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Download We mean to be counted: white women & politics in antebellum by Elizabeth R. Varon PDF

By Elizabeth R. Varon

During the last 20 years, historians have effectively disputed the proposal that American ladies remained completely outdoors the world of politics till the early 20th century. nonetheless, a consensus has prevailed that, in contrast to their Northern opposite numbers, ladies of the antebellum South have been principally excluded from public lifestyles. With this e-book, Elizabeth Varon successfully demanding situations such historic assumptions. utilizing a big selection of resources, she demonstrates that through the antebellum interval, white Southern ladies of the slaveholding type have been very important actors within the public drama of politics. via their voluntary institutions, legislative petitions, presence at political conferences and rallies, and released appeals, Virginia's elite white ladies lent their aid to such debatable reform corporations because the temperance move and the yankee Colonization Society, to the electoral campaigns of the Whig and Democratic events, to the literary safeguard of slavery, and to the reasons of Unionism and secession. opposed to the backdrop of expanding sectional pressure, Varon argues, those girls struggled to satisfy a paradoxical mandate: to behave either as partisans who boldly expressed their political opinions and as mediators who infused public existence with the "feminine" virtues of compassion and concord.

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Associations also raised money at fairs, at which they sold goods made by the orphans. Such efforts received extensive coverage in newspapers and journals. " No one did Page 13 more to publicize female charities than Presbyterian clergyman John Holt Rice of Prince Edward County and Richmond, editor of the Virginia Evangelical and Literary Magazine. " Among the enterprises singled out for praise by the magazine was Richmond's Female Humane Association. Its work "must commend itself to the heart of every one who has the ordinary human feelings," he averted.

27 Finally, in 1840, the managers' persistence paid some dividends. Rather than asking for an allotment from the Literary Fund, their petition of January 8, 1840, asked for a modification in the law. Under the existing laws, the managers explained, the school commissioners of each county could allocate funds only to schools within their county limits. Local officials outside of Spotsylvania would gladly send their poor girls to Fredericksburg, if they could also allocate some of their county funds to the Fredericksburg Orphan Asylum.

30 The Union Benevolent Society's annual reports, Julia Cabell's book, Catherine Lomax's letter, and the Alexandria petition all testify that the second generation of benevolent women was willing to go further than the firstfurther in criticizing their communities, and especially the men in them, for inaction; in approaching prominent men for assistance; in soliciting state aid; and in asking Virginia to live up to the standard of benevolence set by Northern states. And yet the second generation was not accused, any more than the first had been, of overstepping the bounds of the female sphere and encroaching on the sphere of politics.

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