Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate ...

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Part II:

The Daughters are probably best known today for the ubiquitous Confederate soldier monuments in cities throughout the South that they pushed local and state governments to erect. However, they were involved in a whole lot more. For example, as Confederate veterans aged, the Daughters became a moving force for state care for Confederate elderly. When the old soldiers’ homes refused to admit women, thereby breaking up couples that had been married for decades, the Daughters mobilized for the admission of wives. The precarious financial position of elderly widows of Confederate soldiers led them to campaign for widows’ homes.

The progressivism of the Daughters was limited by considerations of social class. Efforts by Northern philanthropists to create schools for African Americans led to fears that the South might become a region of educated blacks and illiterate whites. Karen Cox writes of the effort by some Daughters to improve education:

Education for the poor of Confederate descent was…part of the UDC’s benevolent mission. However, the Daughters’ response to assisting poor whites in getting an education was mixed. While many Daughters supported industrial education for poor whites, particularly in the rural South, on the whole the UDC did not lend its full support. Individual members and chapters of the UDC often acted independently to promote and support a program of industrial mission schools, while the general organization balked at providing financial assistance for several years. This reluctance was primarily because of the Daughters’ pledge to provide for the region’s aging Confederates, as well as their resolute commitment to building monuments, which took financial precedence.

Some Daughters challenged the lack of assistance to the poor children and grandchildren of ordinary Confederate soldiers. Cox writes of Daughter Rebecca Latimer Felton:

whose personal crusade was to educate rural farm women—not only to empower them personally, but in order to sustain “Anglo Saxon” supremacy. In many respects, her progressivism was Confederate, since she often made the point that many of these young farm women were the direct descendents of Confederate veterans. As she sought to enlist other southern women in this cause, she saw other UDC members as her most obvious allies.

Rebecca Felton spoke to small groups of the UDC throughout Georgia, arguing that they should take action to relieve the plight of southern farm women. Then, in 1897, she had the opportunity to address the en tire convention of the UDC. Felton traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, where the Daughters were holding their general convention and delivered a speech entitled “The Importance of the Education of Poor Girls of the South.” Motivated to action by the poverty and ignorance visible in her own state and conditions she knew existed throughout the South,

Felton presented her case to the UDC. The poor southern white girls of whom she spoke may not have been “cultured ladies” like the Daughters, but the fathers and grandfathers of those girls had also fought to defend the Confederacy. Therefore, southern men and women had a “duty” to help the descendants of those who died during the “unequal struggle of the sixties,” by providing poor white girls with higher education. Felton’s speech appealed to the Daughters’ race, class, and gender interests.

An avowed white supremacist, she implored the Daughters to assist poor white girls because they were “the coming mothers of the great majority of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” She pointed with disdain at the money northern philanthropists had given to educate African Americans in the region. While Felton believed that “giving literary cultivation and the ballot to a race before it was fitted for either” was a “waste of money,” she also feared that poor whites would not be able to compete “with the children of the former slaves” who received a technical or university education. The Daughters must help these young women, Felton pleaded, because “the destiny of the white population rests in their [white girls’] hands.”

Another Daughter advocating educational reform was Martha Gielow of Alabama. Cox describes her appeal for expanded educational opportunities and the response she got from the leader of the organization. Gielow hoped:

to promote “industrial and practical education for white children throughout the South.” She hoped to establish industrial “mission schools,” especially for the most destitute white children living in the mountains, and to support such schools that were already operating in those areas. To gain help in this task, Gielow sent a circular to the presidents-general of the local, state, and general divisions of the UDC, requesting their assistance. She implored the UDC to join her in educating “neglected Southern white children” in order to prepare them “for the duties of citizenship.” …She solicited the Daughters’ help by asking them to assist the less fortunate of their race, people who were “white, of the pure Anglo-Saxon race.” She raised concerns about the money spent by northern philanthropists to educate African Americans in the South and then critically questioned the UDC about the way it spent the money it raised. “What good will monuments to our ancestors be,” Gielow asked, “if our Southland is to become the land of educated blacks and uneducated whites?”...

UDC President-General Lizzie George Henderson of Mississippi issued her own response to Gielow. The UDC should not “educate any but Confederate children,” and definitely not “the children of the mountain whites who fought against the South,” Henderson wrote—highlighting the classism of the UDC’s membership.

The UDC invested its educational funds in other priorities. In keeping with its elite leadership’s class bias, it funded college scholarships, not education for the poor. These typically took the form of Confederate essay contests. One contest at Columbia University led to embarrassment when the daughters discovered that the winning essay described the Daughters’ beloved icon Robert E. Lee as a “traitor.” The UDC members who organized the contest were roundly denounced for holding it at a university that admitted “Negroes.”

Laura Martin Rose, on the other hand, drew only praise when she used her position with the UDC to create and promote a children’s book praising the Ku Klux Klan.

By the 1920s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy began a long slow decline in power and prestige. For three decades they had captured the allegiance of the elite women of the South. They had helped form the Lost Cause version of the Civil War and Reconstruction and they had hounded dissenting teachers and textbooks out of Southern schools. Their viewpoint continued on in the attitudes of the men and women educated according to their precepts, even as the organization declined. Their work lived on long after they were gone.

Dixie’s Daughters is a witty and fascinating examination of an organization that had not attracted enough scholarly attention before Cox’s study was published. I recommend it to anyone interested in Confederate monumentation, the propagation of the Lost Cause view of American history, and the history of American women.

Patrick Young, Esq. is Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University School of Law where he also co-directs the school's Immigration Law Clinic. He is the Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center and Executive Vice Chair of the New York Immigration Coalition. He is the author of the web series The Immigrants' Civil War.

This concludes the review.
Was there also a Sons of the Confederacy or they just have Klan and Bloody Shirts.There is a statue/monument to the Confederate women at the Capital building in Montgomery ,Al. The saying on it is very beautiful and truthful. At least it was there fifteen years ago.I think that the Daughters had it erected.
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
Was there also a Sons of the Confederacy or they just have Klan and Bloody Shirts.There is a statue/monument to the Confederate women at the Capital building in Montgomery ,Al. The saying on it is very beautiful and truthful. At least it was there fifteen years ago.I think that the Daughters had it erected.
Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is the principal male descendant organization.
 

Bee

Captain
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
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Last edited:

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
Dr. Cox has written a new, updated preface for Dixies Daughter's. Here is a little background on the struggle to publish the book:

I want to share a story about my 2003 book Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida), which will be issued as a revised edition with a scheduled publication date of January 2019. https://karenlcoxauthor.com/2018/07/20/dixies-daughters-almost-never-happened/
Thanks for the link. I will check it out later.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
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You’re a sly one. That’s not what I said. I said the people of the South are misunderstood and the UDC is a modern day scapegoat. Many of the monuments placed by the UDC HAVE PLAYED A GREAT ROLE IN PRESERVING HISTORY! Without these monuments we would never know the cost of war. It’s still amazing to me that the value of that is not important.
How is the UDC misunderstood?
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Dr. Cox has written a new, updated preface for Dixies Daughter's. Here is a little background on the struggle to publish the book:

I want to share a story about my 2003 book Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida), which will be issued as a revised edition with a scheduled publication date of January 2019. https://karenlcoxauthor.com/2018/07/20/dixies-daughters-almost-never-happened/
May I suggest that there is a discussion on C SPAN HISTORY withe Pro. James Robinson giving a speech on Confederate monuments and Robert E. Lee .He offers very insightful view on the history of these monuments as to their importance in not just Southern history but American History .It takes place after the events of Columbia following the maylace that occurred with the removal of a Lee statue. Pro. Robinson speaks on the attitude that has occurred within the educational system as to the neglect or at times the change in the purpose of American history of that time and the politicizing of this nations history The defaming of the leaders of the Confederacy by certain writers is very interesting ,esp Lee and Davis,He presents the time of 1850 on as one of like today ,a time of political turmoil on both North and South.The make up of the Southern people is one of family,region,state, and then nation,not of slavery or of the Big House.If you can find it on C-SPAN HISTORY please to see it. There are other speakers you also contribute to this issue
 

WJC

Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
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