.S. When the economy worsened in the seventies, the sexual revolution sputtered, which suggests the sexual revolution belonged only to those who could afford its luxurious promise. Impoverished minorities had larger and more immediate problems to worry about — how to feed their children and themselves, where to find work, how to avoid or at least endure an oppressive and heartless society — that they could not be concerned about swinger parties, literary censorship, or lesbian rights.

Overall, Allyn’s conflicted book is a valuable contribution to the study of postwar America. He brings together a detailed examination of various aspects of a sexual renaissance that benefited and benefited from other struggles for other freedoms. The arguments from this era came down — and still do — to eternal American issues: How much equality is necessary to fulfill our founding principles? How much are Americans entitled to? Where does private control — over our bodies, our gender, our children’s education, our moral principles — end and a democratic society’s standards begin? Allyn’s revolutionaries were determined to make lasting changes to the various forms of sexual oppression they perceived. It remains to the current generation to ensure their still-blossoming accomplishments do not wither under cold conservative shadows.


1. David Allyn, Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History (New York: Routledge, 2001), 3-4. Allyn asserts that the every aspect of the sexual revolution “had an impact on how we as a nation have come to think of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
2. Allyn, 4-5.
3. Allyn, 8, 295-296.
4. Allyn, 217, 297-299.
Fighting Irish Wire

Get the latest Notre Dame Fighting Irish football and basketball news, schedules, photos and rumors.

Cadillac Society

Cadillac News, Forums, Rumors, Reviews

Ob360media

Real News That Matters

Welcome to BLU EEAGLE MEEDIA

VOICE OF THE VOICELESS

Space Navy News

Top 10 Live News | Science News and Technology articles from Space.Navy

The Finicky Cynic

Sharp as a needle ~ Scathing as a razor blade ~ Welcome to my world.

Mealtime Joy

bringing joy to family meals

Øl, Mad og Folk

Bloggen Øl, Mad og Folk

a joyous kitchen

fun, delicious food for everyone

A Perfect Feast

Modern Comfort Food

donnablackwrites

Art is a gift we give ourselves

Baked with Lauren

recipes & more

Magpies & Lemonade

daily thoughts, feelings, opinions, and whatever else comes to mind

Beckies Kitchen

MUSINGS : CRITICISM : HISTORY : PASSION

North River Notes

Daily observations on the Hudson River as it passes through New York City. The section of the Hudson which passes through New York is historically known as the North River, called this by the Dutch to distinguish it from the Delaware River, which they knew as the South River. This stretch of the Hudson is still often referred to as the North River by local mariners today. All photos by Daniel Katzive unless otherwise attributed. Twitter @dannykatman

Flavorite

Where your favorite flavors come together

%d bloggers like this: