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In Their Own Words

August 25, 1865

Southern Pride Despite Civil War Loss

Despite the dramatic change in her family’s fortunes following the end of the Civil War, Eliza Frances Andrews was unbowed - as this day’s journal entry attests:

“The Ficklens sent us some books of fashion brought by Mr. Boyce from New York. The styles are very pretty, but too expensive for us broken-down Southerners. I intend always to dress as well as my means will allow, but shall attempt nothing in the way of finery so long as I have to sweep floors and make up beds. It is more graceful and more sensible to accept poverty as it comes than to try to hide it under a flimsy covering of false appearances. Nothing is more contemptible than broken-down gentility trying to ape rich vulgarity - not even rich vulgarity trying to ape its betters. For my part, I am prouder of my poverty than I ever was of my former prosperity, when I remember in what a noble cause all was lost. We Southerners are the Faubourg St. Germain of American society, and I feel, with perfect sincerity, that my faded calico dress has a right to look with scorn at the rich toilettes of our plunderers. Notwithstanding all our trouble and wretchedness, I thank Heaven that I was born a Southerner, - that I belong to the noblest race on earth - for this is a heritage that nothing can ever take from me. The greatness of the Southern character is showing itself beyond the mere accidents of time and fortune; though reduced to the lowest state of poverty and subjection, we can still feel that we are superior to those whom brute force has placed above us in worldly state. Solomon says: “Better is a living dog than a dead lion,” but I don’t believe it, even if it is in the Bible.”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-65 (New York: Appleton, 1908), pp. 380-381.