J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “plantation”

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 4)

Juliet Opie Hopkins

“Florence Nightingale of the South”

Juliet Opie Hopkins

Juliet Opie Hopkins was a pioneer in the advancement of women at a time when most were overlooked for supervisory positions. Her extraordinary abilities awarded her the position of leadership and power that didn’t exist anywhere else.

She was born on May 7, 1818 at her family’s Woodburn Plantation in Jefferson County, Virginia. Her father owned around 2,000 slaves, which established him in elite society. During her childhood, Juliet was home-schooled, and was sent to Miss Ritchie’s private school in Richmond when she reached adolescence. When she was sixteen, however, her mother died, so she left school to return home, where she helped manage Woodburn.

In 1837, Juliet married Commodore Alexander Gordon of the United States Navy. However, Gordon died in 1849, leaving her a young widow. She remarried in 1854, to a widower who was twenty-four years her senior. Arthur Hopkins was a lawyer and prominent businessman who had served as a United States senator and Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. They adopted a niece, and considered the girl to be their daughter.

When the War Between the States broke out, Juliet sold her estates in New York, Virginia, and Alabama. She donated the money to the Confederacy for the establishment of hospitals. The Confederate military system dictated that each state was responsible for the care of its own patients.

In June 1861, she moved to Richmond and began organizing money and supplies that were sent from Alabama. In August, she set up a hospital for Alabama’s soldiers, and by November, had established a larger second hospital as well. During the November session, the Alabama legislature assumed responsibility for supporting the hospitals and appointed Juliet as chief matron. In the spring of 1862, she established a third hospital, and received the help of 92 women’s auxiliary groups in Alabama who made clothing and collected supplies.

During the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862, she was shot twice in the leg while attempting to rescue wounded men from the battlefield. Her injuries required surgery and left her with a permanent limp.

Although her husband was technically named State Hospital Agent, she was the one in charge. Regardless of her tremendous responsibilities, Juliet found time to personally care for soldiers by writing letters, making furlough requests, providing books, and keeping a thorough list of the deceased. She even collected hair samples from the dead to send to their families, which was common practice at the time.

A nurse in the Third Alabama Hospital, Fannie Beers, wrote about her:

“I have never seen a woman better fitted for such work. Energetic, tireless, systematic, loving profoundly the cause and its defenders, she neglected no detail of business or other thing that should afford aid or comfort to the sick and wounded. She kept up a voluminous correspondence, made in person every purchase for her charges, received and accounted for hundreds of boxes sent from Alabama containing clothing and delicacies for the sick and visited the wards of the hospitals every day. If she found any duty neglected by nurse or surgeon or hospital steward, her personal reprimand was certain and very severe. She could not nurse the sick or wounded personally, for her whole time was necessarily devoted to executive duties, but her smile was the sweetest, I believe, that ever lit up a human face, and standing by the bedside of some poor Alabamian, away from home and wretched as well as sick, she must have seemed to him like an angel visitant.”

In March 1863, the Confederate Medical Department assumed control over all hospitals. Many patients were sent to larger facilities, which prompted the closure of 35 units, including two of Juliet’s hospitals. The third hospital was closed in October, so she moved back to Alabama. Finding supplies scarce, she had the carpets in her Mobile home cut up and used for blankets. She continued her work in Tuskagee and Montgomery hospitals. When the state was invaded in April 1865, she and her husband fled to Georgia.

After the war ended, they returned to Mobile, and her humanitarian efforts became more well-known, making her a living legend.

Judge Hopkins died later that year, so Juliet left Alabama to live on property she still owned in New York City. Because she and her husband had lost most of their wealth, she lived the rest of her life in relative poverty. She died on March 9, 1890 while visiting her daughter in Washington D.C. Scores of veterans attended her funeral, including Confederate Generals Joseph Wheeler and Joseph E. Johnston, as well as Union General John Schofield. Members of the Alabama congressional delegation served as pallbearers. She was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in the same gravesite as her son-in-law, Union General Romeyn Beck Ayers.

In 1987, a marker was finally placed on her grave.

It is estimated that Juliet donated between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Southern cause. She was so revered by her peers that her picture was printed on Alabama Confederate paper currency 25-cent and 50-cent bills. She is a member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.

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67th Anniversary of Disney’s “Song of the South”

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William Faulkner said: “The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past.”
 
The cool winds blew through the Georgia pines during those bitter sweet days of autumn during a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah time in Atlanta.
 
Hollywood in 1946 was a grand year for movies many of which have become classics like:
“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Big Sleep,” and “Song of the South.” that won the 1947 Academy Award for the best song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
 
At the suggestion of the Junior League and the Uncle Remus Memorial Association of Atlanta, Georgia Walt Disney and RKO Pictures agreed to hold the world premiere of Song of the South on Tuesday, the 12th day of November, in the year of our lord 1946 in Atlanta, Georgia. The theater chosen was the Fabulous Fox Theater http://www.foxtheatre.org/ on Peachtree Street.
 
The premiere of “Song of the South” is said to have been inspired by the gala events surrounding the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” that had drawn a half-million people to Atlanta seven years earlier and which the Junior League had also sponsored.
 
Walt Disney http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney  made his introductory remarks for “Song of the South,” introduced the cast, then quietly left for his room at the Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street. It is written that he paced the floor and smoked cigarettes in nervous anticipation of how Atlanta would receive his movie.
 
“Song of the South” put the Wren’s Nest on the map which is the beautiful home of author Joel Chandler Harris located on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., formerly Gordon Street named for Confederate General and one time Georgia Governor John B. Gordon, in Atlanta’s Historic West End District. 
 
Joel Chandler Harris was born in 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia, where he served as an apprentice on a plantation during his teenage years. He was Associate Editor of the Atlanta Constitution where on July 20, 1879; he published “The Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox as Told by Uncle Remus.”
 
Harris lived at the ‘Wren’s Nest’ a Queen Anne Victorian house from 1881 to 1908 and penned many of the Br’er Rabbit tales on the porch. Take a step back in time and join the good folks at the Wren’s Nest for daily tours and storytelling every Saturday at 1 pm.
 
Song of the South is a wonderful collection of stories that includes a blend of live action and animation, based on the popular ‘Uncle Remus’ stories by Joel Chandler Harris. It is set in the Old South after the War Between the States. The story begins with young boy Johnny (bobby Driscoll) who is sent to live on a Southern plantation with his Grandmother (Lucile Watson) while his parents are considering divorce. The movie also stars the wonderful Hattie McDaniel of “Gone with the Wind” fame.
 
Johnny is cheered up by a Black-Southern story teller Uncle Remus (James Baskett) who tells the young boy and other children tales about Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear whose delightful adventures are illustrated in cartoon form. Each story has a morale that Johnny carries into his daily life. 
 
The original book of Joel Chandler Harris is hard to find and the movie’s last release was about thirty years ago. Uncle Remus, please tell us another good story.
 
Country singer Don Williams’ song ‘Good ole boys like me’ begins with….
 
‘When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed, with a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head.’
A good bedtime story for your children and grandchildren might begin with….
 
‘Now, this here tale didn’t happen just yesterday, nor the day before.’Twas a long time ago. And in them days, everything was mighty satisfactual. The critters, they was closer to the folks, and the folks, they was closer to the critters, and if you’ll excuse me for saying so, ’twas better all around’—-Uncle Remus from Disney’s Song of the South.
 
Have a Zippy Doo Dah Day!
 
(Reprinted with Permission)
By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Speaker, Writer of short stories, Author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee.http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth
1064 West Mill Drive, Kennesaw, Georgia 30152, Phone 770 330 9792 or 770 428 0978

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