Gatlin, Kali Brinton
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This paper will examine Elodie Todd Dawson and Martha Todd White, two sisters of Mary Todd Lincoln who lived in Selma, Alabama, during the American Civil War. Both were married to Confederate soldiers, Nathaniel Henry Rhodes Dawson and Clement White, and both supported the rebel cause. While many Kentucky families were divided between the Confederacy and the Union, the Todd family was in a unique situation. They were torn between the Confederacy, for which their brothers and husbands fought, and the federal White House, the home of their sister and brother-in-law. Despite their political disagreement, their strong familial bonds were not broken. Residents of Selma, Alabama were not hesitant to openly criticize Abraham Lincoln in front of the sisters. However, they adamantly defended the Lincolns. As a result, the town became separated between regiments, which were fighting for the same cause. The social and politic divisions among the women of Selma would be transmitted to the soldiers through letters, creating rivalries among regiments. Using the Nathaniel Henry Rhodes Dawson Papers archived at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, coupled with other newspaper and secondary sources, this paper will tell the story of how the sisters’ loyalty to the Lincolns divided the town of Selma.