United Daughters of the Confederacy
The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is a women's lineage society and heritage association dedicated to honoring the memory of those who served in the military and died in service to the Confederate States of America (CSA). UDC began as the National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy, organized in 1894 by Caroline Meriwether Goodlett and Anna Davenport Raines. It was related to older lineage societies such as the Daughters of the Confederacy in Missouri and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Confederate Soldiers Home in Tennessee.
The National Association changed its name to the UDC in 1895. It was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia in 1919. Its motto is “Love, Live, Pray, Think, Dare”.
Membership in UDC is open to women at least 16 years old who are of lineal or collateral blood descent from veterans who served honorably in the Army, Navy, or Civil Service of the CSA, or current or former members of the UDC.
Membership is through a local chapter, usually where the prospective member resides. Local chapters come under the auspices of the state or "Division".
Thirty-three states have active chapters.
According to its original founding, the objectives of the organization are Historical, Educational, Benevolent, Memorial and Patriotic:
- To collect and preserve the material necessary for a truthful history of the War Between the States and to protect, preserve, and mark the places made historic by Confederate valor;
- To assist descendants of worthy Confederates in securing a proper education;
- To fulfill the sacred duty of benevolence toward the survivors of the War and those dependent upon them;
- To honor the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States of America;
- To record the part played during the War by Southern women, including their patient endurance of hardship, their patriotic devotion during the struggle, and their untiring efforts during the post-War reconstruction of the South; and
- To cherish the ties of friendship among the members of the Organization.
United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial Building
|Location:||328 North Blvd., Richmond, Virginia|
|Area:||less than one acre|
|Architect:||Louis W. Ballou|
|Architectural style:||Stripped Classical|
|Added to NRHP:||April 24, 2008|
Memorial Hall, the headquarters of the UDC, is located in Richmond, Virginia. The United Daughters of Confederacy collects and preserves rare books, documents, diaries, letters, and other papers of historical importance that relate to the American Civil War period. The collection is kept in Goodlett Memorial Library at the headquarters.
Across the South, associations were founded after the Civil War, many by women, to organize burials of Confederate soldiers, establish and care for permanent cemeteries for Confederate soldiers, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor impressive monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate cause and tradition. They were "strikingly successful at raising money to build Confederate monuments, lobbying legislatures and Congress for the reburial of Confederate dead, and working to shape the content of history textbooks." In addition to arranging for reburial of soldiers in the South, the women funded and commissioned memorials to Confederate veterans and battles. They were instrumental in organizing to commemorate the war, including annual events in many towns across the South. They led the struggle to shape memory in the aftermath of the war. They also raised money to care for the widows and children of the Confederate dead.
Most of these memorial associations eventually merged into the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which grew from 17,000 members in 1900 to nearly 100,000 women by World War I. At a time of increasing fraternal and civic organizations in the United States, the UDC grew rapidly with local and state chapters.
In addition to raising money for cemeteries and memorials, the UDC encouraged women to publish their writing about the war, beginning with biographies of major southern figures, such as Varina Davis' of her husband Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Later, women began adding more of their own experiences to the "public discourse about the war", in the form of memoirs, such as those published in the early 1900s by Sara Agnes Rice Pryor, Virginia Clay-Clopton and Louise Wigfall Wright and others. They also recommended structures for the memoirs. By the turn of the twentieth century, a dozen memoirs by southern women were published. They constituted part of the growing public memory about the antebellum years and the Lost Cause, as they usually defended the Confederacy. The UDC established approved reading lists for histories of the war, and they criticized accounts of the war by Northern writers.
The Encyclopedia Virginia wrote recently of the organization, "The context of these efforts was the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War, which emphasized states' rights and secession over slavery as causes of the war and was often used to further the goals of white supremacists in the twentieth century." Recent histories, such as Chandra Manning's study of letters on both sides of the war, showed soldiers were very aware of slavery having a central role in what the war was for and that it constituted a basic part of southern society even for men who were not slaveholders.
During the twentieth century, the UDC members participated in battles over the content of textbooks and how history would be taught in the South. This included controversy over how the war would be named. In the South, it was taught as the "War between the States". In their version, all the slaves were loyal and willingly contributed to the Cause. In the 1920s and 1930s, the UDC tried to organize a monument to "faithful slaves", to be built on the Mall in Washington, DC. Blacks strongly objected to this; in 1923 two thousand women of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA protested with a resolution to Vice President Calvin Coolidge and House Speaker Gillette.
During World War I, the UDC supported 70 hospital beds at the American Military Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and contributed $82,069 for French and Belgian orphans. At home, the UDC members purchased $24,843,368 worth of war bonds and savings stamps. They also donated $841,676 to the Red Cross.
During World War II, the organization assisted the National Nursing Association by donating financially to student nurses until the United States Congress passed the Bolton Act, which created the first Cadet Nurse Corps. Through the Red Cross, the UDC donated ambulances for use at European battle sites and a blood plasma unit. They were commended by the Red Cross for their outstanding contributions to the war effort.
In the years of rising activism by African Americans for civil rights, the UDC opposed Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation of public schools. Many of its chapters participated in the Massive Resistance in Virginia and other states.
In 1959 the UDC in Jacksonville, Florida supported renaming an all-white public high school after General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate hero and post-Civil War leader of the Ku Klux Klan. By the 21st century, the school's demographics had changed. Its students are now 54 percent African American. Although many local residents (and the students) wanted to change the name of the high school, in November 2008, the Duval County school board (which controls the county facilities) voted to keep the name. Its five white members voted for the measure, and the two African-American members voted against it.
The association's work on memorials and memory has continued. For instance, during the 1950s, the UDC raised funds to commission window memorials to the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. They were installed in 1957. The tracery windows depict episodes in the lives of each of the generals.
Scholarships and awards
- Mrs. Simon Baruch University Award - $500 to the author and $2000 toward publication of an unpublished monograph or full-length book on Confederate history. The award was endowed in 1925 by the financier Bernard Baruch in memory of his mother Belle, whose husband Simon Baruch was a Confederate surgeon on Robert E. Lee's staff. Belle Baruch was an early member of the UDC.
- Annabella Drummond McMath Scholarship, to aid women over the age of 30 begin or continue their education.
Critics have attacked their emphasis on preserving "Southern heritage" as a subterfuge for a nostalgia for the days of white supremacy. For example in informal comments in 1999, Princeton University historian James M. McPherson, a scholar of the Civil War, associated the (UDC) with the neo-Confederate movement. He said that the UDC and their male counterparts, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), have "white supremacy" as their "thinly veiled agendas."
Some members of the UDC and the SCV were outraged and said that the two organizations do not have a racist agenda. Some SCV and UDC chapters urged their members to boycott McPherson's books and engage in letter-writing campaigns of protest. McPherson responded that he did not mean to imply that all SCV or UDC chapters, or everyone who belongs to them, promote the agenda. He further stated that (only) "some of these people have a hidden agenda [which] they might not even recognize they're involved in."
In 2003 Essie Mae Washington-Williams announced that she was the natural daughter of the late Senator Strom Thurmond (which his family confirmed), born in 1925 when he was 22 and her mother Carrie Butler was 16 and a housekeeper at his parents' house. In 2004 Washington-Williams announced her intention to join the UDC. Thurmond had completed the documentation and long been a member of the corresponding Sons of Confederate Veterans. She encouraged other African Americans to participate as well, to learn more about their heritage and add to the full story of American history.
The UDC sued Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee over its 2002 plan to change the name of Confederate Memorial Hall, a student dormitory. In September 2002, the university announced its intention to remove "Confederate" from the pediment of the building in recognition of changed times. The UDC sued, as it had funded one third of the cost in 1935 when the building was constructed by Peabody College, which merged with Vanderbilt in 1979. Its condition was that the building would be named Confederate Memorial Hall and have two floors reserved for women descendants of Confederate veterans.
After a lengthy legal process that went to appeal, the Tennessee State Appeals Court ruled on May 3, 2005, that Vanderbilt University would be forced to pay a sizable sum to the UDC if it removed "Confederate" from the building. Due to the court ruling, the university decided against formally changing the name. In its press and college materials, the university refers to the building simply as Memorial House.
Children of the Confederacy
The UDC has a youth auxiliary called the Children of the Confederacy. The UDC is open to both males and females "from birth" to the CoC convention after their 18th birthday, who can trace their lineage to a Confederate ancestor, or to a member of the UDC. The group has historically held meetings with veterans, widows and historians of the Civil War, observed Confederate Memorial Days, decorated graves, sponsored scholarships and published pamphlets and catechisms presenting the "Southern version" of the Civil War. Today they also engage in activities such as book drives for Beauvoir, fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House, canned food drives as well as veterans causes.
The first CoC chapter was organized by the Mary Custis Lee Chapter Chapter of the UDC in Alexandria, Virginia in 1896. It was formally incorporated on May 6, 1897. New chapters were established in Virginia and Alabama by 1898.
The Children of the Confederacy Creed:
Because we desire to perpetuate, in love and honor, the heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Services, and upheld its flag through four years of war, we, the children of the South, have united in an Organization called the Children of the Confederacy, in which our strength, enthusiasm and love of justice can exert its influence. We, therefore pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals; to honor the memory of our beloved Veterans; to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is, that the War Between the States was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery). and always to act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors.
The auxiliary currently has divisions in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Chapters outside of divisions are present in California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia.
- "United Daughters of the Confederacy Home Page". Hqudc.org. 1919-07-18. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Blight (2001), Race and Reunion, pp. 272-273
- Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, pp. 237-247
- David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001
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- Sarah E. Gardner, Blood And Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937, University of North Carolina Press, 2006, pp. 128-130
- Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over, Vintage, 2008
- Joan Marie Johnson, "Ye Gave Them a Stone", Journal of Women's History
- Jennifer Lawinski (2008-11-07). "Florida High School Keeps KKK Founder's Name". FOXNews.com. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
- Paul A. Shackel (2003). Memory in Black and White: Race, Commemoration, and the Post-Bellum Landscape. Rowman Altamira. p. 39.
- James Michael Martinez et al. (2000). Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South. University Press of Florida. pp. 249–50.
- "James McPherson Interview", Pacifica Radio
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- Creed[dead link]
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- Cox, Karen L. Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.
- Foster, Gaines M. Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
- Janney, Caroline. Burying the Dead but not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.
- Parrott, Angie. "'Love Makes Memory Eternal': The United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, 1897–1920," in Edward Ayers and John C. Willis, eds. The Edge of the South: Life in Nineteenth-Century Virginia, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991, 219–38.
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