Item description for Mary's World : Love, War, and Family Ties in Nineteenth-century Charleston by Richard N. Cote...
Born to affluence and opportunity in the South's Golden Age, Mary Motte Alston Pringle (1803-1884) represented the epitome of Southern white womanhood. Her husband, William, was a wealthy rice planter who owned four plantations and 337 slaves. Her thirteen children included two Harvard scholars, seven world travelers, three socialite daughters, a U.S. Navy war hero, six Confederate soldiers, one possible Union collaborator, a Confederate firebrand trapped in the North, an expatriate bon vivant in France, and two adventuresome California pioneers.
Mary's World illuminates in lavish detail the world and psyche of this wealthy, well-educated, highly-principled nineteenth-century Southern planter's wife. This biography was drawn directly from over 2,500 pages of Mary's unpublished letters, journals and diaries, none of which, she could have imagined, would ever be read by strangers. Therein lies their power.
In her own words, Mary tells us about the joys, sorrows, frustrations, and terrors she and her family faced before, during, and after the Civil War. We also learn about the vastly different lifestyles, food, clothing, and experiences of their 337 slaves. Mary's World also pays special attention to Lucretia "Cretia" Stewart, Mary's favorite servant, Cretia's husband, Scipio, and their free descendants, some of whom worked for Mary's grandchildren well into the twentieth century.
Between 1861 and the Union occupation of Charleston in 1865, Mary and her husband, William, stood helpless as two sons were killed, another was driven insane, their slaves were freed, their entire social class was destroyed. Mary felt that God had forsaken her and the the Confederacy. Unable to adapt to the realities of post-war life, she and William died forlorn relics of The Lost Cause. How they, their children, and slaves lived before the Civil War, clung desperately to life in the eye of the maelstrom, and coped -- or failed to cope -- with its bewildering aftermath is the story of this book. The letters and images they left behind offer priceless insights into the roots of Southern social history.
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Cote studied political science and journalism at Butler University. After serving several years on the staff of the South Carolina Historical Society, he spent the 1980s and early 1990s exploring South Carolina's social history and exotic local microcultures.
Richard N. Cote currently resides in Mt. Pleasant, in the state of South Carolina. Richard N. Cote was born in 1945.
Reviews - What do customers think about Mary's World : Love, War, and Family Ties in Nineteenth-century Charleston?
touching, fascinating, personal view of the Antebellum South Aug 4, 2006
Mary's World helped me to understand life in the Antebellum South and the culture that thrived on slavery. But it also showed the North's response to winning the Civil War, which was anything but forgiving. It was a thrill to see the Miles Brewton House and the St. Michael's Cemetary on my recent visit to Charleston, and to feel the connection with the Mottes, Alstons, and Pringles.
A family of slaveowners. Apr 23, 2005
The book is well written and entertaining. The story was nicely presented around the letters of Mary Pringle. All the similar names of the characters make it a little confusing. A nice reference chart showing the relationship of the characters should be included at the beginning of the book. Did the author hide some things to make the family look better? I wonder. It's hard for a Northerner to muster up a lot of sympathy for this family of slave owners. Perhaps Julius, who likely became a Unionist, was the real hero of the family. It's ironic that the South nearly destroyed our country in the 1860's, but is saving it today.
Mary's World: A Review Jan 14, 2005
In Mary's World Richard N. Cote has succeeded admirably where so many others have tried and yet missed the mark. With his succinct style and exceptional organizational skills he has laid bare the thoughts,emotions and lives of Mary Pringle, her family and their slaves, and done so in a way that has given us a book that is informative as well as enjoyable. By putting their lives into context with the times Mr Cote has given the reader not only the opportunity to learn what they thought and felt but the ability to understand why they thought and felt the way they did. This book will appeal to historians and the average reader alike. It took me only 2 days to read Mary's World and I found myself so absorbed that when interrupted I was momentarily confused to find I wasn't in 19th century Charleston.
A MUST READ Dec 14, 2004
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN ANTEBELLUM CULTURE AND THE CIVIL WAR, THIS IS A MUST READ. EVEN FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T A STUDENT OF THE ERA, "MARY'S WORLD" IS STILL A FASCINATING GLIMPSE OF THE LIFE OF AN ELITE SOUTHERN PLANTER FAMILY. TAKEN FROM FAMILY PAPERS, THE STORY OF THE PRINGLES IS A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THEIR INNERMOST THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.
THE READER GETS TO WATCH WILLIAM BULL AND MARY ALSTON PRINGLE'S CHILDREN GROW UP. BY THE END OF THE BOOK YOU FEEL AS IF YOU HAVE KNOWN THEM ALL. I DREADED FINISHING THE BOOK BECAUSE I FELT AS IF I WAS LEAVING OLD FRIENDS.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND MAKE TIME FOR THIS BOOK. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE AN "ANTEBELLUM-OPHILE" LIKE ME OR NOT, THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK.
Great Book! Dec 7, 2004
I found this book in Charleston on vacation after touring this home. I loved this book! Now I want to visit again because I am so much more invested. I read this book for pure pleasure, and di it deliver! One doesn't need to visit the south to enjoy, the book takes you there. It gives such insight to the era and history the reader gets pulled right in.