Introduction: "Massachusetts at last has found her voice"

by Elaine Grublin, Head of Reader Services

Letter from Charles Sumner to John A. Andrew, 8 January 1861

Letter from Charles Sumner to John A. Andrew, 8 January 1861

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    On 8 January 1861, as the nation anxiously waited to see if civil war would come, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner wrote to newly inaugurated Governor John A. Andrew, "Massachusetts at last has found her voice." To Sumner, Andrew was that voice, demonstrated in his powerful inaugural address delivered in the Massachusetts State House three days before, on 5 January.

    Sumner's letter is just one example from a variety of documents (including letters, diaries and artwork) in which soldiers, civic leaders, women, politicians, children, and Massachusetts citizens from all walks of life found their voices during the tumultuous years of the Civil War.

    About MHS's Looking At the Civil War web feature

    Beginning in January 2011, as part of the Society's commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial [a web page listing all of MHS's  featured content about the Civil War is available: www.masshist.org/civilwar], each month the Massachusetts Historical Society will mine its rich collections of unique manuscript and visual materials to share voices of the people of Massachusetts as they experienced the war. Each of these monthly web features will showcase one item selected from our collection created in that same month 150 years before. When the project concludes in April 2015, fifty-two items from our collection will tell the story of Massachusetts' role in the Civil War in an online exhibition.

    Credits

    Elaine Grublin, Peter Drummey, Nancy Heywood, Laura Wulf, Bill Beck, Oona Beauchard, Mary Fabiszewski, Maureen Richard, Timothy Holt, Melanie Leung, Sabina Beauchard, Brooke McManus, Bethany Hirsch, Liz Francis, Zachary Reisch, Caitlyn DeFiore, and Warren Lent.