We Mean to Be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia

Overview

Over the past two decades, historians have successfully disputed
the notion that American women remained wholly outside the realm of politics until the early twentieth century. Still, a consensus has prevailed that, unlike their Northern counterparts, women of the antebellum South were largely excluded from public life. With this book, Elizabeth Varon effectively challenges such historical assumptions. Using a wide array of sources, she demonstrates that throughout the ...
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Overview

Over the past two decades, historians have successfully disputed
the notion that American women remained wholly outside the realm of politics until the early twentieth century. Still, a consensus has prevailed that, unlike their Northern counterparts, women of the antebellum South were largely excluded from public life. With this book, Elizabeth Varon effectively challenges such historical assumptions. Using a wide array of sources, she demonstrates that throughout the antebellum period, white Southern women of the slaveholding class were important actors in the public drama of politics.

Through their voluntary associations, legislative petitions,
presence at political meetings and rallies, and published
appeals, Virginia's elite white women lent their support to such
controversial reform enterprises as the temperance movement and the American Colonization Society, to the electoral campaigns of the Whig and Democratic Parties, to the literary defense of
slavery, and to the causes of Unionism and secession. Against the backdrop of increasing sectional tension, Varon argues, these
women struggled to fulfill a paradoxical mandate: to act both as
partisans who boldly expressed their political views and as
mediators who infused public life with the "feminine" virtues of
compassion and harmony.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A very good book that all women's and southern historians need to read.

Journal of Southern History

This book clears a window into a previously obscure realm of southern white women's history.

American Historical Review

A well-written, carefully argued examination of Virginia women's public roles.

Left History

Varon argues convincingly that women took an active role in antebellum politics in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

This pathbreaking [book] will appeal to both scholars and nonspecialist audiences.

Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807846964
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/9/1998
  • Series: Gender and American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,129,396
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth R. Varon is professor of history at Temple University.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. The Representatives of Virtue: Female Benevolence and Moral Reform
Chapter 2. This Most Important Charity: The American Colonization Society
Chapter 3. The Ladies Are Whigs: Gender and the Second Party System
Chapter 4. To Still the Angry Passions: Women as Sectional Mediators and Partisans
Chapter 5. 'Tis Now Liberty or Death: The Secession Crisis
Epilogue. The War and Beyond
Notes
Index

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