Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 116 / Number 4
"One of the Best Loved, North and South": The Appropriation of National Reconciliation by Lasalle Corbell Pickett
- By Caroline E. Janney, pp. 370–406
In recent years, scholars have acknowledged that LaSalle Corbell Pickett (1843–1931), widow of Gen. George E. Pickett, was largely responsible for transforming her husband's reputation from that of an incompetent officer into that of a Confederate hero. This perspective, however, has led many to overlook LaSalle's most important role: as a central figure in the larger narrative of national reconciliation in the years after the Civil War. Through her own clever positioning, LaSalle evolved into much more than "Mrs. General Pickett," and into much more than an aging Confederate widow. In straddling the worlds of the federal bureaucracy (as a clerk in the pension office), literature (as an author of novels and magazine articles), stage performances (such as Chautauqua and Vaudeville), and veteran reunion culture, LaSalle Pickett simultaneously contributed to both national reconciliation and the Lost Cause. She did so, however, primarily to maintain her own financial and social independence. By the time of her death in 1931, through her voluminous writings and extensive lecturing she had become "one of the best-known women of America . . . one of the best loved, North and South."