"A vital and, until now, missing piece to the puzzle of the 'Lost Cause' ideology and its impact on the daily lives of post-Civil War southerners. This is a careful, insightful examination of the role women played in shaping the perceptions of two generations of southerners, not simply through rhetoric but through the creation of a remarkably effective organization whose leadership influenced the teaching of history in the schools, created a landscape of monuments that honored the Confederate dead, and provided assistance to elderly veterans, their widows, and their children."--Carol Berkin, City University of New York
Even without the right to vote, members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy proved to have enormous social and political influence throughout the South--all in the name of preserving Confederate culture. Karen L. Cox's history of the UDC, an organization founded in 1894 to vindicate the Confederate generation and honor the Lost Cause, shows why myths surrounding the Confederacy continue to endure.
The Daughters, as UDC members were popularly known, were literally daughters of the Confederate generation. While southern women had long been leaders in efforts to memorialize the Confederacy, UDC members made the Lost Cause a movement about vindication as well as memorialization. They erected monuments, monitored history for "truthfulness," and sought to educate coming generations of white southerners about an idyllic past and a just cause--states' rights. Soldiers' and widows' homes, perpetuation of the mythology of the antebellum South, and pro-southern textbooks in the region's white public schools were all integral to their mission of creating the New South in the image of the Old.
UDC members aspired to transform military defeat into a political and cultural victory, in which states' rights and white supremacy remained intact. To the extent they were successful, the Daughters helped to preserve and perpetuate an agenda for the New South that included maintaining the social status quo. Placing the organization's activities in the context of the postwar and Progressive-Era South, Cox describes in detail the UDC's origins and early development, its efforts to collect and preserve manuscripts and artifacts and to build monuments, and its later role in the peace movement and World War I.
This remarkable history of the organization presents a portrait of two generations of southern women whose efforts helped shape the social and political culture of the New South. It also offers a new historical perspective on the subject of Confederate memory and the role southern women played in its development.
Karen L. Cox is assistant professor and director of the public history program at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
No Sample Chapter AvailableAwards
Julia Cherry Spruill Prize - 2004
" By focusing on women and the remarkable influence of the UDC, Karen Cox has filled in an important part of the story of the Lost Cause and its impact on southern society in the early twentieth century and beyond." Civil War Book Review
" Valuable for anyone interested in Southern history, civil rights, or how Confederate culture was transmitted across generations." East Texas Historical Association
"An important step on the way to understanding the South's Daughters of the Confederacy more completely." North Carolina Historical Review
"Dixie's Daughters provides a much-needed institutional history of the UDC at the height of its influence; that alone would be a major contribution. But Cox incorporates into it an exploration of the impact of the group on southern culture and the lives of the upper-class women who participated in it." Southern Cultures
"Dixie's Daughters looks at the group's roots in memorial association, its meteoric rise to power in the early 1900s, its monument-building and benevolent activities, and its tireless efforts to promulgate pro-Confederate historical revisionism and educational indoctrination." Atlanta History
"Dixie's Daughters adds a new dimension to the growing scholarship on the creation of historical memory. Cox treats her subjects as vital, influential, political actors and integrates them into the Progressive Era by suggesting that southern women displayed their own, unique brand of activism. This is a book that would serve well in the classroom in courses on women's history, southern history, and the Progressive Era." H-SAWH
"Cox's book is an important contribution to our understanding of the creation of the Lost Cause culture which became so dominant in the New South, and it is highly recommended reading for all Southern historians as well as historians of American women's history." Louisiana History
"The first full-length history of the Daughters of the Confederacy, this book offers something new to the history of the South and to the history of memory generally."
"This is an important work and contributes well to the ongoing efforts to make sense of the influence of the past on the present, or more specifically, on the ways Americans have used the past to make the present conform to their desires." Lyde Cullen Sizer, Sarah Lawrence College The Alabama Review
"A valuable contribution to the historiography of the Lost Cause." Journal of Southern History
"Dixie's Daughters stands as a comprehensive and important survey of an organization that has had great bearing on the way people have remembered the Confederate experience in the twentieth century, and certainly stands as the authoritative work on the subject." Florida Historical Quarterly
"At long last, the UDC, founded in 1894, has received a full scholarly treatment. Cox's superb research encompasses the minutes and papers of UDC leaders and some effective interviews conducted in 1989-1990 with women who had been members of the Children of the Confederacy."
"Cox's reader does not lack information for imagining how sinister the UDC's influence may have been over time. But as one tries to estimate a tally sheet of the money and energy spent by the UDC and its allies on monuments, on racist history books, on glorification of the Ku Klux Klan, and on the perpetuation of a tragically misshapen story of the meaning of the Civil War, we might gasp in critical indignation at the sheer weight of the damage done by these dedicated women to American race relations and to the nation's historical imagination." The Journal of American History
In this first full length book on the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cox traces how a group of southern women, without even the right to vote, came to have enormous social and political influence through preserving Confederate culture. Daily Siftings Herald