Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Social Media

Hello readers! This is just a quick post to remind everyone that The Half-Pint Historian has a Facebook page, which you can visit here: I post videos, pictures, and share some interesting tidbits of historical information on the Facebook page fairly regularly when I don't have the time to write a full blog post. Head on over to the Facebook page and give it a "Like" to stay updated!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Albert Cashier: Non-Binary/Transgender During the Civil War

Hello readers! I have had a couple of days off from graduate school as I was in-between terms. In my time off, I've been conducting research so I can give you all some new blog posts!

Over the past couple of months, I've been writing a lot about the Civil War, and that's because there's just so much to write about. One of the topics that fascinated me while I was taking a class about the Civil War was how women would disguise themselves as men and fight in the war for both sides--now, this is not unique to the Civil War, but what is unique to the topic of the Civil War is Albert Cashier--a young soldier who was born a woman but lived life as a man, both before the war began and long after the war had ended. I wrote a short historiography about the life of Albert Cashier and other non-binary and/or transgender soldiers titled Non-Binary: A Historiographical Account of the Importance of the Life of Albert Cashier which is posted below.

The LGBTQ+ Movement of the modern era in America has been controversial for many. While many believe in equal rights and representation for everyone, others believe that those equal rights are in reality special rights and show the corruption of a once great Christian nation. Many believe that the emergence of those who identify as LGBTQ+ is a new phenomenon but that is not the case. Throughout history and in numerous parts of the world, a “third gender” has been identified; this “third gender” has been defined as individuals who had been born biologically male but took on feminine roles and as individuals who had been born biologically female but took on masculine roles. For the sake of this historiographic paper, the “third gender” will be referred to as “non-binary” or “gender queer”. “Non-Binary: A Historiographical Account of the Importance of the Life of Albert Cashier” will utilize the gender and sexuality historical lenses to provide an accurate and detailed account on Cashier’s life, using his/her life to fully examine how gender queer individuals have had a lasting impact on American history. “Non-Binary” seeks to use the life of Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers to answer a series of questions, including the following: Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers lived and fought at the time of the Civil War. How did the Civil War change how Americans thought about gender, sex and sexuality? What were the reasons Jennie Hodgers, if any can be found, spent her life as Albert Cashier? What were the reasons that women would dress and act like men during the time of the Civil War and continue to live their lives as men after the war had ended? What could be the benefits of looking at the Civil War and the life of Jennie Hodgers/Albert Cashier through the gender and sexuality lenses? These questions will allow me to explore the full extent of Cashier’s/Hodgers’s life so that I may understand the intricacies of how this individual was able to be a “passing woman” in the 19th century.
The life of Albert Cashier was a unique one. Born Jennie Hodgers in 1843 in the village of Clogher Head in Ireland, there are numerous stories as to how Jennie transitioned to Albert. In his book Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall, St. Sukie de la Croix notes that stories surrounding Hodgers’s/Cashier’s early days include arriving in New York as a stowaway or a cabin boy, or immigrating with her poverty-stricken parents who dressed her as a boy and sent her to work in a shoe factory[1]. The early days of Hodgers’s/Cashier’s life is lost, but what historians do know is that a nineteen-year-old Albert Cashier signed up for the Union Army in Belvidere, Illinois on August 3, 1862; Cashier belonged in the 95th Illinois Infantry Volunteers and fought in over forty battles and skirmishes, including the Battle of Vicksburg[2]. There were other women who disguised themselves as men and fought for both sides of the Civil War, however, Hodgers kept her identity as Albert Cashier long after the war had ended.
After being discharged with the rest of the regiment at the end of the Civil War, Hodgers/Cashier would move to a small town in Illinois where she/he would live for the next four decades. Hodgers/Cashier would never marry, and would find gainful employment as a jack of all trades around the town, working as a farmhand, handyman, church caretaker, and other odd jobs[3]. In 1911, Hodgers/cashier was accidentally hit by an automobile and suffered a fractured femur; the doctor attending to Albert soon learned of Albert’s true sex but took an oath of confidentiality to preserve the long-held secret while arrangements were made for Albert to be admitted to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home at Quincy, Illinois[4]. “Two years later, after some erratic behavior, Albert was committed to a public mental hospital and the news was out. National headlines told the secret. Old comrades rallied to her support, testifying to Albert’s bravery in combat and public good work in later life. Albert/Jennie died at Watertown State Hospital in 1915, at age seventy-one. Her headstone reads: “Albert D.J. Cashier, Company G. 95th Illinois Infantry””[5].
The life of Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers is one that made waves, even if that individual did not intend to do so. Questions remain about the life of Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers. The first question is a question in two parts: why would a woman disguise herself as a man a fight in the Civil War, and why would she choose to remain to live as a man for the rest of her days? There are, of course, multiple answers to these questions.
Once the Civil War broke out, the women would mobilize for the war effort; many would make monetary donations, take over the farms as their male relatives left to fight, or would make homemade goods and uniforms for the army; other women would become battlefield nurses or even disguise themselves as soldiers and fight in the war themselves. According to the Civil War Trust, estimates place female soldiers’ numbers between 400-750 total between both sides of the conflict; as for the reasons why women chose to go to war, some chose to follow their loved ones into battle, other chose to fight because they believed in the cause(s) for which they were fighting and believed that it was their patriotic duty to fight as well, and still other joined because of the promise of adventure and reliable wages[6]. Despite the strides women were trying to make when it came to equal rights prior to the war and once the war had come to an end, women were continuing to fight to be on equal footing with men in the United States when it came to citizenship and the law long after the Civil war had come to an end. For many women, this meant a long, hard-fought battle for suffrage as well as property rights. In the United States in the nineteenth century, it was much more beneficial to be born a male. Women were subjected to the law of coverture, meaning that once a woman was married she was no longer considered an individual; in marriage under coverture the husband “exercised almost exclusive power and responsibility and rarely had to consult his wife to make decisions about property matters…and, unless some prior specific provision separating a woman’s property from her husband’s had been made, stripped a woman of control over real and personal property”[7]. Given these reasons, a woman choosing to live her life as a man would not necessarily seem out of the ordinary given the societal benefits men had over women. However, Hodgers/Cashier lived her/his entire life as a male by some accounts and did not have a choice in doing so (as mentioned in a previous paragraphs, one of the possible reasons Jennie transitioned to Albert was her parents dressing her as a boy in order to get work in a factory). DeAnne Blanton and Lauren Cook Wike, the authors of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, simply believe that, despite Hodgers’s/Cashier’s reasons for living as a man not being delineated, her male persona had been so well-established with her family and friends that Jennie felt she had no choice but to continue being Albert[8]. Another possible reason for the Jennie/Albert transition is one allegedly told by Jennie/Albert—that she had begun dressing as man in order to enlist in the army with a lover who was wounded early in the war, and upon  his deathbed he made Jennie promise him that she would never wear a dress[9]. There are numerous possible reasons why Jennie would have taken on the role of Albert, but with a lack of evidence from Jennie/Albert, historians will never be able to know for sure; instead, historians are left to speculate on the reasons, mulling over the above given the time of the events as a series of possibilities.
In his book A Queer History of the United States, Michael Bronski spends a very brief time describing the life of Jennie Hodgers/Albert Cashier, and does so while putting the label of “transgender” on Hodgers/Cashier. While Hodgers/Cashier may very well have been transgender, this historiographical account deems it safer to place a different label—that of non-binary. Non-binary is not a new label, but it is one that is just coming into the spotlight due to the modern LGBTQ+ Movement. Non-binary goes by other names, such as “agender” or even “gender queer”, with the most common of its other monikers being “androgynous” or “unisex”. The term non-binary itself has become an umbrella term for the spectrum of human gender identity; non-binary has come to be known as any gender that is not exclusively male or female. Historiography, particularly when it comes to the sexuality and gender lenses, is lacking when it comes to the history of non-binary people. What was especially interesting material to come across was any information about “passing women”. Bronski mentioned passing women very briefly when describing the life of Hodgers/Cashier. In a 2013 article on, Marlo Thomas went more in-depth to describe the reasons why women would want to pass as men. “Outside of fiction, women’s attempts to “pass” as a man have often been a desperate response to professional or societal roadblocks. Some felt they needed to adopt the masquerade in order to break into male-dominated fields. Others simply wanted to get a job — make a living, support themselves — the way men always had”[10]. For Jennie/Albert, there must have been a deeper reason behind dressing as a man and spending her life as a man, but as mentioned, without knowing from her, historians can only speculate.
One of the main questions historians who write about sex and gender during the Civil War era seek to answer is as follows: How did the Civil War change how Americans thought about gender, sex and sexuality? In his book The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War by Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, as well as in the book, Sex and the Civil War: Soldiers, Pornography, and the Making of American Morality by Judith Giesburg, both authors describe the Victorian era, of which the Civil War fell roughly in the middle and was thus heavily influenced. The Victorian era lasted from 1837 to 1801, and one of the things the period was known for was sexual morality, especially in terms of women, however, the Victorian era was also known for people who disobeyed the rules of society. The case for cross-dressing in the Victorian era was strong; in a 2012 article on by Juliet Jacques, she states, “With female working rights limited, the few contemporary reports of women who presented as men suggest a belief that they did so to find work. Seeing no reason why men would dress as women, the Victorian authorities assumed sexual motives - particularly that they did it to trick men into sex with them”[11]. As can be seen, this idea of women looking for employment as men persists. However, Dr. Lowry describes acts of homosexuality and homosexual behavior in the Union army during the Civil War; “If a conservative 1 percent figure is true, then at least 10,000 of the boys in blue were physically attracted to other boys in blue—and might well have been attracted to boys in gray as well, if a wall of bayonets had not separated them”[12]. Historians cannot be sure what Hodgers’s/Cashier’s sexuality was as she/he never married nor was seen with a partner of either sex, but this percentage is worth noting based to attempt to get a number of what the Union army was potentially dealing with when it came to its ranks. Anti-sodomy laws were not as strict in the 1860s as they were one hundred years later; in the 1860s, arrest for same-sex behavior was rare, with only one instance being in the state of Virginia[13], showing that “Both the psychology and true incidence of homosexuality in the 860s appear to be mysteries”[14].
For some, including Jennie/Albert, private lives were meant to be kept private and behind closed doors, but for one man in the Victorian era, what two consenting adults regardless of sex, sexuality, and gender did in the comfort of their own home did not matter. That man was the notorious Anthony Comstock. Judith Giesburg describes Anthony Comstock and his crusade of morality during the Victorian era in great detail. “Anthony Comstock, it is often said, burst onto the scene in 1872, one year after New York passed a strict antiobscenity law, and within months was given virtually unlimited authority under federal law to police the nation’s morals by controlling not only what got into the mails but also what people wrote about sex and what they did”[15]. Comstock Laws, or versions of Comstock Laws, are still on the books in many states, and initially had to do with the spread of information about various forms of contraception as well as pornography through the mail; until 1962, and sometimes even later, Comstock Laws trumped privacy laws in many states.
In the Victorian era, specifically during the Civil War, definitions of “masculinity” and “femininity” where in flux, especially when it comes to those who disguised themselves as men and joined the army. Editors Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber explore definitions of “masculinity” and “femininity” in the context of the 1860s to expand on the understanding of sexuality and politics of the era, and deal with the question of why so many women adopted male identities during the war in their book Battle Scars: Gender and Sexuality During the Civil War. For example, “…Victorian notions of “appropriate” female behavior during the war ultimately have lasting progressive effects for American women. For not only did these women’s stories fill the pages pf both early and subsequent histories of women’s Civil War service but also, more to the point, they ended up altering gender norms in the long term by paving the way for Northern middle-class American women after the war to expand the scope and social impact of the various humanitarian endeavors in which they had already been engaged during the antebellum period”[16].
            Ideas about what it meant to be “masculine” and what it meant to be “feminine” where changing during the 1860s in relation to the Civil War and after, but when it came to Jennie/Albert, sex and gender were still seen as one and the same, and as binary, not seen as a spectrum as many see sex and gender today. Some of the historians mentioned throughout this historiography have labeled Jennie/Albert as transgender, but I have chosen to label Jennie/Albert as non-binary, using the definition “not exclusively male or female” that was given earlier in the paper. In the end, Jennie/Albert would die at the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane on October 10, 1915[17]. Jennie/Albert had been forced to wear a dress in her later years, having been discovered to be a biological woman, but the Hospital for the Insane allowed her to fashion pants by using pins[18].
            For some, Jennie/Albert remains the first out-and-out transgender individual in American history and thus has had a major impact on the modern-day LGBTQ+ Movement and on the Women’s Rights Movement as well. As far as women’s rights are concerned, women have fought for the right to fight—women have wanted to serve in the military in the same capacity as men, but have been barred from doing so, so they had no choice but to disguise themselves as men and fight. However, women officially began serving in the United States military in the same capacity as men in 1915. Part of the reason for this change, allowing women to fight in the military officially, was because of the women of the Civil War. In Camouflage Isn’t Only for Combat: Gender, Sexuality, and Women in the Military by Melissa S. Herbert, there remained a stigma as to the type of woman who joined the military, who chose to enter the most male of the male domains: “A “real woman” doesn’t want to do “men things”. Sociocultural notions of what constitutes femininity and masculinity are used to ensure that women who push the boundaries of gender are censured for such behaviors. While one mechanism is the threat that they are somehow less than “real women”, another is the threat of labeling them “lesbian”. A “real woman” does not do that most manly of “men things”, sleep with women. Gender and sexuality are intertwined in such a way that notions of appropriateness in one are used to reinforce the other”[19]. In the 1940s, because the use of women in the military and working in support roles for the military (working in the munitions factories for example) was necessary, makeup companies began to promote specific colors over others, promoting them to women as more patriotic and makeup would even become a part of a military woman’s uniform, a way to separate her from one of the guys; thus sexuality and gender became even more ingrained with the work these women were doing in the military. Herbert continues her book by saying that “When a given occupational role is defined as masculine, many automatically challenge women’s ability or suitability to assume that role. In a society where we either fail to acknowledge traits in a woman that seem masculine or censure them [why I chose to label Jennie/Albert as non-binary as opposed to transgender as other historians have chosen to do so], women who seek to enter a work role that is defined as masculine are faced with a number of barriers to their participation. Women may be seen as deviant, and they may find that they have to work at creating an image that allows them to balance their sex-defined role with the gendered occupational role”[20]. The history of women in the United States Armed Forces is a lengthy one, and it is a history that continues to be made today. Women fought in the American Revolution under male aliases just as they had done in the Civil War when Jennie/Albert fought, women served in the Second World War in non-combat roles but their roles in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps were still dangerous, women served in various roles in the Korean War as well as in the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and in the current conflicts in the Middle East. The subject of women in combat is a controversial one for many; apart from the stereotypes of what it means to be masculine and feminine, opponents of women in the military are often concerned about having women drafted into the military. The United States had not had a draft since 1973 during the Vietnam War, however, in 2016 the U.S. Senate voted in favor to require women to register with the Selective Service, women turning 18 on or after January 1, 2018 would be required to register[21]; as of August 2017 that bill did not pass in the House of Representatives and thus did not become a law[22].
            Women have come a long way in the armed forces since Jennie/Albert served, however, members of the LGBTQ+ community have seen rights given to them and taken away. This historiographical account has already briefly mentioned homosexuals in the military, but a deeper examination must be taken, especially when it comes to rights and the potential impact that Jennie/Albert had had on the military.
            Members of the LGBTQ+ community have also served in the United States Armed Forces in all aspects, however there remains an open hostility to members of the LGBTQ+ community who choose to make the ultimate sacrifice of entering into the armed forces; if they voluntarily sign their life away for their country, why is there such a hostility towards them? Should not the ranks of the U.S. military be the one great equalizer? If those who are “straight” and those who are not both choose to give their lives to their country, why is there such controversy surrounding the groups that are labeled as “not straight”?
            In his book Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, Randy Shilts mentions that there seemed to be more actions against lesbians than against gay men in the armed forces, “There are many men who never wanted women in their Army or their Navy in the first place, and the military regulations regarding homosexuality have been the way to keep them out for the past decade. Until proven otherwise, women in the military are often suspected of being lesbian. Why else, the logic goes, would they want to join a man’s world? Many of these women take jobs that have traditionally been held by men. If they are successful, they are suspect for not being womanly enough; if they fail, they are harassed for not being man enough to do the job. The way women can prove themselves to be nonlesbians is to have sex with men. Thus antigay regulations have encouraged sexual harassment of women. Those who will not acquiesce to a colleague’s advances are routinely accused of being a lesbian are subject to discharge. Some women have allowed themselves to be raped by male officers, afraid that the alternative would be a charge of lesbianism”[23]. Gay men, too, faced open hostility at times, but throughout Shilts’s work, we see example upon example of lesbians or assumed lesbians bring discharged from their WAC posts for their sexuality, with the military sometimes going so far as to spy on the women by tapping their phones[24]. The idea of sexuality and military service is a complex one, especially when looking into the modern era. In 1993, President Bill Clinton issued the policy known as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or DADT which meant that military applicants should not be asked about their sexual orientation, but it also meant that homosexuals and bisexuals could not serve openly in the military, and those servicemen and women who were discovered to be homosexual or bisexual could be discharged[25]. In 2010, DADT was overturned under the Obama administration, officially taking effect in September 2011.
            Where do transgender individuals fit in? For many, the idea of transgender individuals serving in the military is a new concept, and that may well be the case if there were not others like Jennie/Albert throughout history who managed to live their lives as the opposite sex, whether by their own volition or not. Many civilians may see transgender individuals as confused and that the military is no place for these individuals to be, or that these individuals are treating the military as an experiment. In July 2016 “the Pentagon had lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military, removing one of its last discriminatory hurdles and placing protection of gender rights on par with race, religion, color, sex, and sexual orientation”[26]; however, in July 2017 President Donald Trump used the popular social media website Twitter to say he was barring transgender individuals from serving in any capacity from the U.S. military[27]. People around the country are livid, while others rejoice at the action the current President has taken. Transgender members of the military, past and present, have been speaking out about the current administration’s actions.
            Despite this, the life of Jennie Hodgers/Albert Cashier remains a part of national news, as the life of Jennie/Albert has been adapted into a musical titled “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier” written by Jay Paul Deratany. The life of Jennie/Albert continues to have a lasting impact on members of the LGBTQ+ community, and will have a lasting impact on the U.S. armed forces in some way as the nation struggles to figure out which direction it wants move in, on which side of history it wants to be on in regards to LGBTQ+ rights.
            When discussing the Civil War, and looking at the lives of specific soldiers who fought in the war, there are numerous benefits of using the gender and sexuality lenses. Gender history explores how the sexes have interacted with one another and sexuality history explores human interaction via sexuality over time. Using these lenses to look at the Civil War and the lives of the soldiers, or a specific soldier, historians can explore how the Victorian era had an impact on the war and on the interaction the soldiers would have had with one another.
            Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers had a major impact on the LGBTQ+ Movement at various stages, especially when it came to the act of being an LGBTQ+ individual in the military such as Cashier/Hodgers. For a time, the story of Cashier/Hodgers circulated in the newspapers, outing the war vet as “just a woman” when, clearly, that was not how Cashier had been identifying, and hadn’t been for quite some time. Regardless of that, the story of Cashier/Hodgers is one that should be more famous than it is, and one that remains in American discourse because of off-Broadway plays about the life of this individual and because of blurbs about the life of this individual in various historical monographs of various topics relating to the Civil War or queer history, whether about women who disguised themselves as men and fought in the war, or about the overall history of queers and other LGBTQ+ individuals who have made a difference in American history. Cashier/Hodgers was not the first non-binary individual of their time, nor will they be the last, but as LGBTQ+ individuals continue to join the military, and as actions against them entering into the military continue, Cashier/Hodgers will continue to have a place in Civil War historiography as well as gender and sexuality historiography.

[1] St. Sukie de la Croix, Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), 29.
[2] de la Croix, Chicago Whispers, 30.
[3]Thomas P. Lowry, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1994), 121.
[4] Lowry, Sex in the Civil War, 121.
[5] Lowry, Sex in the Civil War, 121.
[6] “Female Soldiers in the Civil War”,, accessed August 3,2017.
[7] The editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Coverture”,, accessed August 3, 2017.
[8] DeAnne Blanton and Lauren Cook Wike, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002), 170.
[9] Blanton, Wike, They Fought Like Demons, 175.
[10] Marlo Thomas, “The Curious Case of Women Who ‘Passed’ As Men In Pursuit of a Dream”,, accessed August 3, 2017.
[11] Juliet Jacques, “Cross-dressing in Victorian London”,, accessed August 3, 2017.
[12] Thomas P. Lowry, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1994), 110.
[13] Lowry, Sex in the Civil War, 114.
[14] Lowry, Sex in the Civil War, 114.  
[15]Judith Giesberg, Sex and the Civil War: Pornography and the Making of American Morality (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), 2.
[16]Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber, Battle Scars: Gender and Sexuality During the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 110.
[17] St. Sukie de la Croix, Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), 31.
[18] de la Croix, Chicago Whispers, 31.
[19] Melissa S. Herbert, Camouflage Isn’t Only For Combat: Gender, Sexuality, and Women in the Military (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 2.
[20] Herbert, Camouflage Isn’t Only for Combat, 31.  
[21] Jennifer Steinhauer, “Senate Votes to Require Women to Register for the Draft”,, accessed August 6, 2017.
[22] “Women and the Draft”,, accessed August 6, 2017.
[23] Randy Shilts, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military  (New York: Open Road Media, 2014), prologue.  
[24] Shilts, Conduct Unbecoming, Book One chapter three “The Rules”.
[25] Ethan Klapper, “On This Day in 1993, Bill Clinton Announced ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’”,, accessed August 6, 2017.
[26] W.J. Hennigan, “Trump bars transgender people from serving ‘in any capacity’ in the U.S. military”,, accessed August 6, 2017.
[27] Hennigan, “Trump bars transgender people from serving ‘in any capacity’ in the U.S. military”, accessed August 6, 2017.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen

Hello readers! To officially finish this segment on the Civil War and Reconstruction, I thought we could have a discussion about rights. The period of Reconstruction would bring about three new amendments to the Constitution--the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to be exact.

The Thirteenth Amendment

The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified to the Constitution on December 6, 1865 after the conclusion of the Civil War. The 13th Amendment would officially abolish slavery in the United States. The 13th Amendment states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

The Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment officially granted African-Americans, born free and former slaves alike, citizenship rights. In part, the Amendment reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Fifteenth Amendment

The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was formally adopted on March 30, 1870 and grants African-American men the right to vote. In part, the 14th Amendment reads, "...the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Together these three Reconstruction amendments would officially grant citizenship rights to African-Americans, but there remained great opposition to these Amendments which would last well into the 20th century.

Opposition to the Reconstruction Amendments

There was opposition to the Reconstruction Amendments, usually in the form of outright refusal. Predominantly in the South but also in the North as well, opposition to the Thirteenth Amendment including sharecropping. Sharecropping was a form of agriculture where a landowner would allow tenants to use the land in return for a...wait for it...share of the crops. During the Reconstruction Era, and after, African-Americans were more likely to be tenants because they could not afford to buy land. Landowners would charge their tenants for everything, including tools and seeds. This often put tenants in debt and unable to pay off those debts, which would extend their terms as tenants and unable to break the cycle.

Opposition to the Fourteenth  Amendment included the implementation of Jim Crow Laws. Jim Crow Laws were implemented all over the country and worked as a means to highlight the inferiority of African-Americans in relation to whites. Jim Crow Laws segregated blacks and whites by forcing people to use separate public facilities (schools, trains, buses, restrooms, water fountains, etc.) and banned blacks from patronizing various businesses. Jim Crow Laws lasted well into the 1960s.

Opposition to the Fifteenth Amendment as it not only affected African-Americans but poor whites as well. Numerous states enacted the Grandfather Clause, which prevented most blacks from voting unless the could prove their grandfather voted in the 1860 election; poll taxes (where a tax would be paid in order to vote) and literacy tests (tests to prove a voter could read and write) were given as well.

Despite the opposition African-Americans faced and continue to face in regards to equal rights, the Reconstruction Era brought them out of the bonds of slavery and closer to being considered full citizens under the law of the United States.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Removal of Confederate Statues

As I sit here in my local Starbucks in Upstate New York, sipping a vanilla cappuccino, I think about how far removed I am from what goes on in other parts of the country. Here, we don't see protests or the tearing down of monuments; here, we don't see a plethora of vehicles or people bearing the Stars and Bars unless a big country act comes to the performing arts center. I'm not going to play the part of a keyboard warrior, but it is my responsibility as a historian to make sure the stories of our past do not go unrecognized, especially in times like these. So, I thought it would be appropriate to share the history of the Confederate statues, however briefly, and what they truly represent.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) was founded in 1894 as a hereditary organization of Southern women. The UDC was founded to commemorate Confederate soldiers, and by doing this the organization would erect monuments and promote the Lost Cause movement (a myth where the Confederate cause was described as heroic and as a cause against great odds; a noble cause; a cause to uphold the Southern way of life; and a cause that would begin the white supremacy/white Southern nationalist "movements"). The aims of the UDC were to create a social network, memorialize the war, maintain a truthful record of the achievements of the Confederate veterans, and teaching history with a pro-Confederate bend to the next generation of children. The UDC was influenced by other women's groups who organized the burial of Confederate soldiers and established permanent Confederate cemeteries.

So where do the statues and the current controversies come into play? The UDC was extremely successful at raising money to build monuments, rebury Confederate dead in permanent cemeteries, influencing the content of history books in that era, and more. By the time World War I rolled around in the early 1900s, membership in the UDC had grown to 100,000 members.

Today, as we see the fall of Confederate statues, the UDC has denounced the actions of hate groups for using symbols of the Confederacy, but also continues to urge that the statues remain standing as a part of this shared American history.

As a young historian, I understand the ease with which we can look at the people of the past and superimpose our 21st century standards of morality, thoughts, and beliefs onto them. However, we must remember that the people of the past are dead and gone, and their actions in the 19th century did make a difference on the culture of America but others are trying to make a difference now.

What are your thoughts on the Confederate statue conundrum? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reconstruction, What's Your Function?

In the spring of 1865, the Civil War was finally over. Upon agreement of the terms of surrender, Union General Ulysses S. Grant declared, “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” At the close of the war, the South was in shambles; much of the South’s landscape and infrastructure had been destroyed, and the economy needed rebuilding. Some four million African-Americans had been freed from bondage during the war, but in December of 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery everywhere. Now that the war was over, the nation had to come together once again. The Civil War resulted in many things: slavery was abolished, there was a disruption to the economy, the plantation system had been eliminated, and race relations in the South had been upended. The defeated Confederacy had to come to terms with a new way of life as the United State entered into the Reconstruction Era.

The Reconstruction Era ran from 1865 to 1877, and it was a period of political and social turbulence that had long-lasting implications for life in America. Questions about the nature of freedom, equality, and opportunity would be asked and answered in this era. A major question that would be asked was: what would be the fate of the African-Americans? What would be their status in this new America

To many Americans, the Civil War was a social revolution because the once-dominant influence of the southern planters had been reduced, and the North’s “captains of industry” had been elevated, paving the way for an industrialized American. During and after the Civil War, the US government began to align itself with the interests of corporate leaders (which we still very much see today). As a result of this, Congress was able to centralize national power, create a unified banking systems and currency, build the first transcontinental railroad, enacted the Homestead Act in 1862 to encourage westward expansion (giving free federal homesteads of 160 acres to settlers, who had to occupy the land for a minimum of five years), and colleges of “agricultural and mechanic arts) were founded.

Things in the post-war South were not so good. The Civil War left the South almost permanently changed; property values went through the floor, Confederate bonds were worthless, many railroads had been damaged or completely destroyed, and emancipation wiped out $4 billion that had been invested in slavery and uprooted the labor system. The crops suffered as well—cotton production didn’t amass to the 1860 record harvest until 1879; tobacco production didn’t reach its pre-war level until 1880; sugar production didn’t recover until 1893; and rice production has never recovered. That wasn’t all that the South endured—many people were left destitute and homeless, and families were broken with loss of sons and husbands.

In the South, the newly freed slave suffered; they weren’t slaves anymore, but they weren’t really considered citizens either. In March of 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to deal with the issues of food, clothing, and fuel—many Northerners believed the newly freed African-Americans needed those necessities of life before they needed citizenship. In May of that year, the Freedmen’s Bureau was created to help former slaves find work and better themselves. The Freedmen’ Bureau was sent to the South to negotiate labor contracts, provide medical care, distribute food, and set up schools. Radical prejudice in the South often threw off the efforts of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Share cropping became famous/infamous in the South—former slave owners would write contracts and hire back a portion of their former slaves to work on the land (planting, cultivating, and harvesting) and keep a portion of the crop, but if the African-Americans left or tried to quit, they voided the contract and lost everything; share cropping was a way for the planter elites to bring back slavery, as they were determined to continue to control the African-Americans.

Political Reconstruction

Toward the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which stated the terms the South needed to complete to re-enter the Union and be forgiven for the war. The rebel states, at least 10% of each state’s population, had to swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Union, and must receive a presidential pardon; participants also had to swear support to the laws that dealt with emancipation. However there were many people that were excluded by the pardon: Confederate officers of the army and navy; government officials, judges, Congressmen, and military officers who left their posts to aid the rebellion; and those who failed to treat captured African-American soldiers and officers as proper prisoners of war.

Lincoln was trying to immediately restore the country. Most moderate Republicans supported Lincoln’s program; however, radical Republicans wanted a sweeping transformation of southern society—to dismantle the planter elite and the Democratic Party.

Lincoln’s Assassination

Not everyone was happy with the outcome of the war or the roll-out of Reconstruction. One man in particular took his anger out in a devastating way—by killing President Lincoln.

On the evening of April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary went to see the play “My American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater. As the play was well underway, a man named John Wilkes Booth (an actor and Confederate sympathizer) slipped into the President’s box, which was unguarded as the police officer that should have been guarding it had left his post. Booth aimed his pistol and shot President Lincoln point-blank in the back of the head. Leaping from the balcony, Booth yelled “Sic semper tyrannis”, which is short for “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis” meaning “Thus always I bring death to tyrants”. Booth broke one of his legs on the landing, but managed to mount a waiting horse and escape the city. Booth would later be found and killed in a barn fire.

Lincoln died nine hours after he had been shot, and his Vice President Andrew Johnson had to finish Lincoln’s second term.

Andrew Johnson was an interesting guy. A pro-Union Democrat from Tennessee, he was put on the 1864 election ticket as a gesture of unity. Johnson was short tempered, bigoted, and an alcoholic, but he was loyal to the Union and was a strict Constitutionalist. Johnson’s plan to restore the Union was similar to that of Lincoln; he had an amnesty proclamation that not only had barred the same people that Lincoln did from pardon, but also barred everyone who had taxable property worth $20,000 or more…but those landowners could apply for pardon, and before1865 had ended Johnson pardoned 13,000 people. Johnson’s plan for readmitting the former Confederate states differed from Lincoln’s; the secession ordinances had to be abolished, and each state had to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, bringing an end to slavery.

Many of the former slave holding states did not want to abolish slavery because the African-Americans would be on their way to becoming full-fledged citizens, so a way they got around treating the African-Americans like full citizens was by the drafting and enacting of black codes. Black codes were intended to preserve slavery as nearly as possible, and to show that there was a distinction between blacks and whites. On the one hand, marriages were legally recognized, blacks could own property, and they could sue and be sued in the courts; on the other hand, interracial marriages were prohibited as well as miscegenation (the blending of races via natural reproduction…so mixed race children and families were often hidden from the general population), blacks could not own farmland in Mississippi or South Carolina, blacks needed special licenses to practice trades in Mississippi, blacks who worked for whites needed a contract to do so, and blacks who were unemployed could be jailed or forced to work in the fields (many whites would not hire blacks just for this purpose).

Knowing what was going on in the South in response to the Thirteenth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified on July 28, 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment eliminated any doubt as to the citizenship of African-Americans, and it guaranteed basic citizenship for all Americans.

The Reconstructed South

African-Americans in the post-war South affected the course of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction Era didn’t diminish or even try to hide racial tensions; the Southern whites seemed to not understand that freedom for blacks meant the same freedom they themselves had experienced. The Civil War brought an end to slavery but it didn’t bring an end to the exploitation and abuse of black; whites often use terror, intimidation, and violence to suppress blacks as they were trying to carve out lives of social and economic equality.

African-Americans in the post-war South sought to better their lives, so they established churches and schools within their communities to educate their spiritual and intellectual selves. It was common for these churches and schools to be set on fire and burned to the ground; and it was well-known that the schools were getting old, out-of-date books and dilapidated desks from white schools, so these schools, unfortunately, were not equal to other schools in the area. White opposition to black churches and schools just led to more people determined to educate themselves and their future generations. More people were entering the teaching profession to ensure that these African-American people were getting the education that they needed and deserved to succeed in their lives.

The Grant Years

In 1868 Ulysses S. Grant, the famed Union general of the Civil War, won the presidency. At this point in our nation’s history, Grant was the youngest to be elected president at 46-years-old. Taking office shortly after the war ended, and being so young, Grant was often blind to what was going on around him politically, instead relying on Congress to lead the way.

Grant’s presidency was dominated by financial issues. The Republican platform of the election of 1868 urged payment of the national debt in gold. The Democrats believed that since the national debt grew with the purchase of war bonds, which had been bought with depreciated “greenbacks” that the debt should be paid with greenbacks rather than gold. After the war, the Treasury had assumed that the $432 million worth of greenback that had been issued would be retired from circulation and the US would revert to a hard-money currency system—gold coins. Many people were not pleased with this idea, because they believed that eliminating greenbacks would make repaying debts more difficult. Grant sided with hard-money advocates and in March of 1869, Grant signed the Public Credit Act, which stated that the national debt must be paid in gold.

Financial issues weren’t all that plagued Grant’s presidency. Grant also had to deal with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Organized in 1866, the KKK began as a social club, but its members soon turned to intimidation of blacks and white Republicans. The KKK spread throughout the South where they spread rumors, issued threats, harassed African-Americans, and wreaked havoc and destruction. The KKK targeted prominent Republicans, white and black alike. The KKK committed murders, and carried out whippings and lynchings. Grant signed into the law the three-part Enforcement Acts in 1870, which levied penalties on anyone who interfered with a citizen’s right to vote, placed the election on Congressmen under surveillance by federal election supervisors, and the KKK’s activities were outlawed.

Grant was a two-term president, and the issues that plagued his first term remained for the second term as well. Economic problems struck as greenbacks were eliminated from circulation. People were investing heavily in railroads, but railroad bonds would turn sour as 25railroads defaulted on their interest payments and a prestigious investment bank went bankrupt in 1837. Investors eager to get cash for their depreciating bonds caused the stock market to close for ten days. The panic of 1873, as this event would come to be known, caused a six-year long economic depression. Thousands of businesses went bankrupt, millions of people lost their jobs and homes, and people blamed the Republican party for the panic.

The year 1876 was another election year. The Republicans put up Rutherford B. Hayes and the Democrats put up Samuel J. Tilden. Both candidates favored a move toward a relaxed national government. The 1876 election generated the most votes in US history up to that point. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won, due in large part to a secret deal; the Republicans had promised that if Hayes won the election that he would withdraw the last federal/Union troops from South Carolina and Louisiana, letting the Republican-controlled governments there collapse, in return the Democrats would withdraw their opposition to Hayes and accept the Reconstruction amendments.

The End of Reconstruction

In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes took office as President. Just as was agreed upon, Hayes withdrew federal troops from South Carolina and Louisiana, and their Republican-controlled governments collapsed soon after. Over the next 30 years, the protection of blacks’ rights in the South crumbled as white rule was restored.

Despite the trials faced in the decade after the Civil War, Reconstruction did leave a legacy…the ratification of the Thirteenth (ending slavery), Fourteenth (citizenship, equal rights, and equal protections of former slaves and their descendants), and Fifteenth (voting rights) Amendments, creating a foundation for future advances in civil rights and social equality. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Women's Roles in the Civil War

Hello readers! I know I've been away for a while and haven't updated in weeks, but that's because I'm still on the journey to earning my Master's Degree in American History. I have a few days off before my third term of graduate school starts, so I thought I'd post a few entries to this blog to keep you guys on your toes and learning about this great country. One of the courses I just finished up was a course on the Civil War, which was appropriate since that's where we've been in this blog on the timeline of American history. To keep going with the Civil War, before we delve into Reconstruction as promised in the last post, I thought it would be beneficial to post about women's roles in the Civil War. This post is the bulk of my final paper for my Civil War, complete with citations of the sources I used. Enjoy!

From 1861 to 1865, a civil war ravaged the United States. The war would pit brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor, as each side fought for what they believed in. As the battles raged in the South and in the mid-west, the home front was an active place as well, as women worked to move along their war efforts. Clara Barton, “the Angel of the Battlefield” and founder of the American Red Cross, is quoted as having said, “This conflict is one thing I’ve been waiting for. I’m well and strong and young—young enough to go to the front. If I can’t be a soldier, I’ll help soldiers” and that is what she and others have done. History tends to forget the actions of women, with many believing that the actions and sacrifices of women are lesser compared to those of their male counterparts. This historiographical account, Women in War: The Varied Roles of Women in the Civil War” will seek to answer the following questions: What were the various roles women had to take on during the American Civil War? How did women, Union and Confederate, react to the war? What were women’s thoughts as they had to take on numerous roles during the war era? The Civil War effected different groups of women differently, and this paper will focus on the women of the Union and the Confederacy. Historiography on topics of women’s history need to be explored more, and it is my hope that this paper will assist in bringing insight into the lives of Union and Confederate women.  
As several states began to secede from the United States in late 1860, the tensions between the northern and southern states grew. Men prepared to go to war and women prepared to do what they needed to do—many followed men into battlefield, working as battlefield nurses and even as spies and soldiers; others stayed and ran their households, working the farms and plantations, taking care of livestock, taking care of children, and helping the war effort by making items to send to the soldiers on the warfront. Women on both sides of the conflict played major roles during this era, whether they followed the troops to battle or whether they remained at home. 
Women in the North mobilized for the war effort. “As most accounts went, brave women, having sent their husbands and sons to the war, scraped lint in church basements and scrimped on household necessities to produce socks, shirts, bedding, jams, and jellies for local soldiers’ aid societies. Society members carefully packed their gifts and forwarded them to the United States Sanitary Commission, the largest and best-known national war relief organization, which distributed them with utmost efficiency to grateful soldiers languishing in military hospitals…Other women left their cherished homes, venturing forth to nurse wounded soldiers in army hospitals or on hospital transports”1This work, the household manufacturing of supplies for use in army hospitals, was the most vital of the work the women in the North were participating in. Without these actions, the Union army would have struggled greatly, as many of these items were not provided by the government or were in short supply. Northern women also worked to raise money by making and selling goods, allowing for monetary donations to be sent to the armies. Of the actions Northern women performed on the homefront, the most important of these was the farming; after the men left, the women were responsible for the farms, growing grain for the army. Historians estimate that half of the U.S. Army at this time was comprised of farmers or farm laborers2at a time when the men had been called to war, women filled the void in order to ensure that the work the men left behind was still being completed. In 1863, two years into the Civil War, Isaac Newton, the commissioner of agriculture under Abraham Lincoln, made note that despite the war the productivity of Northern farms had not diminished, that “agricultural output remained high and employment in agriculture constant”3 
However, Northern women began to challenge the gender roles in which they were thrust. At this time, it was believed that women were gentle, nurturing, and benevolent, and these gendered beliefs were responsible for making the voluntary giving to the army and to relief societies obligatory. Though most middle-class women had been socialized to embrace charitable work as part of their duties, the value of such work rested on the premise that it was undertaken freely and with no constraints. But as the military conflict intensified and the commission’s demands for homefront donations escalated, women confronted, some for the first time, the consequences of a set of beliefs that deemed their benevolent and patriotic acts mere extensions of their biological nature. When the war placed heavy burdens on their household economies, many became resentful of these men’s assumptions about the ease with which they could continue to labor for the war”4. 
It was not merely through the manufacturing of goods for the war effort and the undertaking of women to become battlefield nurses that Northern women were able to mobilize for the war effort, women also went to war themselves. According to the Civil War Trust, estimates place female soldiers’ numbers between 400 and 7505 total between both sides of the conflict. The reasons why women joined the conflict as soldiers varied; for example, some women chose to follow their loved one into battle, others chose to fight because they believed in the cause(s) for which they were fighting and felt it was their patriotic duty to fight as well, and still others joined because of the promise of adventure and reliable wages6One of the most famous female Union soldiers was Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye, also known as Franklin Flint Thompson. Seelye, like others, disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army. One would think that it would be difficult for women to disguise themselves and fight in the war, but on the contrary; with the Victorian era well under way, the prevailing sentiments of that era were that soldiers sleep clothed, bathe separately, avoid public latrinesand avoid form-fitting clothing; the lack of facial hair was attributed to youth7. Women also worked undercover as spies; due to the prescribed gender norms of the era, women were thought to be genteel, nurturers, and benevolent givers; these assumptions create a false sense of security around women, that because of their nature they would not collect information and pass it on to the side they aligned themselves with.  
Despite many women taking active roles as soldiers and spies, the most important role they played on the battlefield was as nurses and even doctors. The most famous of the Union battlefield nurses is Clara Barton, who would go on to found the American Red Cross, and organization still in operation today. In an 1892 poem titled “The Women Who Went to the Field”, Barton described what she and other women witnessed during their time as battlefield nurses. In her poem, Clara Barton states how people felt about women going to war as battlefield nurses—a lot of people disagreed with the actions of those women because thy did not believe that women were capable of having to witness fighting and to mend wounded soldiers; a lot of people believed that women were best remaining on the homefront where they could pick some lint, and tear up some sheets, And make us some jellies, and send on their sweets, And knit some soft socks for Uncle Sam’s shoes, And write us some letters, and tell us the news”8; however, Barton also notes that things changed, but she was not sure how or why, just that countless women, many of whose names have been lost to history, decided to defy what men (and other women) had said about conforming to their gender roles.  
Although Clara Barton is the most famous of the battlefield nurses, there were others who sacrificed to tend to the wounded soldiers as well; one such woman was Mary Walker. Mary Walker became the first female surgeon during the Civil War. Walker was born and grew up in Oswego, New York and attended college at the Syracuse Medical CollegeWalker butted heads with numerous physicians who believed amputation to be a cure-all during the war, and believed that her duty was to do what was best for the soldiers, which was not always amputation9In 1862, Walker boarded a train to Washington, DC with sick and injured soldiers so they could acquire better care; while there, she noticed that numerous women were arriving to try to find loved ones they had not heard from in quite some time. These women often had nowhere to go and had little money, so Walker asked for donations from a women’s suffrage group in order to establish a home where women could stay while in Washington, DC10In 1865, Mary Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service, becoming the first, and only, woman to have received that honor.  
Northern women had done much for the war effort, but their Southern counterparts were not idle during the time of the war either. Southern women had to overcome numerous challenges just as women in the North had to overcome; but unlike the women of the North who fought for changes to society at the time of the fighting (and prior to the war as well), women in the South did their best to hold on to the traditions they had grown up with.  
In his book Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism, George C. Rable explains just how Southern women were different from their Northern counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, the women of the South were educated, came from wealthier families, and did have feminist leanings although they were not interested in joining feminist organizations; women in the South were deeply concerned with the changing climate of the South at the time of the Civil War and were extremely interested in keeping the traditions they had grown up with instead of trying to change their positions in society like their sisters in the North. Throughout the book, Rable explains how the women of the South did much to uphold their virtues than to undermine them in the changing times. In the South, girls faced pressures to marry11; have an abundance of children whether they wanted to or not12; run the homes without the same ability to escape from the cult of domesticity that the Northern women had13; for wives who wanted to no longer be married and have to face their daily grind, divorce was rarely an option unless the wife was injured or if there was proof of adultery, cruelty, or desertion on the husband’s part14; and church membership, which was one of the very few public activities that was freely open to women, often spoke of women having to forfeit their own wants and comforts for others15Due to these circumstances, many women in the South had feminist leanings, however they would keep their thoughts and beliefs to themselves, writing them down in their diaries for their eyes only, because they were not truly wanting to “rebel against [their] lot”16 
As the Civil War began, Southern women had to take on numerous roles. One role the women took on was that of the patriot woman, seen as offering up her husband and sons to a just cause and regretting that they did not birth enough sons to give to their country17. Other women took efforts to advance the cause by creating sewing circles where they could talk politics while they sewed uniforms and other such clothing items the soldiers needed; still, other women joined the war by becoming battlefield nurses, where they traveled with the armies and took care of the wounded and eased the suffering of the dying. Like their sisters in the North, the women of the South mobilized for the war effort, and some would travel with their men to wherever they went over the course of the war. Two Confederate women of note who followed their husbands to war were Laetitia Lafon Ashmore Nutt and Sarah Jane Estes. These women are noteworthy to the history of the Civil War because of their honesty when it comes to how they felt about following their husbands off to war. Nutt followed her husband across the Deep South with their three daughters in tow and often struggled to find lodgings close to her husband’s areas of operation; she would go on to recount how she was often exhausted and should have left her daughters with her mother so she could focus her efforts to the sick and wounded soldiers18Sarah Jane Estes did leave her children home when she left to follow her husband to war; however, she did not follow her husband completely on her own volition. Estes followed her husband in part because of her “women’s obligations”19; Confederate women felt the desire to hold on to their traditions, as previously stated in this paper, as opposed to using the changes during the war to bring on social changes of their ownIt is fascinating to believe that women felt more of an obligation to their husbands than to their children, especially in this time period where women were seen as nurturers and the caretakers of the home. “…Estes could not reconcile herself to failing as either wife or mother20and was frustrated with the choice she was obligated to make.  
Although the sacrifices these two women made were difficult situations for both, other women had to find accommodations with family during the war, especially if they lived in the towns and cities where the battles grew particularly close. Many women found it difficult to live with their relatives, however, the situation allowed for women to enter roles within society while keeping their traditions alive and well, such as discussing politics in salons and attending women-only colleges. As a response to the war, there was a sort of homespun revolution within the South, with Confederate women having to learn to spin yarn and to weave using a loom in order to make clothing for themselves, their children, the soldiers, and their slaves because mass produced manufactured goods were becoming increasingly difficult to come by; sewing and knitting became popular in the South among the women for the same reasons.  
Women in the South also helped out the war effort by volunteering as soldiers—disguising themselves as men and enlisting under false names—just as women in the North had done as well. In a 2011 article with the Smithsonian, Bonnie Tsui, the author of She went to the Field: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, described how women were able to disguise themselves and pass the physical tests to become soldiers: “The Confederacy never actually established an age requirement. So [women] bound their breasts if they had to, and just kind of layered on clothes, wore loose clothing, cut their hair short and rubbed dirt on their faces. They also kind of kept to themselves. The evidence that survived often describes them as aloof. Keeping to themselves certainly helped maintain the secret”21 
Life was not easy for the women in the Confederacy, and even Confederate women had to defend their property from the Confederate troops. In a 1907 book titled Confederate Women of Arkansas in the Civil War, Josephine Crump wrote a chapter titled “Two Brave Women”; in this chapter, Crump describes the hardships that Confederate women in the state of Arkansas endured during the war. Confederate women had to hide their stores of food so the Union soldiers, or event their own Confederate soldiers, would not take it, leaving the women with nothing. Crump wrote about a woman named Mrs. Parker who grew corn with the help of her son; during the war, food was scarce and Mrs. Parker knew that she had to hide the corn so others could not get to it and leave her with nothing, so she buried twelve bushels of corn on her property, only going into her stores once the men returned and would feed them with the corn22 
The roles of women in the South were just as varied as the roles women in the North had to take on, or chose to take on, during the war. At the time of the Civil War, women’s organization began to rise up, and these organizations would play a role during and after the war, particularly the organizations for abolition and women’s suffrage. 
Women’s organizations, particularly for abolition and suffrage, were very popular during the antebellum period and those efforts continued during and even after the Civil War as well. For many, joining these organizations was a way for the women’s voices to be heard in a time when they were still considered second-class citizens. Suffragettes utilized the heroic actions of women during the Civil War, those who fought, those who served as nurses and surgeons, and those who assisted in other ways, to highlight how women contributed much to the war effort and should be given full citizenship rights. In the book Neither Ballots Nor Bullets: Women Abolitionists and the Civil War, author Wendy Hamand Venet describes the ways women continued to fight for suffrage during the Civil War. Some of these women, such as Sarah Remond, would go on to write appeals to those living in England for sympathy for the North and for assistance in the war. “Remond often appealed to the sensibilities of white women by discussing the emotional and sexual abuse of female slaves…She declared that slavery denied to black Americans the natural rights inherent in the Declaration of Independence and reminded her listeners that black people had never been allowed to test their real capabilities…she emphasized that slavery was the cause of the conflict; abolition was the only basis for peace and prosperity”23The Civil War and the abolitionist movements paved the way for later feminist activities, such as suffrage for women, to flourish; it is important to highlight that the causes that women cared about were not placed on the backburner during the war, and that women on the homefront continued to fight for what they believed in in any capacity they could.  
As the Civil War came to an end, the women of the South were beginning to create ways in which they could preserve their traditions and way of life. One way in which they accomplished this feat was to ensure that no one forgot the war or its heroes.  
It was a goal of Southern women to memorialize the  Confederacy and the lost cause of the Confederacy, but no one individual did as much work to memorialize the Confederacy and the idealistic antebellum period than the group the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, or UDC, was founded in 1894 to preserve Confederate culture. In Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate to preserve Confederate culture and tradition. The Lost Cause of the Confederacy romanticized the “Old South” and the Confederate war effort; there are six tenants of the Lost Cause, according to Caroline E. Janney, an assistant professor of history at Purdue University. Writing for the Encyclopedia Virginia in partnership with the Library of Virginia, Janney writes that the six tenants of the Lost Cause myth are: “1. Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War. 2. African Americans were “faithful slaves”, loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom.  3. The Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources. 4. Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly. 5. The most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee. 6. Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones. The historical consensus, however, presents a picture that is far more complicated, one in which some tenets of the Lost Cause are obviously false and some are at least partly true”24However, the women of the South were deeply involved in the perpetuation of this Lost Cause myth. In particular, the UDC were responsible for raising money in order for Confederate soldiers to have proper burials; the UDC also successfully campaigned to build monuments in almost every city, town, and state in the former Confederacy…Monuments were central to the UDC’s campaign to vindicate Confederate men, just as they were part of an overall effort to preserve the values still revered by white southerners”25. The members of the UDC were educated upper-class Southern women, and a goal they established aside from fundraising for monuments and to ensure that the war dead received proper burials was education; to ensure that the younger generation and that future generations would know the causes for which the Confederacy fought during the Civil War, numerous women entered into the education profession. 
Although the Civil War remains one of the bloodiest conflicts in history, there were benefits that women achieved because of the war. In an 1894 speech titled “What women did for the war and what we did for women” given by Josiah H. Benton, Jr., the Civil War is described as the “father of all things” because from it women were able to compete with men in occupations they previously would not have been able to find employment, and women were able to gain a political voice because of the war as well.  
Civil War is a field that continues to grow in breadth and depth. The primary sources used in this paper highlight how far women were able to advance their social status at the time and the actions they took to accomplish those feats. The secondary sources used in this paper highlight just how Civil War historiography, particularly when it comes to the varies roles women played during this time, has grown in recent years, as the bulk of the secondary sources utilized in this paper were 30 years old or newer. With the continued racial tensions in the United States over the last 30 or so years, it is important to understand the causes of the Civil War and what the people who were involved accomplished. Women are half of the world’s population, yet they are often left out of the narrative of history because many people believed that their contributions were not to the extent of the men who fought and even made the ultimate sacrifice. In a time when history and historical memory are being altered or attempted to be eliminated, we must remember the causes of the Civil War and we must remember the actions everyone took in regards to the war.  


Primary Sources
Clara Barton, “The Women Who Went to the Field”, 1892,   
Josephine Crump, “Two Brave Women”, an excerpt from the book                                                 Confederate Women of Arkansas in the Civil War, 1907. Digital Public Library of         America.  
Josiah H. Benton, Jr. “What women did for the war and what we did for women”, excerpt from a             speech given in 1894. Digital Public Library of America.                   

Secondary Sources (books)
Jeanie Attie, Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War (Ithaca: Cornell                       University Press, 1998).

Judith Giesburg, Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (Chapel            Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).
Elizabeth D. Leonard, Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War (New York: W.W. Norton          & Company, 1994).
George C. Rable, Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism, (Urbana: University          of Illinois Press, 1989).
Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War                                                                                                                                              (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 1996).
Wendy Hamand Vent, Neither Ballots Nor Bullets: Women Abolitionists and the Civil War                     (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991).

Secondary Sources (websites)
“Female Soldiers in the Civil War”,
Jess Righthand, “The Women Who Fought in the Civil War”,  April 7, 2011,   
Caroline E. Janney, “The Lost Cause”,

[1] Jeanie Attie, Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), pg. 2.
[2] Judith Giesburg, Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), pg. 6.
[3] Ibid, pg. 1.
[4] Jeanie Attie, Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), pg. 125.
[5] “Female Soldiers in the Civil War”,,  accessed 5/25/2017.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Clara Barton, “The Women Who Went to the Field”, 1892,, accessed 5/26/2017.
[9] Elizabeth D. Leonard, Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994), pg. 124.
[10] Ibid, pg. 125.
[11] George C. Rable, Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), pg. 8.
[12] Ibid, pg. 9.
[13] Ibid, pg. 10.
[14] Ibid, pg. 11.
[15] Ibid, pg. 13.
[16] Ibid, pg. 16.
[17] Ibid, pg. 50.
[18] Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 1996), pg. 35.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid, p. 36.
[21] Jess Righthand, “The Women Who Fought in the Civil War”,  April 7, 2011,, accessed 5/30/2017.
[22] Josephine Crump, “Two Brave Women”, an excerpt from the book Confederate Women of Arkansas in the Civil War, 1907. Digital Public Library of America., accessed 5/31/2017.
[23] Wendy Hamand Vent, Neither Ballots Nor Bullets: Women Abolitionists and the Civil War (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991), pg. 66.
[24] Caroline E. Janney, “The Lost Cause”,, accessed 6/2/2017.
[25] Karen Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003), pg. 49. 

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