Archive | January, 2017

Unionists in the Hills: The Arkansas Peace Society

In the large majority of seceding Confederate states, there were pockets of Unionist resistance.  In general, these dissenting enclaves developed in the hilly backwoods areas, where farms were small, slaves few, and citizens fiercely independent.  Some of their inhabitants were against slavery for moral reasons, some were deserters disillusioned with the Confederate Army’s habit of […]

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Imagining Cinderella Bettis Drew

The story told here is only partly imagined.  Something very much like it actually happened, a century later.  The coffee drinker was Saidee’s daughter—my grandmother, Margaret Bennett Barringer— whose life paralleled Cinderella’s in a number of respects. It is 1858. In the dining room of the rented house in Fort Smith, Cinderella and her daughter […]

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Slave or Free? The Saga of the Beams Family

The declining status of free people of color during the 19th century, and the increasing precariousness of their lives, can be seen in dramatic relief in Indian Territory.  Attitudes towards African-Americans, free or enslaved, varied considerably among the “five civilized tribes”— Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles and Cherokees—but as the Civil War drew nearer, the attitudes […]

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