Gender, Race and Family in Nineteenth Century America: From Northern Woman to Plantation Mistress

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Palgrave Macmillan, Nov 16, 2012 - History - 218 pages
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Born to a privileged middle-class family in 1830s New York State, Sarah Hicks' decision to marry Benjamin Williams, a physician and slaveholder from Greene County, North Carolina, in 1853, was met with slight amazement by her parents, siblings and friends, not least her brother-in-law, James Monroe Brown, a committed anti-slavery campaigner from Ohio. This book traces Sarah's journey as she relocates to Clifton Grove, the Williams' slaveholding plantation, presenting her with complex dilemmas as she reconciled the everyday realities of plantation mistress to the gender script which she had been raised with in the North. She also faced familial divisions and disharmony with her northern kin and new southern in-laws, and the recognition that her whiteness and class accorded her special privileges in the context of mid-nineteenth century America.

 

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Contents

Reading Letters Telling Stories and Writing History
1
Changing Cultural Landscapes
15
From True Woman to Southern Lady
41
North and South
71
Georgia Sunnyside and the Confederacy
103
5 Reconstructing Southern Womanhood
134
Postscript
160
Notes
167
Bibliography
198
Index
215
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About the author (2012)

REBECCA FRASER carried out her doctoral work at the University of Warwick. She is currently a lecturer of American History and Culture in the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

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