Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slave-Holding South in the American Civil War epub – Vansonphu.com


Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slave-Holding South in the American Civil War This book, written by Harvard s first female president, offers a historical survey of elite Southern women during the Civil War as read through their letters, diaries, citywide decrees, women s societies, and a variety of other popular and legal sources The portrait is not flattering Faust debunks the myth that many white Southern women centralized production in their homes war home factories , that they successfully made their own products i.e., especially cloth , that they managed their This book, written by Harvard s first female president, offers a historical survey of elite Southern women during the Civil War as read through their letters, diaries, citywide decrees, women s societies, and a variety of other popular and legal sources The portrait is not flattering Faust debunks the myth that many white Southern women centralized production in their homes war home factories , that they successfully made their own products i.e., especially cloth , that they managed their plantations well, or that they significantly impacted nursing and other professions Essentially, Southern women subscribed to an ideology of helplessness and frailty that relied on white masculinity for its defense They didn t want , for the most part, to be independent they would have much rather preferred being protected and enclosed in the safe hoop of patriarchy The Civil War required them to step up into position of independence and assertiveness, and at first, women protested and withdrew They could barely manage their slaves, resorted to impulsive, emotional outbursts, and otherwise failed for the most part, though of course there are always exceptions to transgress existing gender boundaries However, by the end of the war, elite white women were tired of relying on a white masculinity that seemed to be failing in protecting their identities Bitter and disillusioned, they began tentatively constructing their own identities, but not as their northern sisters hadout of spite and anger at conditions, their actions were rooted in the distinctive Southern experience of poverty and failure According to Drew Gilpin Faust, writing about and researching the history of elites is a topic that lately has not been considered fashionable, but one she takes interest in with her book Mothers of Invention Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War In Drew s estimation, the Civil War changed the roles of white women, particularly elite white women, in society The war altered what kind of work they did, how their marriages functioned, and what they expected of themselves According to Drew Gilpin Faust, writing about and researching the history of elites is a topic that lately has not been considered fashionable, but one she takes interest in with her book Mothers of Invention Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War In Drew s estimation, the Civil War changed the roles of white women, particularly elite white women, in society The war altered what kind of work they did, how their marriages functioned, and what they expected of themselves In her epilogue, Faust connects the changes wrought by the Civil War to the impending feminist movement in the South, one that was tied to shared white unity with white men Faust has a very engaging style because of how heavily she incorporates the writings of Southern women The mass of diaries, letters, and reports they wrote were clearly instrumental in writing this book, and it would not have been the same without them Being able to directly reference their deepest thoughts makes it much easier to understand what was going on at the time though in the back of my mind I could never forget that most of them were slaveholders, and almost assuredly all of them were horribly racist Despite the heavy use of good source material though, there are two issues with how Faust supports her argument First, she seems to have trouble letting the sources speak for themselves She seems unable to present crucial evidence without saying how tellingly or revealingly the women are writing Her interpretation vacillates between too heavy handed and rather oblivious At times, therefore, she even contradicts herself, and that is my second issue with the book Faust does not always pay attention to the evidence itself She spends an entire section in Chapter Six writing about the homoerotic relationships between young girls in the South, using primary evidence that in any other context would be considered very romantic and sexual Quotes like I dreamed the other night, dear, and I actually thought myself kissing you when I awoke to find it all an idle dream, or I encircled her waist with my own arm, and thought Oh, if her heart could only reciprocate the love which mine could yield to her, these read immediately as romantic relationships Yet Faust dismisses them out of hand, saying that at the time such expressions represented a sensitivity and authenticity of feeling celebrated in this sentimental mid Victorian era as appropriate to true friendship as much as true love Why could both not exist simultaneously All the evidence Faust presents up to that point seems to say bisexual and lesbian relationships were alive and well, which is an interesting part of history we rarely see no doubt in part due to the erasure those groups receive in society today Faust seems to contradict herself in then saying these explicitly erotic dreams and actions between women were nothingthan friendship Similarly, it becomes difficult to follow or take seriously Faust s argument when she flip flops between her arguments regarding working women First she spends nearly a whole chapter Chapter Four writing about how elite, white women went to work, particularly in hospitals She evidences many letters and diary entries about women unexpectedly taking on this dirty work, and even implicitly praises them for it Faust s seeming admiration for these white women of the South is something I also take issue with, but there s not enough space here to address it But toward the end of the chapter, she suddenly changes her stance and says Serious, committed, long term hospital work remained the domain of these exceptional women And, she adds, For all their undeniable and important contributions, it was not the Confederacy s ladies but its African Americans who cared for the South s fallen heroes Why not focuson them, then Even somethingthan this tiny, incidental mention at the end of the chapter would have added immensely to whatever she is trying to say Again and again this happens, with Faust undecided or conflicted on what she is trying to say In Chapter Five, she writes extensively and movingly about how the separation of husbands and wives served to strengthen their relationships, making the wives bothindependent, and causing both to beappreciative of each other as war tends to do Abruptly toward the end of the chapter though, she suddenly takes a totally different tact, saying, wives desperately missed the emotional and material support they had taken for granted as their husbands obligations In terms of evidence, Faust works with an amazing number of primary sources in the realm of 500 women, she says , and it shows The interpretation is severely lacking, though Faust herself does not seem to know what she wants to say, or what the women themselves felt And though people are complex, and there certainly may have been a variety of attitudes, the book is worse off for it when Faust simultaneously builds and then destroys her own arguments I do agree with Faust s initial argument, but the way she attempts to prove it is too roundabout to be effective Very clearly written just like our history papers were in college Each chapter tackles a part of the subject so you can put the book down and pick it up over a long period of time and not be lost.Faust debunks the romantic belief lots of us have that the majority of Southern women supported the war effort gladly I liked that there was no judgment placed by the author on ladies behavior during the war but the portrait did end up being not very flattering. There s poetry that makes you love poetry, and novels that make you love novels and history books that make you love reading history And this is one of them a fascinating, absorbing book about the changes the Civil War wrought on the culture of the American south Death and hoopskirts and drudgery, fear and self worth and deprivation and nursing and class wars, expectations, wimping out and grief and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps Anyone with the teensiest inclination to read this sh There s poetry that makes you love poetry, and novels that make you love novels and history books that make you love reading history And this is one of them a fascinating, absorbing book about the changes the Civil War wrought on the culture of the American south Death and hoopskirts and drudgery, fear and self worth and deprivation and nursing and class wars, expectations, wimping out and grief and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps Anyone with the teensiest inclination to read this shall be rewarded The war was a huge wake up call for women in the south, who found out how necessity transforms people And it was terrible And it was good In the summer of 1862 Sarah Morgan of Louisiana confided to her diary that she had been considering trying on her absent brother s clothes Jimmy s suit had been hanging in her armoire for six weeks when at last she was emboldened to remove it I advanced so far, she reported, as to lay it on th bed But she turned aside to take her pet bird from the room I was ashamed to let even my canary see me When she returned to contemplate the suit, my courage deserted me, and there ended my first and last attempt at disguise I have heard so many girls boast of having worn men s clothes I wonder where they get the courage Excellent and very well written research and scholarship Says a few things that need to be said about the institution of slavery, and the true nature of the Confederacy.First of all, set aside any romantic Scarlett O Hara style notions of Confederate ladies as spunky gals who would do anything to support their Boys in Grey, protect their children, and maintain their way of life Based on the fantastic array of letters, journals and other writing from every corner of the Confederacy, most of Excellent and very well written research and scholarship Says a few things that need to be said about the institution of slavery, and the true nature of the Confederacy.First of all, set aside any romantic Scarlett O Hara style notions of Confederate ladies as spunky gals who would do anything to support their Boys in Grey, protect their children, and maintain their way of life Based on the fantastic array of letters, journals and other writing from every corner of the Confederacy, most of these women were whiny, pathetic and unbelievably lazy Their social standing meant everything, and their social standing was based upon being weak and fragile ladies, capable of doing nothing that could be described as real work.That included looking after their own children Lizzie Neblett, cited in the book s description as a housewife facing a life of physical labor for the first time, is forced to look after her own children, when her slaves run away, and writes unapologetically about beating her 10 month old daughter.There were exceptions, of course, women who were prepared to risk social ostracism as nurses, joining the ranks of common women and slaves who were considered suitable for such lowly, demeaning work Women who felt liberated by the disruption of the paternalistic system of the antebellum South, as they had to take responsibility for their lives for, perhaps, the first time Women who began, however, haltingly, to recognize that the evil of slavery had brought them to this.I have one relatively minor criticism the subtitle, I think, could be misleading The women Faust focuses on are the women of the slave holding elite, whose who, in their own eyes, were the aristocracy of the South Their attitude to ordinary, working class Southerners is very revealing of the con that this masterclass of slaveowners managed to perpetrate pursuading those they considered their social inferiors to fight and die for a system that held them down This book gives an idea of what the home front of the Southern side of the American Civil War was like for those who didn t head into battle The home front in the south was largely female and many found themselves forced to take on roles only their male counterparts had ever partaken This must have been especially hard for the wealthy elite as their way of life was turned upside down. A New York Times Notable Book of the YearWinner of the Francis Parkman PrizeWinner of the Avery Craven PrizeIn the ante bellum South, women from elite slaveholding families were raised to consider themselves not so much as women but as ladies, models of dependent femininity But that ideal was to prove impossible to maintain during the social upheaval of the Civil War, when they found themselves suddenly assuming unaccustomed roles as workers, protectors, and providers Through the use of hundreds of moving and eloquent letters, memoirs, and diary excerpts, Drew Gilpin Faust, one of the foremost historians of the American South, illuminates the lives of a wide array of Confederate women from Lizzie Neblett, a housewife facing a life of physical labor for the first time, to Sallie Tompkins, a Virginia aristocrat turned military nurse, to Belle Boyd, a ruthless teenaged spy An intensely personal work of scholarship, Mothers of Invention gives voice to the hitherto silent half of the Confederacy s ruling class and explains how its ethos continues to influence the lives of Southern women even today A dramatically revealing study Faust looks directly at the past, with a daughter s hard, steady gaze, and with a daughter s generous heart New York Times Book Review Fascinating look at the lives of white slave owning women in the south during the Civil War Women had been raised to be dependent and helpless All of a sudden the men all vanished and they had to cope on their own Along with having to do things their husbands would have taken care of, they had to start doing a lot of the work around the house they were unaccustomed to doing as well as untrained to do The letters and journals of women across the south weave a fascinating story. This is an EXCELLENT book from the perspective of women during the Civil War particularly in the south The author effectively portrays the plight of widows, wives, children, etc during America s worst war It sounds like a boring book, but is actually one of the best I have ever read on the Civil War An excellent read. Writtenas academic than popular non fiction this book was a tad dry to read but I was interested enough in the subject matter to persevere to the end Drew Gilpin Faust examined how the roles of affluent Confederate women changed drastically during the Civil War after the men left to serve in the Confederate Army Restrictions of race, class and gender kept them prim and proper before the war but now they had to manage the plantation and discipline the slaves And they failed.Chapter 3 En Writtenas academic than popular non fiction this book was a tad dry to read but I was interested enough in the subject matter to persevere to the end Drew Gilpin Faust examined how the roles of affluent Confederate women changed drastically during the Civil War after the men left to serve in the Confederate Army Restrictions of race, class and gender kept them prim and proper before the war but now they had to manage the plantation and discipline the slaves And they failed.Chapter 3 Enemies in Our Households Confederate Women and Slavery was the most interesting section As the war progressed the agriculture industry in the South suffered and it was not uncommon for slaves to leave Some mistresses were devastated and perplexed yet they remained completely clueless Eva Jones was distraught when three female slaves seized their freedom without bidding any of us an affectionate adieu The first only meal my mother ever cooked her daughter Emma Prescott remembered, was the day after the negros all left Mother went into the kitchen to cook breakfast She sifted some flour into the tray and stood, thinking what to do next when an old negro man appeared at the window said laws mistis is you cooking breakfast No I am not come in here and get it for me which he did A Louisiana lady who had never even so much as washed out a pocket handkerchief with my own hands suddenly had to learn to do laundry for her entire family.They had to learn from scratch how to cook and clean after their slaves left I couldn t stop laughing and I felt no sympathy for them


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