Slavery and Fanny Kemble’s Journal

Google Books is one of several wonderful resources a click away on the Google home page.  You can find almost any book of any significance printed prior to 1922 there in digital form.  One of them is the Journal of Fanny Kemble, an English actress who married an American on a visit to this country.  When he inherited a large plantation in Georgia worked by slaves, she insisted over his objections on moving there and witnessing the system for herself.  Her Journal, written in the form of letters to a northern friend that were never sent, was the result.  Its descriptions of the squalor and misery of slavery exploded the myth of the “happy negroes” in the antebellum South and, published in England at a critical point in our Civil War, did much to prevent Great Britain from siding with the Confederacy.  A brilliant woman who eventually divorced her husband and took up the abolitionist cause, she analyzed the reasons for the demoralization, not only of blacks, but of their white masters as well caused by the South’s “peculiar institution” with rare insight.  I recommend the book to anyone who wants to get a closer look at the ugly face of slavery than the dispassionate descriptions in history books, or who needs yet one more data point confirming what the Civil War was really all about.  You can find it here.

Fanny Kemble

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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