She’s finished a book about women in Washington during the Civil War.
A well known broadcast journalist and writer is coming to Frederick next week. Cokie Roberts, a political commentator with ABC News and NPR, will be at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ on Wednesday, May 11th from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM. She will participate in “An Evening With Cokie Roberts–In Conversation with Elizabeth Cromwell.”
Roberts has written a book entitled “Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington” which tells the story of how women in the Nation’s Capital got through a conflict which tore the country apart.
She says many of these women were journalists, government workers, and wives of political figures in the country, and they didn’t sit on the sidelines during the War Between the States. “Their role shifted as the war progressed, and they found themselves, not only trying to influence the men politically, but also being so distressed at being at what was going on as more and more Americans were killed,” she says.
Some of the people Roberts writes about are Clara Barton, the Founder of the American Red Cross; Dorothea Dix, who lobbied on behalf of the indigent and the insane, and created mental health asylums; and Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln. Roberts says many of these women came to Washington DC during the war to work for the federal government.
Because many of these women were disturbed by the death and carnage from the Civil War, Roberts says they took action. “Creating social service agencies, designed to help the victims of the war, and the formerly enslaved people, who were suddenly emancipated and needed all kinds of assistance,” she says.
Oftentimes, history can repeat itself, and Roberts says she noticed some parallels between our era of partisanship and polarization, and the years before the Civil War. “I’m sorry to say this period before the Civil War is instructive and terrifying,” she says. “It is very, very, very dangerous not to compromise and not to get to a place where everybody can at least live together.”
Roberts has written other books describing the roles of women in US History, including “We Are Our Mothers Daughters,” an account of women’s roles and relationships in American History, along with “Founding Mothers” and “Ladies of Liberty.” “It’s always true that the role that women played is not fully appreciated, and even slightly known. Which is why I’ve been on a mission for years now to correct that,” she said.
When asked what her next project is, Robert responded “I haven’t gotten to the place where I’m really ready to talk about it. I’ll just simply say that the centennial of suffrage is coming up.”
The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote was ratified on August 18th, 1920.