All the Southern Ladies. Put your hands up!

Southern Belle
A Southern Belle
Harper’s Weekly, September 7, 1861

The culture of the antebellum South famously put women on a pedestal, but women often expressed strong political sentiments. While they couldn’t vote in any state North or South (and even the abolition movement in the North often regarded the issue of women’s suffrage as a distraction), they could express their views:

From the Fayetteville Arkansian, August 24, 1860:

A Patriotic Lady.—We learn that a Douglas flag is stretched across the Main Street, in our sister city of Van Buren. A lady passing along the street, discovering it, would not pass under it, but took another street. We are well acquainted with the lady but will not give her name, although we would like to do so. We admire her spunk.—Times.

In much of the South, Douglas was persona non grata, mainly because he had “betrayed” the Democratic party by opposing the Lecompton Constitution and supporting popular sovereignty (generally referred to in Southern papers as “squatter sovereignty” — note that controlling the terminology is still a popular political ploy. See “death tax.”)

The contest in the South was thus primarily between Breckinridge’s faction of the Democrats, advocating a territorial slave code, and Bell’s Constitutional Union party. Each of these parties claimed to be the party that would preserve the Union, and at the same time preserve slavery.

DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], August 25, 1860, p. 2, c. 1

[“]Suggestion to the Union Ladies of Boston.—It will be seen by the letter of one of our correspondents to-day that a Union Club has been formed in the city of New Orleans called the Everett Rangers, composed of young men of the highest respectability and purest patriotism. It would be a graceful thing on the part of the ladies of Boston to contribute funds, and send to the New Orleans Rangers a banner. Such a gift from Boston would be appropriate. Let some patriotic lady take the lead in this matter at once.—Boston Courier.[“]
The suggestion is a good one. It would met a generous and sincere response from the Union loving and always loyal cities of the Crescent. The most interesting, and poetic incident in the last campaign, was that which took place on the neutral water, between Kentucky, Indiana and other states, whose political captains have labored long to alienate their friendship for one another and fraternal feeling for the Union. Each State found a representative in the fair daughters of the West—typical of the great and glorious sisterhood. Miss Elizabeth Dye, represented the Sugar Bowl of the Union. Sweet representative of the sacharine [sic] principle! How, the gallant heart of our chivalric sons, yearned towards her—how each became ambitious to stand by her if needs be, as another John of Arc, in defence of the common heretage [sic],–the Constitution and the Union! Did the gallant Crescent, allow this beautiful incident to pass by, without a fit ane proper memento? No, they sent off and employed the most skillful and curious workmen, who taxed their ingenuity and brought forth the handsomest bracelet, rich in ripe fruit, of the Sunny South, imprinted in virgin gold and studded with rarest gems. This was presented Miss Elizabeth—not for its worth in dollars; but that it might serve as a memento, fit and appropriate, to hand down to others who may come after, the fair recipient, as an evidence of the staunch, loyal and true heart of Louisiana.
Rant gentlemen as you may—tear your undergarments as you can, on the subject of dissolving the silver threads, and golden bands that unite us as one people. Louisiana, for one will be very slow to act the boy’s part of getting mad and making a bootless effort to walk out of the Union. Others may go if they like, and stand not on the order of their going, they may erect mole hills and mud banks and dig trenches, to hold their own water and separate their own hills from others to which they have been united by Infinite Wisdom. Should storms from without and internal whirlwinds within, threaten the old ship, Louisiana will cooly and calmly collect such portions of the wreck as she may, for reconstruction. Howl on ye howlers and hyaena-like prowlers. When Louisiana is to be heard on the Union question—the people will speak.

Louisiana seceded on January 26, 1861, before Lincoln took office. It was the sixth out of 11 states to secede. The people spoke, but not the way this editor thought they would.

This entry was posted in Arkansas, Louisiana, Secession. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *