Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War

Drew Gilpin Faust, Author
Drew Gilpin Faust, Author University of North Carolina Press $59.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-8078-2255-5
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Faust (The Creation of Confederate Nationalism) makes a major contribution to both Civil War historiography and women's studies in this outstanding analysis of the impact of secession, invasion and conquest on Southern white women. Antebellum images based on helplessness and dependence were challenged as women assumed an increasing range of social and economic responsibilities. Their successes were, however, at best mixed, involving high levels of improvisation. The failure of Southern men to sustain their patriarchal pretensions on the battlefield also broke the prewar gender contract of dependence in return for protection. Women of the South after 1865 confronted both their doubt about what they could accomplish by themselves and their desire to avoid reliance on men. The women's rights movement in the South thus grew from necessity and disappointment-a sharp contrast to the ebullient optimism of its Northern counterpart. Faust's provocative analysis of a complex subject merits a place in all collections of U.S. history. Photos. (Mar.)
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