The diary of Ellen Wallace is a well-known primary source to historians of the Civil War in the Kentucky, to scholars of women’s’ studies, and recently to scholars of race. In her diary, the wealthy slave-owning citizen of Hopkinsville reveals personal feelings that exemplify an important aspect of Kentucky’s unique position during the Civil War; like many Kentuckians, Mrs. Wallace begins the war conditionally pro-Union and over the course of time becomes clearly pro-Confederate. What happened over these four years of war to cause such a shift? The answer is her fear of racial equality. The mere idea of black equality was enough to make many white faces sneer, but in Southern climes, the idea of black freedom terrified whites and, ultimately, led to Kentucky’s shift toward the Confederacy.
Up until the end of 1862, Wallace did not express strong feelings against the Union. Though initially preoccupied with the war’s disruption of society and economics, it was on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that Wallace began to waver in her support of the Union. She believed the proclamation would release not only the bodies of the slaves, but their depraved nature as well: “Ky. filled with hostile armies[,] war and blood shed on every hand and from every quarter, with Lincolns emancipation proclamation to add new horrors to the scene.” Wallace saw the Proclamation as, “not a military necessity, but [something that] procedes from the vileness[,] weakness & corruption, of this, base, contemptible, negro equality, negro loving administration.” Wallace, like most Kentuckians, feared the Proclamation because it would completely rearrange the political, economic, and social setting of her hometown, her state, the region, and the nation in general.
Ellen Wallace was a keen observer of the shift in political power. She indignantly noted that the Emancipation Proclamation was “the protection the Federal government extends to, Kentucky, the only border state that did not pass the ordinance of secession,” and calls it, “a burning Shame to Lincoln, the cabinet, and officers of the army.” Naturally, “servile insurrection will be the consequence unless the strong arm of the nation prevents it, and the blood of helpless women and children will flow in torrents, if his [Lincoln’s] wicked and fanatical policy is not over ruled.” On many occasions Wallace described the humiliation whites, and particularly slave-owners, felt as they perceived their political power slowly being given to blacks: “The president and his cabinet think of nothing but the negro, negro, negro”, “the interests of the white man is nothing compared to that of the Negro. There seems to be but one thing in the head of Lincoln and his cabinet and that is the liberation of the slaves, at the cost of every thing held sacred by the white race. All must give way to the superior rights of the Negro.” Wallace believed by giving blacks some power to control their own lives, that Lincoln had “made the negro master of the white man, as far as his power allows putting arms in their hands, stationing negro pickets at the toll gates, and bridges, where they defy their former masters to pass on peril of their lives. The white man has to turn his horses head and obey Lincolns negro troops with clenched teeth.”
Economically speaking, the way the Emancipation Proclamation was interpreted by both blacks and whites had a noticeable impact. Wallace noted the downturn in production as many slaves fled their plantations for freedom: “what few slaves remain do just as they please[,] fine grain fields given up…Mr. Wallace’ negroes with the escalation of two, are still with him & have planted a large crop of tobaco but we are looking for them to leave daily not that they wish to go if left to themselves…but the pressure from the abolitionist is so strong that I fear they cannot resist it long.” A few months later she noted, “What we have so much dreaded has at last occured. Hopkinsville is now a recruiting rendezvous for negroes a number enlisted to day coming in from the plantations leaving the tobaco crop to take care of its self.”
The social consequences of emancipation were Ellen Wallace’s primary concern during the war. In the beginning, Wallace feared the violence of slave uprising: “The patrols has to be very vigilant and watchful in the country. And if it were not that there is several militia companies stationed here at this time none of us could lay down at night with out a shudder at what might happen before many St. Domingo over again.” Or, “all the U.S. forces left to day for Boling Green except one company and the sick. The forces left are scarcely enough left for a town guard or to protect the citizens against gurillar or servile insurrection. There is news here this evening of an insurrection of the slaves in South Carolina which we hope is false.” These fears expanded once blacks were admitted into the Union army. Wallace was dyspeptic: “this negro insolence is the effect of Lincoln’s damnable black republican policy. I think if affairs go on as they have been doing, the white women in town and country will find it necessary to carry daggers and revolvers in their girdles in place of pin cushions & scissors…as I walk through the street I could easily imagine that I was in some foreign country…Negroes passing on horse back in squads of three or four yelling and laughing as they prance along on fine horses, as if they had in reality changed places with the white man.”
Wallace was convinced emancipation would be harmful to blacks. She believed the old social order was better: “two [Union] soldier[s] came in for breakfast, they were for freeing all the slaves, poor ignorant wretches, they know not what they do. The great mass of negroes are better provided for and happier than the poorer classes of Yankydom or Europe.” Furthermore, she believed, “the poor Negro is the innocent victim of this war. They are departed from their homes by promises of freedom and then left to starve and die with out shelter or any earthly comfort in the most miserable manner by thousands and tens of thousands. This is the effect of Lincoln [‘s] infamous proclamation…its effect at the present time on that race are deplorable indeed.” She thought blacks misunderstood and would not be able to handle their transition to freedom: “their idea of freedom is to have all the luxuries & comforts of the wealthy whites & no work. They scorn the lot of the poor laboring white man.”
To conclude, in Wallace’s eyes the end of slavery was a politically, economically, and socially catastrophic event. It was too much for Kentuckians like her to bear when Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation destroyed “that confidence and trust that formerly existed between master and slave while it creates suspicion on the part of the owner, and insolence on the part of the servant[.]” This kind of thinking allowed Kentucky to side with the rest of the South on issues of race, before, during, and long after the Civil War.
 Anne E. Marshall, Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); Amber C. Nicholson, “Border State, Divided Loyalties: The Politics of Ellen Wallace, Kentucky Slave owner, During the Civil War” (Masters Thesis, University of New Orleans, 2011).; Jack Glazer, Been Coming Through Some Hard Times: Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2013).
 Ellen Wallace diary, Oct. 10, 1862, Ellen Wallace and Annie Starling Diaries, MSS 52, Kentucky Historical Society.
 July 3, 1864.
 October 3, 1862, underlining is original.
 December 14, 1862.
 February 17, 1863.
 December 25, 1863, underlining is original.
 July 3, 1864.
 September 18, 1864.
 January 1, 1863.
 February 14, 1863.
 January 28, 1864.
 November 9, 1862.
 November 12, 1863.
 February 20, 1864.
 November 18, 1863.