Civil War & Reconstruction

Sarah Dickey: Indomitable Mississippi Educator Lesson Plan


Sarah Dickey was a young women in her twenties when she was sent on a mission by the United Brethren Church to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Between 1863 and 1865, she helped operate a school in Vicksburg for newly emancipated slaves. It was during this time that Dickey realized her life’s calling – to teach African American children during one of the most turbulent times in American history. After the war, she enrolled at Mount Holyoke, a female college in Massachusetts known for training teachers.

Sarah Dickey: Indomitable Mississippi Educator

Theme and Time Period

During Reconstruction, one of the most turbulent periods for race relations in the state’s history, Sarah Ann Dickey, a White female teacher from the North, became a pioneer by providing education to newly freed enslaved people in Mississippi. Dickey worked tirelessly and determinedly to improve the lives of the most vulnerable population group in the state, African American women and children. She believed that by educating Black women and training them to become teachers, dual paths of security and opportunity could be established for all freedmen.

The Clinton Riot of 1875: From Riot to Massacre

Theme and Time Period

In 1949, the City of Clinton received one of the first sixty state historical markers. Unfortunately, the tablet portion of the marker has been missing for several decades. Although an updated replacement marker was erected in 2015, the whereabouts of the original remain a mystery. What makes the story of this missing marker all the more intriguing is that it referenced a violent and controversial episode in the city’s past.

Antebellum Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

The 1830s witnessed a succession of profound, and often wrenching, changes that remade Mississippi. At the start of the decade, White settlement was confined to the region between the Mississippi and Pearl Rivers and to another small pocket on the upper branches of the Tombigbee River. Despite the ratification of the Treaty of Doaks Stand (1820), most of the state remained in the hands of the Choctaws and Chickasaws.

Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey: A Woman of Uncommon Mind

Theme and Time Period

Without question, Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey was one of the most intellectually gifted women of Mississippi.  With considerable aplomb, she dealt as best she could with the emotional tensions arising from her lifelong compulsion to balance the conventional female role of the plantation South with a more rigorous life of the mind.  Her heart and soul refused to submit to all the repressive demands that held women in a virtual prison, called hearth and home.  But finding a proper balance between these polarities in the 19th century was scarcely easy.  

Surviving the Worst: The Wreck of the Sultana at the End of the American Civil War

Theme and Time Period

It was late April 1865 and more than 2,000 tired, sick, and injured men, wearing dirty and tattered clothes, filed down the bluff from Vicksburg to a steamboat waiting at the docks on the Mississippi River.

The city of Vicksburg was ravaged by the American Civil War, and so were the men who were about to board the steamboat Sultana. Almost all were Union soldiers who had survived the battlefields only to be captured by Confederate troops and sent to prison camps in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Surviving the Worst: The Wreck of the Sultana at the End of the American Civil War Lesson Plan


On April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana exploded and sank some seven miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. The steamboat was carrying former Union prisoners of war that had boarded at Vicksburg, Mississippi, plus civilian passengers and the ship’s crew. About 1,700 of the approximately 2,400 passengers died in this disaster.

Newton Knight and the Legend of the Free State of Jones

Theme and Time Period

“We Stood firm to the union when secession Swept as an avalanche over the state. For this cause alone we have been treated as savages instead of freeman by the rebel authorities.”

Newton Knight, Petition to Governor William Sharkey, July 15, 1865

Newton Knight was born in 1837 near the Leaf River in Jones County, Mississippi, a region romantically described in 1841 by the historian J.F.H. Claiborne as a “land of milk and honey.” The landscape was dominated by virgin longleaf pines. Wolves and panthers still roamed the land.