Chapter 2
The Spoils of War

THE CONTRAST between the women's quiet world of domesticity and care, and the men's blustery world of power and simmering violence, could not have been clearer in late 1860 and early 1861. Before the war was over, Kate O'Flaherty would, in many ways, be robbed of her innocence.

Kate and Kitty Garesché were enrolled as Sacred Heart day students throughout that tumultuous school year, from September 1860 through May 1861. They were concentrating on the catechism for their first communion, and theirs was supposed to be a time of peace and joy, under the loving image of the Virgin Mary. But already their world was changing, and old ways were crumbling.

"I never went to slave sales, nor do I think Kate ever did," Kitty recalled seventy years later, but slavery was all around them. Ads for runaway slaves filled the newspapers; Dred Scott had started his famous antislavery case at the old St. Louis Court House. Just a short walk from the Sacred Heart Academy, there was a "slave pen," advertising "Negroes available at all times." By the early 1860s, though, many St. Louis households had quietly replaced their slaves with Irish servants. Even Ulysses S. Grant, a West Pointer toiling as a hardscrabble farmer outside St. Louis, freed his one slave in 1859.

But in the 1860 census, Eliza O'Flaherty still owned six slaves. There were three "black" adults (a man, 64, and two women, 28 and 17) and three "mulatto" children (two girls, aged 9 and 6 -- the ones born while Thomas O'Flaherty was alive -- and a six-month-old baby boy). The father of the baby is unknown, but Kate's half-brother George, twenty,


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Unveiling Kate Chopin


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