Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
In this wildly romanticized 1863 illustration from one of Frank Leslie's magazines, a ' Lady ' is the center of attention, surrounded by luxury, pampered by her maids. Given a predilection towards peddling this kind of ideal 140 years ago, little wonder we're still at it, romanticizing the era in 2018. But what about those ( also idealized ) maids? Five dollars a month well, a girl has to eat.
There was a kind of class war. If you lived in 1863, you were more likely to be one of these maids, however improbably depicted than enjoy the implied wealth. Interestingly, hired help here are white women, black, much less enslaved women tend to not make an appearance in idyllic, class conscience scenes. Little odd.
Caption here is comprehensive. While Godey's, Demorest's, Leslie publication and novelettes relied heavily on the whole ' Everyone is a Princess ' ideal, Harpers Weekly scoffed from a vantage point in the real world.
Not an outrageous cartoon given what women ( and girls ) faced.
This job sounds charming........
Our enslaved population was a whole, 'nother story. While an entire raged over their future, they just, plain seem invisible, a whole, ' nother thread.
Laments on the vast gulf between rich and poor were out there, making this acceptance of some ideal where the wealthy woman is queen of her socially demarcated world all the more baffling. Mrs Kelly, as a war time example wasn't a servant, but working class and a soldier's wife when she died of starvation, her husband's pay held up for months. A huge scandal erupted bringing to light money available to and squandered by already wealthy businessmen like government contractor George Morgan. Harper's Weekly again covered the tragic inequality.
Just a small section from an article in a Vermont paper, 1862, taking some pretty strong swipes at how decorative wealthy women had become. It's not an altogether wonderful article since the author is firmly of the opinion housekeeping and housekeeping only is a female's vocation- but his objection to class distinction is noisy.
And.... Harper's Weekly Newspaper again, using a little snark to make their point.
Class/ wealth and how it separated us wasn't new. Heck, we're still at it. What's wonderful is this taking a stand over the concept anyone is, or should be on some different footing based on wealth. It was America, with an entire war on the line over what it meant to be an American. That equal thing- you can't buy it, we just all are.
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