America Flirted with Legalized Prostitution During the Civil War


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JPK Huson 1863

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#2
There are a few threads on this. IMO because it seems so tantalizingly scandalous what gets missed is why there were so many women resorting to prostitution. The war displaced many women, orphaned other young girls and widowed more.They were sex workers so they would not die. Not much has changed, if it's one's single recourse it's what you do. If soldiers and the armies were plagued by diseases inseparable from frequenting brothels, women were plagued by the poverty putting them there.

Images of happy, ' loose ', scantily ( for the day, boy have things changed there ) clad women yukking it up with customers, everyone having a blast bug the bejammers out of me. It was an awful life. " I want to be a prostitute when I grow up " said no little girl, ever. These articles tend to focus on men despite being about women. No idea why.
 
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#3
https://www.history.com/news/civil-...X1EnEHuyJOegZyIoqtXHuzxcxxZE1UADFLHENaRcO1awY

As the Union Army faced down a public health crisis in Nashville, it had no choice but to accept the city’s sex workers.
Actually it's been up to states and territories to legalize or not legalize prostitution . Even in states where prostitution is illegal there are often various police or Sheriff's Dept's that allow Red Light districts where prostitution laws are simply not enforced. Brothel owners have often bribed local law enforcement not to raid their establishments.
Leftyhunter
 
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#4
There are a few threads on this. IMO because it seems so tantalizingly scandalous what gets missed is why there were so many women resorting to prostitution. The war displaced many women, orphaned other young girls and widowed more.They were sex workers so they would not die. Not much has changed, if it's one's single recourse it's what you do. If soldiers and the armies were plagued by diseases inseparable from frequenting brothels, women were plagued by the poverty putting them there.

Images of happy, ' loose ', scantily ( for the day, boy have things changed there ) clad women yukking it up with customers, everyone having a blast bug the bejammers out of me. It was an awful life. " I want to be a prostitute when I grow up " said no little girl, ever. These articles tend to focus on men despite being about women. No idea why.
Certainly one reason why prostitution was so common in the ACW was neither side had an effective welfare system that could at least pay for the food and shelter of women and children while their husbands are in military service.
In the Confederate side especially post Gettysburg even if the Confederate government paid the monthly military salary directly to the women of a Confederate Pow it wouldn't buy much.
Not sure how the Union compensated wives of Union Pows. In the North there was a labor shortage but not sure how far the money went for unskilled female labor.
Contrast the ACW with WW2 where yes certainly there was prostitution but women if Thur husband's were captured could draw their military pay with the caveat it only went so far. Also plenty of jobs for women and there was a national welfare system.
Leftyhunter
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#6
Certainly one reason why prostitution was so common in the ACW was neither side had an effective welfare system that could at least pay for the food and shelter of women and children while their husbands are in military service.
In the Confederate side especially post Gettysburg even if the Confederate government paid the monthly military salary directly to the women of a Confederate Pow it wouldn't buy much.
Not sure how the Union compensated wives of Union Pows. In the North there was a labor shortage but not sure how far the money went for unskilled female labor.
Contrast the ACW with WW2 where yes certainly there was prostitution but women if Thur husband's were captured could draw their military pay with the caveat it only went so far. Also plenty of jobs for women and there was a national welfare system.
Leftyhunter

Welfare tends to be a loaded term, doesn't it? There sure was no comprehensive net ensuring women whose husbands North and South were away at war did not fall into poverty. Another ridiculous aspect of getting it when it was available was proving you were married and other paperwork. A LOT had none- lost in moves or the war or non existent. North Carolina was the single state to go to bat for them, newspapers sneering at states that did not.

Women with a house full of children had a VERY hard time working. Pre-war, if a couple set up a traditional household it's not like the wife lounged on the sofa and ordered luxuries from catalogs. Women worked like farm hands, 24/7 sheer labor holding up their end. Between child care and the availability and what wages were paid unskilled labor it was tough. From the ACW into 2019 there's this idea of well, if she'd just go get a job..... uh huh.

I'm not sure how much anyone can judge prostitutes, ever. Well we can't. It isn't possible to say " WELL we had x y and z to offer, they must be just scummy people doing that for a living. Sex workers since the ACW were no different, economic and societal factors come into play.I remember seeing a talk show where sex workers were just shredded by a mostly female audience " Why don't you get a decent job like McDonalds? ". It was a repulsive bloodbath. OK. While child care for one kid per week sucks up the entire minimum wage paycheck, where's the rest to come from? It's an appalling thing to be driven to- anyone doing it to feed children has all my respect and compassion.

Like to point out there's a lot of judgement calls on these women. Where's the disdain for the men who pay for their services? And there's only been one immaculate conception if History is to be believed. It takes some coin to raise kids. Where's the disdain for men neglecting their part?
 
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#8
I believe that "The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell" says that Memphis and Nashville were the only two cities that legalized prostitution during the war. Good Old Tennessee.
Was prostitution actually outlawed in New Orleans! In many cities such has New York City even if prostitution was outlawed the police were so openly corrupt it just didn't matter. Prostitution was known to be rather open in Richmond and Washington DC
Leftyhunter
 

uaskme

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#9
I believe that "The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell" says that Memphis and Nashville were the only two cities that legalized prostitution during the war. Good Old Tennessee.
Tennessee was Occupied, during the War. What did Tennessee have to do with it? Good old Godless Northerners!

On the Northern home front, the Irish were replacing the women in the sewing trades in the Big City, NYC, and the number of Streetwalkers were growing at a high rate.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#11
Tennessee was Occupied, during the War. What did Tennessee have to do with it? Good old Godless Northerners!

On the Northern home front, the Irish were replacing the women in the sewing trades in the Big City, NYC, and the number of Streetwalkers were growing at a high rate.

So you could have stopped with pointing out there was a rise in prostitution in the north. Goodness. Godless, really? PK here. Haven't sacrificed a goat at midnight for awhile. Dad discouraged the whole thing based on wasting a good goat.

I'd use the term for anyone north or south who did not ensure women were cared for as men marched off to war. I'm unsure why ' the Irish ' replacing women is relevant but ok. First I've heard there were no Irish women.
 

Viper21

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#13
The name of the boat was, "Idahoe" Yikes.

There still seems a salacious fascination with the men's side of the story. OHHHH those sneaky soldiers committing sex with prostitutes. Faceless, voiceless, powerless and victimized. We're still at it.
No surprise. Women were 2nd class citizens (legally speaking) during this time period. A step above bondage. It was most definitely a man's world at the time. The push for rights of women to be treated as equals, didn't gain traction until the next century.

The sex industry has flourished since before the time of the immaculate conception. It will continue to as well. That plenty of folks are repulsed by the industry doesn't change the fact that, it's a successful enterprise for many. Just like in the article of the OP, most places where it's legal, have positive economic, & health benefits. People (male & female), are going to do, what they want, regardless of who it offends.

My comments are not an endorsement of the industry. Though, I can certainly see where plenty benefit from it, one way or another. I believe in freedom. Part of that is, to choose a lifestyle, or profession I don't personally care for. Like many of us, I would not want a daughter, or grand daughter of mine, making a living in that way.
 
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#15
The name of the boat was, "Idahoe" Yikes.

I can't imagine a more appropriate name for that steamboat!

No surprise. Women were 2nd class citizens (legally speaking) during this time period. A step above bondage. It was most definitely a man's world at the time. The push for rights of women to be treated as equals, didn't gain traction until the next century.

The sex industry has flourished since before the time of the immaculate conception. It will continue to as well. That plenty of folks are repulsed by the industry doesn't change the fact that, it's a successful enterprise for many. Just like in the article of the OP, most places where it's legal, have positive economic, & health benefits. People (male & female), are going to do, what they want, regardless of who it offends.

My comments are not an endorsement of the industry. Though, I can certainly see where plenty benefit from it, one way or another. I believe in freedom. Part of that is, to choose a lifestyle, or profession I don't personally care for. Like many of us, I would not want a daughter, or grand daughter of mine, making a living in that way.

No surprise. Women were 2nd class citizens (legally speaking) during this time period. A step above bondage. It was most definitely a man's world at the time. The push for rights of women to be treated as equals, didn't gain traction until the next century.

The sex industry has flourished since before the time of the immaculate conception. It will continue to as well. That plenty of folks are repulsed by the industry doesn't change the fact that, it's a successful enterprise for many. Just like in the article of the OP, most places where it's legal, have positive economic, & health benefits. People (male & female), are going to do, what they want, regardless of who it offends.

My comments are not an endorsement of the industry. Though, I can certainly see where plenty benefit from it, one way or another. I believe in freedom. Part of that is, to choose a lifestyle, or profession I don't personally care for. Like many of us, I would not want a daughter, or grand daughter of mine, making a living in that way.[/QUOTE]
 

johan_steele

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#17
The same thing happened in Honolulu during WW II. The military ran whorehouses that was monitored by Navy Docs and guarded by the USMC to keep Honolulu PD out.
And in Korea during and after the Korean War, add Vietnam to the mix. Men will find it regardless of the legality or the health. All those young men away from the constraints of home and mom...

It's a profession that is repugnant to most, at least out loud. But the **** industry has been around since before Rome and will likely still be here at the time of the second coming.

The largest house of ill repute in US history was in Nashville, the oldest was in New Orleans and when Vicksburg fell the houses of ill repute went on operating as though nothing had changed. When Atlanta burned... when set by Hoods retreating forces the houses of ill repute were spared and again when Sherman added to the ashes those same houses were saved again.
 
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#18
Well, the Federals moved the prostitutes from Nashville back up to Louisville. Well, only the Whites ones, no passes for the Negros. Didn't want to tamper with their Racial Mix, or rather, lack of it.

http://www.timesnews.net/Community/...nd-HARD-TIMES-Nashville-s-Infamous-Smokey-Row
The article you cite makes no mention of race at all. Do you have another source about race being a factor in how the Union Army dealt with prostitutes?
Who do you think composed the ranks of the prostitutes in Nashville? Are you sure they all came from the North? Wouldn't it be more probable that the majority were Southern women who did so not because they wanted to but they simply had no other means to feed their children. The Confederate government did try but was unable to have an effective relief system for the families of Confederate soldiers.
Leftyhunter
 

uaskme

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#19
The article you cite makes no mention of race at all. Do you have another source about race being a factor in how the Union Army dealt with prostitutes?
Who do you think composed the ranks of the prostitutes in Nashville? Are you sure they all came from the North? Wouldn't it be more probable that the majority were Southern women who did so not because they wanted to but they simply had no other means to feed their children. The Confederate government did try but was unable to have an effective relief system for the families of Confederate soldiers.
Leftyhunter
There has been books written about prostitution and Nashville. I live close to Chattanooga, I’ve studied it. Hooked probably brought a couple of Regiments of Prostitutes with him. Every wonder why they call them HOOKERS?
 
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#20
There has been books written about prostitution and Nashville. I live close to Chattanooga, I’ve studied it. Hooked probably brought a couple of Regiments of Prostitutes with him. Every wonder why they call them HOOKERS?
Which has nothing to do with the fact that the article you referenced did not mention race as a factor in how the Union Army delt with prostitutes. Either you have a source to back up your statement or it it is a false assertion.
It has been discussed previously that prostitutes had been called Hooker's well before the ACW.
Again who do you think these prostitutes were.
Leftyhunter
 



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