From May 27 to October 12, 1865, while imprisoned by the Union army, the Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens confided to the pages of a journal his struggle between extraordinarily rich inner resources of mind and spirit and a harrowingly uncertain existence fraught with illness, deprivation, isolation, despondency, and humiliation. For Stephens, the journal—which he would not allow to be published while he was alive—may have manifested his severest trial and his utmost success in perseverance and good humor.
Ben Forkner’s introduction to this new edition of Myrta Lockett Avary’s 1910 publication offers fresh and fetching consideration of Stephens’ prison diary both as a reflection of the American Republic that disappeared in the Civil War and as a profoundly personal statement revelatory of the character and principles that won Stephens respect from southerners and northerners alike.
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