"There never was a more terrible lesson of the dangerous folly, not to say the criminal wickedness, of our civilization in trying to make women helpless, weak and defenseless creatures such as nature never designed them to be..." In 1874, when the Union and Recorder (Milledgeville, GA) advocated for women's physical education, the newspaper was still way ahead of the times. It may be surprising to find that one of the first formal physical education programs for women in the United States was provided in 1866 at the Andrew Female College in Cuthbert, Georgia.
[The Albany Tri-weekly News. (Albany, Ga.), August 24, 1867, page 2.]
Alexander Lockett Hamilton was a Confederate Veteran - former Chaplain and Quartermaster of the 16th Alabama Infantry and former aid to Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin (S.A.M.) Wood. In 1866, after the war, when classes resumed at the Andrew Female College, Hamilton became its President. He added a physical education course to the College’s curriculum. It was the first such course to be required of women in the South - eight years before this article appeared.
If A. L. Hamilton didn't write the 1874 article below for the Milledgeville Union and Recorder, I'm sure he was in agreement:
PHYSICAL EDUCATION OF WOMEN
Four hundred men were saved from the wreck of the Atlantic, and one boy of twelve years of age. Not a single woman was saved. No especial effort was made to save the boy. He saved himself by a judicious use of his feeble strength. But many men made gallant efforts to save their wives, their sweethearts, and their daughters. Why is the total failure?
The answer is plain. The women could not swim. The women could not climb. The women could not cling to a rope stretched from the ship to the shore. The women were not dressed either to withstand the cold or allow them the free play of their limbs and muscles. A little feeble boy could climb the rigging, could crawl along a rope, could safely drop from the height into a rocking boat, but the women could do nothing useful to themselves or others. Yet if the ship had been filled with barbarians, as many women as men, proportionally would have reached the shores.
Our boasted civilization and the decrees of fashion and miscalled propriety murder women whenever an emergency arrives which reduces all caught in a great catastrophe from "ladies" and "gentlemen" to a dependence upon animal strength, cool courage, muscular and mental resources capable battling with the elements. There never was a more terrible lesson of the dangerous folly, not to say the criminal wickedness, of our civilization in trying to make women helpless, weak and defenseless creatures such as nature never designed them to be; and yet this lesson will pass utterly unheeded, as so many hundreds of previous ones have passed. -Christian Intelligence
[Union and Recorder. (Milledgeville, Ga.), May 06, 1874, page 4.]
History of Andrew College https://www.andrewcollege.edu/history-andrew-college
Find A Grave memorial Andrew Lockett Hamilton https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/170471535/alexander-lockett-hamilton
Image 1800's physical fitness from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-history-of-physical-fitness/