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

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

Author: Drew Gilpin Faust
Publisher: University of North Carolina
Copyright: 1996
Pages: 326
Cover Price: $ 26.95

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When Confederate men marched off to battle, southern women struggled with the new responsibilities of directing farms and plantations, providing for families, and supervising increasingly restive slaves. Drew Faust offers a compelling picture of the more than half-million women who belonged to the slaveholding families of the Confederacy during this period of acute crisis, when every part of these women's lives became vexed and uncertain. Faust chronicles the clash of the old and the new within a group that was at once the beneficiary and the victim of the social order of the Old South.

This volume is part of the Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies, and the preceding paragraph is part of the official description. It is interesting to note how, a century and a half later, the South's "peculiar institution" has been sanitized so that one can speak calmly of "supervising increasingly restive slaves." Subjugation is redefined as supervision, as though this were simply some management technique, and what would be the contrast to restive slaves? Restful? Contented?

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Background Information

The Confederate States of America was formed by the states that seceded from the Union in 1861 and was dissolved in 1865. Political thinkers in the South developed reasons for believing that slavery was not just an economic necessity but a moral virtue. Women have played important roles in American history from the earliest days, although they have not always been adequately recognized.