UDC

One of our books exclusively discusses the United Daughter of the Confederacy, and I got really intrigued and perplexed at the same time about this organization.  The book by Karen Cox, Dixies’s Daughters:  The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of the Confederate Culture really opened my eyes into a world that I was totally unaware of.  For one, I could not believe that mainly one organization was responsible for the massive monument collection of Civil War veterans in the South.  Also, women were responsible for preserving the South.  Then, we read the book and it wasn’t as wonderful at it sounded.  I wanted to be optimistic and encouraged that women in the nineteenth century could be so strong and involved with the culture of the entire South.  However, after reading the book, my opinions have skewed due to Cox’s discussion of the hidden agendas that the Southern ladies of the UDC had.

So, my research began by first exploring the UDC website.  On the homepage, nothing really stands out except a woman with a medal around her neck.  Then you begin reading “Why I Am a Daughter of the Confederacy” by the current President-General, Mrs. Martha Van Schaick, for 2010-2012.  Some peculiar phrases stand out to me, especially after reading Cox’s book.  Mrs. Schaick states, “….I was born a Daughter of the Confederacy.  A part of my heritage was that I came into this world with the blood of a soldier in my veins.”[1]  A statement that is interesting to say the least.  Cox discusses how children were “born into the Confederacy” due to the mission of the UDC educating the children of the South.  This woman makes it sound like she didn’t even have a choice to belong to the UDC, over 150 years later; they are still doing the same thing.  If you keep reading there are more perturbed phrases such as comparing her obligation to perform to the Bible, her birthright, and of course the true history of the South, as in the Southern Constitution (not the US Constitution).  All of Mrs. Schaick’s speech draws questions about the UDC still to this day, like nothing has changed.

There are tabs on the right of the website where one can browse through various topics like Children of the Confederacy, Scholarships, Remembrance of 150 years Committee, different divisions around the nation, and programs and events.  None of these are really that off the wall other than the Children of the Confederacy.

The Children of the Confederacy is interesting in that children of today are still being educated and inducted before they even know how to talk.  The current President-General states that, “Together, we can use this sesquicentennial period in our history as a tool to learn and teach others the real truths of the War Between the States and honor the memory of our brave Confederate ancestors. As CofC members, we must never forget!” [2] Still the language of the past is resonating today in the youth of the South. 

How can we progress if this Lost Cause is always present and influencing the tomorrow generation with the ideals of yesterday?  It makes me wonder, because we discussed this in class on how to move forward but can’t if white supremacy and vindication still rule today.  I know it’s just the South, and only a limited part of the South, that probably still thinks the way the UDC did.  But, as an ever increasing mobile society, I can’t help but think the mentality will spread and keep hindering our society to get past segregation.

Here is some references relating to the UDC.

Caroline Meriwether Goodlett Library: open to members of UDC, nonmembers by appointment only

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html\

 Helen Walpole Brewer Library: contains microfilm copies of the National Archives Compiled Confederate Service Records and a limited number of regimental histories, family histories, pension records, and cemetery records.

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html

 UDC magazine:

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html


[1] United Daughters of the Confederacy, “Why I Am a Daughter of the Confederacy,” accessed June 21, 2012, http://www.hqudc.org/index.html.

[2] United Daughters of the Confederacy, “Children of the Confederacy,” accessed June 21, 2012, http://www.hqudc.org/CofC/index.html.

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3 comments
  1. Your research and Mrs. Schaick’s comments confirm my thinking that the UDC is very cult-like. I think all members of these organizations, (UDC, SCV, CofC) are ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ so to speak. I have to hope that the decline in membership in these organizations is a nugget of hope. These organizations are not reaching the numbers they once did in the early 1900s.

    I also have to hope that the teachers who are working in the schools of the South are doing their best to set the historical record straight. How many ideas did your parents teach you while growing up that, at one time you believed, but then later in life learned something that completely changed how you thought about it? I have to believe that kids will question everything, and I have to hope that those growing up in the South are questioning the causes and results of the Civil War. In Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic, he writes of the girl who is a member of the CofC, but, she tells him that she’s really interested in different aspects of the Civil War. To me, this is the story of a girl who is appeasing her parents, and will eventually be of age to challenge their authority. Isn’t that the job/role of kids growing up?

    • jadams08 said:

      You would think kids would grow up and eventually question what their parents have told them. I know numbers are dwindling for the Children of the Confederacy so maybe that’s a sign that kids are broadening their information lens through more mediums than their parents.

  2. Kristen Epps said:

    You make a great point, Erin. I wonder, though, if teachers are also supporters of the UDC? I’m sure some are, but I’d be curious to see what percentage of K-12 teachers are actually members of the UDC, SCV, etc. I have no idea if anyone’s looked at that, but it would be extremely interesting!

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