For background on this interview read this post.
The Old South versus The New South
GDV: Mrs. De Saussure [pronounced DES-suh-sore], how do you see the South now, forty years since the Civil War?
NBD: The South as I knew it has disappeared; the New South has risen from its ashes, filled with the energetic spirit of a new age.
GVD: So those days were . . . ?
NBD: . . . the happy plantation days, the recollection of which causes my heart to throb again with youthful pleasure, and near them are the days, the dreadful days, of war and fire and famine.
The de Saussure Family
GVD: We’ve heard your great-grandmother was a special woman. Tell us about her.
NBD: My great-grandmother’s eldest son, at nineteen, was a captain in the Revolutionary War, and she was left alone, a widow on her plantation. When the British made a raid on her home, carrying off everything, she remained undaunted, and, mounting a horse, rode in hot haste to where the army was stationed, and asked to see the general in command. Her persistence gained admittance. She stated her case and the condition in which the British soldiers had left her home, and pleaded her cause with so much eloquence that the general ordered the spoils returned to her. Dearest child, in the intrepid spirit of this ancestor you will find the keynote to the brave spirit of the women of the South.
GVD: And would you tell us about your mother? She ran a plantation, right?
NBD: Mother was a woman of remarkable sweetness of disposition and intelligence, and had great executive ability, which latter quality was dispensable in the mistress of a large household of children and servants. She gave unceasing care and attention to her children, and personally supervised every detail of their education. Besides these duties, the negroes of the plantation, their food and clothing, care of their infants and the sick, all came under her control.
GVD: Who was your grandfather (father’s side)?
NBD: Henry William De Saussure, who was a descendant of the Huguenot family of that name, and a grandson of Chancellor Henry William De Saussure.
GVD: Your father was a spiritual man, was he not?
NBD: His devotion to Christ was unusual, and I never knew him to doubt for an instant that he himself was a child of God. Having a most affectionate disposition, he loved his wife and children intensely, and lived in and for them.