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The Women's FightThe Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation$
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Thavolia Glymph

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653631

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653631.001.0001

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Northern White Women and the “Garden of Eden”

Northern White Women and the “Garden of Eden”

(p.163) Chapter Five Northern White Women and the “Garden of Eden”
The Women's Fight

Thavolia Glymph

University of North Carolina Press

Northern women, white and black, went South during the Civil War. Most went as nurses, spies, agents of soldiers’ aid societies, teachers, and missionaries. Others accompanied soldier husbands and served company cooks or housekeepers, searched for lost family members, or nursed wounded family. A few disguised themselves as men and served as soldiers themselves. Regardless of their motivation to go South, they were generally united in their belief that enslaved people were at once abused and racially inferior. This belief led to skepticism of and concern over what should be “women’s work” in the South during the war. This skepticism and concern also informed Northerners’ views on the best path for integrating African Americans into the nation after war’s end. Many Northern white women came to see their roles as “mothers” to the newly freed Black race and struggled to bond with Black women or see them as equals.; by doing so, white Northern women helped refurbish the racial ideology that had defended slavery and would work to constrain Black women’s lives for decades.

Keywords:   North, Teachers, South, Skepticism, “Women’s Work”, Mothers, Black women, White women, Race, Ideology

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