New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States / Edition 1

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There is currently a great deal of interest in the Southern suffrage movement, but until now historians have had no comprehensive history of the woman suffrage movement in the South, the region where suffragists had the hardest fight and the least success. This important new book focuses on eleven of the movement's most prominent leaders at the regional and national levels, exploring the range of opinions within this group, with particular emphasis on race and states' rights. Wheeler insists that the suffragists were motivated primarily by the desire to secure public affirmation of female equality and to protect the interests of women, children, and the poor in the tradition of noblesse oblige in a New South they perceived as misgoverned by crass and materialistic men. A vigorous suffrage movement began in the South in the 1890s, however, because suffragists believed offering woman suffrage as a way of countering black voting strength gave them an "expediency" argument that would succeed—even make the South lead the nation in the adoption of woman suffrage. When this strategy failed, the movement flagged, until the Progressive Movement provided a new rationale for female enfranchisement. Wheeler also emphasizes the relationship between the Northern and Southern leaders, which was one of mutual influence. This pioneering study of the Southern suffrage movement will be essential to students of the history of woman suffrage, American women, the South, the Progressive Era, and American reform movements.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This vibrant study...answers some of the key questions concerning late-nineteenth-century feminism. Her volume is invaluable, not just because of how much it teaches us as scholars, but because it has the wit and accessibility to engage our students. The business of scholarship can be all too tedious, but Wheeler's book lightens our load by offering us a brisk, timely study which will doubtless enjoy a wide and enthusiastic readership."—Reviews in American History

"This study adds rich detail and dimensions to Progressive Era accounts. It is especially welcome to those of us who teach in the South classes composed primarily of women who need to know their own past."—Marth H. Swain, Texas Women's University

"A much-needed and more inclusive treatment of the women's suffrage movement. Wheeler suggests one reason the Southern experience has been largely ignored by historians is that it was unsuccessful and therefore perceived as insignificant. Her careful examination of the very conditions that made it unsuccessful, though, is what makes this account so intriguing."—Roanoke Times & World News

"This carefully researched study adds a large and significant new dimension to the history of the American suffrage movement, and throws new light on the politics of the New South."—Anne Firor Scott, Author of Natural Allies: Woman's Associations in American History

"Marjorie Spruill Wheeler introduces us here to a remarkable group of women. This engaging and pioneering account will recast the way we think about the South in which these women lived and the Souths that have followed."—Edward L. Ayers, Author of Promise of the New South

"Wheeler's research has uncovered a gold mine in Southern women's papers. Her clear-eyed, subtle investigation should regenerate interest in the woman suffrage movement by attending to the class, race, and regional dynamics of it."—Nancy F. Cott, Yale University

"Marjorie Spruill Wheeler sets her compelling portraits of white suffrage leaders in the complex racial and sexual politics of both the New South and the national suffrage movement. This study assures that future historians of women and politics in the U.S. will have to reckon with the South, recognizing the centrality of states' rights, southern strategies, and a broad range of racial (including racist) views to the battle for women's rights in America."—Nancy A. Hewitt, Duke University

"This book is the first to examine comprehensively the strategy and objectives of the [woman suffrage] movement in the South as a whole....[This] well-written volume places the Virginia Equal Suffrage league in a wider regional and national context and as such should find a place on the shelves of all libraries whose collections include materials on the history of women, reform, twentieth-century politics, and the southern United States."—Virginia Librarian

"New Women of the New South is well researched, well argued, and well written and will prove a useful monograph for students in undergraduate classes in southern and women's history."—Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Many books are chosen, but few actually reshape our thinking about the South. Amid the wealth of worthy texts, there remains a dearth of imaginative, innovative studies, especially of women's experience throughout the southern states. Marjorie Spruill Wheeler's book is precisely that. She teaches us to see the South anew, and she brings a bounty of fresh evidence and confident interpretation to a subject sorely in need of regional and comparative evaluation....What Wheeler achieves is extraordinary. She compels us to grasp the connections between women across the South, and she provides us with hypotheses about southern women's experience all scholars of the South can examine with profit."—Southern Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195082456
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/1993
  • Edition description: FACSIMILE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Vanderbilt University
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Table of Contents

1 The Southern Lady: Hostage to "the Lost Cause" 3
2 The Making of Southern Suffragists 38
3 Respectable Radicals: Southern Suffragists as Champions of Women's Rights 72
4 Southern Suffragists and "the Negro Problem" 100
5 Women's Rights and States' Rights: Dissension in "the Solid South" 133
6 Bitter Fruit: An Incomplete Victory, Courtesy of Uncle Sam 172
Epilogue 187
Notes 198
Bibliography 255
Index 265
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