Sunday, July 12, 2020

Paul Horton: The Confederate “Lost Cause” and Southern Women - Living in Dialogue

The Confederate “Lost Cause” and Southern Women - Living in Dialogue

The Confederate “Lost Cause” and Southern Women
Strengthening the Bonds of Patriarchy as a Path to Power

By Paul Horton.
Part Two:
The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and other groups played a central role in the push to erect Confederate monuments between 1890 and 1920. They read Dunning School histories sympathetic to the South that downplayed the political violence of the Klan in the South during Reconstruction, embracing and promoting the view that the Klan was an honorable organization that defended Southern womanhood. “The Birth of a Nation,” when released, bolstered this perspective. By attacking the image of Black men, many, if not most, Southern middle and upper class Southern women strengthened the Southern white patriarchy and their own power. Their path to power and influence stood in stark contrast to women in the labor movement during the same period.
From 1870-1920, northern women asserted themselves into the public sphere in the women’s suffrage, temperance, social gospel, and settlement house movements. Some women joined unions and advocated for labor causes like Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, and Mother Jones. Thousands of women took to the streets during strikes for the eight-hour day, fair wages, and better working conditions. Garment workers, in particular, were active supporters of unions. In the early twentieth century, Margaret Sanger led a campaign to educate women and men about effective birth control.
In the postbellum and early twentieth century South, however, where the bonds of patriarchy held firmer, public sphere outlets for feminist activism were more restricted. Some women did write and speak for southern populists and the Knights of Labor, but the numbers of women who took part in political and social protests was relatively small. Several historians, Anne Firor Scott, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Jane Turner Censer to name a sampling, have all commented on the persistence of the “domestic sphere” for women in the South before and after the Civil War; while Stephanie McCurry in her book, Masters of Small Households, explained and analyzed the strength of male patriarchy in southern yeoman families that represented seventy-five percent of all southern families on the eve of the Civil War. When Southern women did become more active in the suffrage movement in the South during the Progressive movement, they insisted that only white women should be qualified to vote in an effort to preserve white supremacy, according to Yale historian Glenda Gilmore in her book, Gender and Jim Crow.
In the past twenty years, however, the role of women in actively shaping southern memory and southern CONTINUE READING: The Confederate “Lost Cause” and Southern Women - Living in Dialogue