Dawson, Warrington and Sarah
Warrington Dawson (1878-1962) was an American historian, editor, novelist, and diplomatic chronicler and reporter; he was also a special assistant to the US Embassy.
He lived in both Charleston, S.C., and Versailles, France. Dawson worked with the American Embassy in Paris and as director of French Research for Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.
Dawson collected a wealth of original documents pertaining to French participation in the American Revolution, copies of 18th century maps of North America, Williamsburg, Va., and positions of the French and American armies in New York and Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Warrington Dawson's research interests included French manuscripts, early American history, and family genealogy.
But he is on the site because of the spiritual experience he had on the death of his mother. The observation is thus about both he and his mother.
Dawson was the son of Francis Warrington (Frank) Dawson (1840-1889), whose original name was Austin John Reeks; and his wife, Sarah Ida Fowler (Morgan) Dawson.
His father was the founder of the News and Courier, a Charleston, South Carolina newspaper.
Dawson’s mother, American writer Sarah Morgan Dawson is best known for her Civil War diary, A Confederate Girl's Diary. Born and raised in Louisiana, Dawson captured her thoughts and experiences of the Union occupation of her home state in diary entries from March 1862 to April 1865.
Sarah was mostly home schooled by learned parents and was the daughter of a fairly well-to-do family in Baton Rouge. When war broke out, she, like many on both sides, felt it would be over in a short while. But life took a turn when she was forced out of her home town, and deprived of most worldly possessions; she truly struggled to exist. Hers was one of the first books that looked at the war from a Confederate point of view.
Sarah Morgan’s diary thus provides a unique look at the Civil War, and an opportunity to understand the social values of the day and how they affected women.
Sarah considered it shameful for a woman to state strong opinions in public, for example, so she filled the pages of her diary with her thoughts and emotions, venting them so that she could 'maintain a proper demeanor.' She never intended anyone else to read what she wrote, so the diary provides an honest and somewhat disarming look into life in Louisiana during the war. “Sometimes venomous, sometimes frivolous, the book gives an honest reflection of the mental and emotional turmoil of a young woman who faced danger, deprivation, and the loss of her home, family members, and her whole way of life.”
After the death of her father, Dawson and her mother settled in South Carolina where she accepted an editorial position at a local newspaper, the News and Courier – the same News and Courier owned by Warrington’s father. They met and they married.
Warrington’s father had done Civil War service before he set up the News and Courier, but he was eventually shot by a man he had gone to confront about various mis-demeanors –including trying to seduce his ward, attempted murder plus a host of other misdeeds.
When Sarah was widowed in 1889, she and her surviving son [Warrington] moved to Paris, where she continued to write until her death in 1909. Although Sarah had asked that her war-time diary be destroyed, her son published it posthumously in 1913.
The strong emotional bond Warrington had with his mother is evident in the observation.
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