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N. B. De Saussure (Nancy Bostick), 1837-1915
Old Plantation Days: Being Recollections of Southern Life Before the Civil War
New York: Duffield & Company, 1909.

Summary

Nancy Bostick (1837-1915) was one of twelve children born to a prominent plantation owner in Hampton County, South Carolina. She was educated at home by private tutors and took music lessons in Charleston, where she met Henry William De Saussure. They married in 1859 and settled in Robertville, South Carolina, a central location from which Dr. De Saussure found it easier to visit patients. During the Civil War, Dr. De Saussure served the Confederacy as a surgeon, first with the Charleston Light Dragoons, and later along the South Carolina coast. While her husband was away, Nancy and her young daughter lived at Nancy's father's plantation, which was close enough to her husband's camp to enable her to visit him relatively frequently. When General Sherman's army swept through South Carolina, Nancy fled their home, which was destroyed by fire. After the Civil War, Nancy Saussure taught at Vassar College.

Nancy Bostick De Saussure wrote Old Plantation Days: Being Recollections of the Days Before the Civil War (1909) in the form of a letter to her granddaughter, Dorothy. In this memoir, De Saussure describes her plantation childhood, her marriage, parenthood, and role as family leader during the war and Reconstruction. De Saussure admits that her mother owned slaves and strongly defends slavery as she witnessed it. She argues that although they were sometimes cruel, most slaveholders were concerned about their slaves' well being and considered them part of the household. De Saussure also details the hardships and struggles her family faced during the war and postwar periods. She says that she even had to ask a wealthy friend in the Bahamas to send them provisions, because they could neither afford nor obtain them at the time.

Harris Henderson

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