Karen Cox on the United Daughters of the Confederacy

Karen Cox, William Blair and others recently spoke at the “The Legacy of Stones River: Remembering the Civil War" which was held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Cox is the author of the excellent book, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation
of Confederate Culture
(University of Florida Press, 2003).  The book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the social make-up of the organization over time and its agenda.  This article provides an overview of her talk and a preview of the book:

The United Daughters of the Confederacy was an outgrowth of the various
benevolent aid societies and ladies memorial groups that developed during and
after the war, Cox said.  Initially these groups had worked to aid the war
effort and to help the widows and children of Confederate soldiers who died in
battle.
The ladies memorial groups were centered on bereavement and to
returning the bodies of the war dead from far-flung battlefields. It wasn’t
until the South had been returned to home rule that the real vindication efforts
began.  Vindication was an important goal of the UDC, which was founded
just up the road in Nashville, Cox said.  The National Association of the
Daughters of the Confederacy was organized in Nashville on Sept.10, 1894, by
founders Caroline Meriwether Goodlett of Nashville and Anna Davenport Raines of
Georgia. At its second meeting in Atlanta, in 1895, the organization changed its
name to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  “The two founders …
their career was the Lost Cause,” Cox said. “From the beginning this would be a
very elite organization.”

The general goals of the group were:


To memorialize those who fought for and fell in battle for the Confederate
cause.

• To preserve the history of the “War Between States.”

• To
educate future generations about the Confederacy from a pro-Southern
viewpoint.

• Social in nature. The group even had blackball provisions to
keep out women who weren’t from the top social strata.

We’ve only recently begun to look at the role that elite white Southern women took in shaping the contours of the Lost Cause and in turn shaping the way we think about the Civil War.  A closer look at these organizations also provides insight into the extent and limits of political action among Southern white women.  I am looking forward to the publication of Caroline Janney’s study of the Ladies Memorial Associations which were active in the years following the end of the war. 

3 thoughts on “Karen Cox on the United Daughters of the Confederacy

  1. Kevin Levin

    Professor Cox, — Nice to hear from you. Given your research interests I hope you found this weblog to be worth the time spent. I believe we have a mutual friend in Tom Ward who now teaches at Rockhurst University.

    Reply

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