Women & the Oath of Allegiance

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lelliott19

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oath.jpg

Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations by John Rogers from the New York Historical Society (link below)

During the Civil War, Confederate political prisoners and prisoners of war could be released on taking an "Oath of Allegiance." After the war, President Andrew Johnson's plan, published May 29, 1865, granted amnesty and restoration of property rights to Southern insurgents who pledged loyalty to the Union and support for emancipation (High ranking Confederate Officers and civilians owning more than $20,000 personal property were excepted and had to apply for individual pardons.)

Civilians acting in official government positions like attorney, court clerk, judge, etc. were required to pledge the oath of allegiance in order to serve. Since women could not serve in these positions, did not participate in the rebellion as combatants, and were not yet allowed to vote, there was no requirement for them to pledge the oath. However, some women did take the oath of allegiance in order to draw rations from the Union Army or to file a claim for confiscated property. But what about those other Southern women who did not draw rations or file a claim? Why were they required to swear the Oath of Allegiance?

The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies General Orders No. 4, dated April 28, 1865, from the Military Department of the James, provides a possible answer. It includes among other content, the following: No marriage license will be issued until the parties desiring to be married take the oath of allegiance to the United Sates.

Cornelia Elizabeth Cabell Rives may have pledged the oath in order to marry Charles Carter Harrison. Her Oath of Allegiance was signed on December 13, 1865 (see below). While serving as a 1st Lieut in the 46th Virginia, Charles had been captured in March 1865 and imprisoned at Fort Delaware. At the time of his release, he would have signed the oath. Cornelia, however, had not. The couple was married December 25, 1865 in Albemarle County Va.
oath.jpg

Document from https://acwm.org/blog/january-2016-artifact-month-oath-allegiance
Sculpture Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations by John Rogers from the New York Historical Society http://emuseum.nyhistory.org/view/objects/asitem/[email protected]/37/displayDate-asc;jsessionid=73352188E108760256D0F5B83F652A03?t:state:flow=46f4e269-7c9a-420b-86b1-eb41d72e0347
 
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Drew

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Since women could not vote or own property,
This business of oaths is a really interesting issue.

I feel compelled, though, to point out that women in Louisiana had and exercised property rights, long before the war.

Believe it or not, free black women shared this right.

Now, this business of swearing allegiance to anything before marriage is a new one on me, but I'm not surprised.

Lunacy.
 
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Drew

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Thanks Drew. Ill edit the OP in case others are confused by that part. Please check and see if the edit is accurate?
Yes, lelliot19, it's accurate. :smile:

I didn't mean to be argumentative at all, but that women did have rights in the 19th century. Voting of course didn't come until the 20th.

Lunacy Reigns.
 

lelliott19

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Yes, lelliot19, it's accurate. :smile: I didn't mean to be argumentative at all, but that women did have rights in the 19th century. Voting of course didn't come until the 20th.
Thanks for providing the correction. Since it is a pretty interesting aspect of history, below is a partial timeline of women's right to own/manage property. Interestingly, some of the Southern States were among the first to allow women to own property - even if they couldn't manage it. :nah disagree:

1821 - Maine: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.
1835 - Arkansas: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1835 - Massachusetts & Tennessee: Married women allowed to own/manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1839 - Mississippi: Married Women's Property Act 1839 grants married women the right to own (but not control) property in her own name
1840 - Republic of Texas: Married women allowed to own property in their own name :thumbsup:
1840 - Maine & Maryland: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1842 - New Hampshire: Married women allowed to own/manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1843 - Kentucky: Married women allowed to own/manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1845 - Florida: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1846 - Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1846 - Michigan: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1849 - Alabama & Connecticut: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1849 - Missouri & South Carolina: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1850 - Oregon: Unmarried women allowed to own land.*
1852 - Indiana: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name
1852 - Wisconsin: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse
1857 - Oregon: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name*
1865 - Louisiana: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse

*
Hey! Whats up with Oregon? Single women could own property in 1850? But married women couldn't control property that they might own in 1857? :nah disagree:
Source: /wiki/Timeline_of_women's_legal_rights_(other_than_voting)
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Pennsylvania makes no lists, unsurprisingly. I'd been thinking it was connected to religious fervor, state by state but Southern states had their fair share and more. Left-over Puritanism?

I don't mean to get too far off thread, am wondering what social dynamic is at play here. This list does indeed show an unexpectedly advanced attitude towards women held in the South.

Goodness knows we had a strong Quaker population- equality of the sexes was a kind of mainstay there. Doesn't seem to have been too helpful.
 

lelliott19

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Here's another Oath of Allegiance signed by a woman.

This one signed by Armelia Akins of Taliaferro County, Georgia on September 29, 1865 at the Ordinary's Office in Greene County, Georgia. Also signed by Eugenius L. King, the Ordinary of Greene County.

Armelia Akins is described as fair complexion; auburn hair; blue eyes and 5 foot 3 inches tall.
s-l500.jpg

In the 1860 US Census, there is an Amelia (no "r") Akins , listed as Residence: Taliaferro Georgia; Female; age 37 (b. around 1823) born in Georgia. She is listed in the household with
John W Akins m/36 b.Ga
Jus L Akins m/9 b. Ga
Emma Akins f/7 b. Ga.
Other than this one census listing, I have not been able to locate any additional information on Armelia Akins.

There is a John W Akins listed as a Private, Co D 49th Georgia.
Enlisted March 4, 1862 at Crawfordsville, GA; born in Taliaferro County.
Described as 38 years old; 5 feet 10 inches tall; light complexion; gray eyes; dark hair and by occupation when enlisted a Farmer.
In July 1862 he is listed with "Extra Duty" as a driver July 14-31, 1862.
August 15, 1862 recommended for Light Duty due to disability
Sept 8, 1862 Discharged to light duty due to "anchylosis of the elbow joint and General dropsy caused from Vascular (?unreadable) disease of the heart."
Jan 1864 occupation: watchman at Powder works, Augusta GA. Detailed Sept 25, 1862
No further record.
 

18thVirginia

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This business of oaths is a really interesting issue.

I feel compelled, though, to point out that women in Louisiana had and exercised property rights, long before the war.

Believe it or not, free black women shared this right.

Now, this business of swearing allegiance to anything before marriage is a new one on me, but I'm not surprised.

Lunacy.
@Drew, you are correct that women in Louisiana had property rights unknown to women elsewhere in the U.S. long prior to the Civil War. The timeline which indicates that Louisiana women gained rights in their own names long after some other states gives a somewhat mistaken view of where women in Louisiana stood with regard to their property rights.

A basic difference is that women in Louisiana had lived under the Civil Law system of that state, which afforded women greater rights to their own property than under the other common-law states. Women in Louisiana had long established different rights to their paraphernal property than women living under a common law system. The forced heirship inheritance system in Louisiana, which meant that all inherited property was divided equally among heirs, also greatly aided women.
 
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