Hopkins, Juliet (1818–1890)

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Hopkins, Juliet (1818–1890)

Confederate hospital administrator . Born Juliet Ann Opie on May 7, 1818, in Jefferson County, Virginia; died on March 9, 1890, in Washington, D.C.; daughter of Hierome Lindsay Opie and Margaret (Muse) Opie; attended Miss Ritchie's school, Richmond, Virginia; married Alexander George Gordon (a lieutenant of the U.S. Navy), in May 1837 (died 1849); married Arthur Francis Hopkins (a landowner and president of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad), on November 7, 1854; children: (adopted a niece) Juliet Opie.

Born in 1818 and raised on a Southern plantation, Juliet Hopkins was 16 when her mother died and she was called home from school to become mistress of a large household which included some 2,000 slaves. She was married at 19 to a Navy lieutenant who died three years later. In November 1854, she married Arthur Francis Hopkins, a landowner, railroad president, and justice of the Alabama supreme court. From that time on, Hopkins made her home in Mobile, Alabama. Although she had no children of her own, she and her second husband adopted a niece, Juliet Opie .

During the Civil War, a lack of hospital services made it necessary for individual states and volunteer groups to set up medical facilities for their troops near the battlefields. Hopkins volunteered as superintendent of the Alabama section of the Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. In November 1861, when the Alabama legislature named her husband state hospital agent, Hopkins took over the actual duties of the appointment, administrating the staffing, supplying, and management of field and base hospitals. Recognized as a dynamic manager, Hopkins did everything. She secured buildings for medical facilities, employed and supervised nurses, and worked with doctors to keep the hospitals clean and orderly. She even undertook battlefield rescue missions herself and, at the battle of Seven Pines, suffered a bullet wound in her hip that left her with a limp. The superior conditions and high quality of medical care in her hospitals were recognized throughout the Confederacy, and she was praised by such luminaries as General Joseph E. Johnston. She was also revered by her patients, to whom she was a source of practical assistance and constant encouragement.

In 1863, when the state hospitals were merged into the Confederate Medical Department, Hopkins returned to Alabama. One of her many honors during the war years was the use of her picture on two denominations of Alabama's paper currency. After the war, Hopkins moved to New York City. She died on March 9, 1890, while visiting Washington, D.C., and was buried with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

McHenry, Robert, ed. Famous American Women. NY: Dover, 1983.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Hopkins, Juliet (1818–1890)

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