Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Kathleen Diffley

First Committee Member

Linda Bolton

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Entel

Third Committee Member

Ed Folsom

Fourth Committee Member

Leslie Schwalm


Bringing Daylight with Them: American Writers and Civil War Washington explores the capital during wartime, a city remade by the thousands of new residents and visitors searching for government jobs, for their loved ones in the city's numerous military hospitals, or for a place to escape the bonds of Southern slavery. Among those who made their new homes in the city were writers - poets, novelists, journalists, editors - who then wrote about their experiences and their new city in ways that helped readers see for themselves what Washington was like during the Civil War. This project examines three of those writers - Elizabeth Keckley, Lois Bryan Adams, and Walt Whitman - who produced drastically different takes on the capital and their places in it. For Keckley, a former slave turned dressmaker to Washington's most fashionable women, including Mary Todd Lincoln, the capital was a labyrinth of power and influence. Learning to navigate it was vital to her status as a business woman in the growing free Black community. Adams, a Michigan poet and journalist, was a correspondent for a Detroit newspaper and a clerk in the Department of Agriculture. Her weekly "Letter from Washington" captured the movement and flow of a city made riotous, while coming to terms with the sacrifices of war and questioning a government's responsibility to its citizens during wartime. While so many writers represented Washington as a temporary space for themselves, as it was for so many who found themselves in the capital during the Civil War, Whitman lived there for nearly a decade, experiencing both the rush of war and what came after. Through a study of his poetry and prose, Washington emerges as not just the government seat but ultimately as a place of personal and professional fulfillment. Bringing Daylight with Them reads both the texts of wartime Washington and the city itself to understand how writers built the capital in the public's imagination.


Civil War, Washington


xiv, 177 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 161-177).


Copyright © 2014 Eve Esther Rosenbaum