Three Weddings and a War
CIVIL WAR WIVES:
The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimké Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant.
By Carol Berkin.
Knopf. 361 pp. $28.95
Historian Carol Berkin has written a trio of compelling biographies that portray the experiences of elite Southern women during the Civil War years. Through the war, emancipation, and its aftermath, these women arrived at very different accommodations to the laws and customs that underpinned both slavery and marriage. Angelina Grimké Weld’s girlhood in a slaveholding family led her to abolitionism and feminism—although not to an egalitarian marriage. Varina Howell Davis’s passionate attachment to the values of...