1894 - United Daughters of the Confederacy
The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is an American hereditary association of Southern women established in 1894. The stated purposes of the organization includes the commemoration of Confederate soldiers and the funding of the erection of memorials to these men. The organization's treatment of the Confederacy, along with its promotion of the Lost Cause movement, is viewed by some as white supremacy.
Formation and purpose The UDC was established in September 10, 1894, in Nashville, Tennessee, by Caroline Goodlett and Anna Raines. The first chapter was Nashville No. 1. According to the author Kristina DuRocher, the stated aims of the organization included "creating a social network, memorializing the war, maintaining a 'truthful record of the noble and chivalric achievements' of their veterans, and teaching the next generation 'a proper respect for and pride in the glorious war history'."
In 1896, the organization established the Children of the Confederacy to teach the same values to the younger generation, through a mythical depiction of the Civil War and Confederacy designed to rewrite history. According to DuRocher, "Like the KKK's children's groups, the UDC utilized the Children of the Confederacy to impart to the rising generations their own white-supremacist vision of the future."
The communications studies scholar W. Stuart Towns notes UDC's role "in demanding textbooks for public schools that told the story of the war and the Confederacy from a definite southern point of view". He adds that their work is one of the "essential elements [of] perpetuating Confederate mythology"
Early work Across the Southern United States, associations were founded after the Civil War, chiefly by women, to organize burials of Confederate soldiers, establish and care for permanent cemeteries, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor impressive monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate cause and tradition.
The organization was "strikingly successful at raising money to build monuments, lobbying legislatures and Congress for the reburial of Confederate dead, and working to shape the content of history textbooks." They also raised money to care for the widows and children of the Confederate dead. Most of these memorial associations gradually merged into the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which grew from 17,000 total members in 1900 to nearly 100,000 by World War I
Monuments and memorials The UDC was influential primarily in the early twentieth century across the South, where its main role was to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the Civil War. Memory and memorials became the central focus of the organization.
Historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall argues that the UDC was a powerful promoter of women's history:
DC leaders were determined to assert women's cultural authority over virtually every representation of the region's past. This they did by lobbying for state archives and museums, national historic sites, and historic highways; compiling genealogies; interviewing former soldiers; writing history textbooks; and erecting monuments, which now moved triumphantly from cemeteries into town centers. More than half a century before women's history and public history emerged as fields of inquiry and action, the UDC, with other women's associations, strove to etch women's accomplishments into the historical record and to take history to the people, from the nursery and the fireside to the schoolhouse and the public square.
"The number of women's clubs devoted to filiopietism and history was staggering," says historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage. He notes two typical club women in Texas and Mississippi, who between them belonged to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Daughters of the Pilgrims, Daughters of the War of 1812, Daughters of Colonial Governors, and Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, Order of the First Families of Virginia, and the Colonial Dames of America, as well as a few other historically oriented societies. Comparable men, on the other hand, were much less interested in historical organizations, and devoted their energies to secret fraternal societies, while they emphasized athletic, political and financial exploits. Brundage notes that after women's suffrage came in 1920, the historical role of the women's organizations eroded.
After 1900 the UDC became an umbrella organization coordinating local memorial groups.The UDC women specialized in sponsoring local memorials. After 1945, they were active in placing historical markers along Southern highways. The UDC has also been active in national causes during wartime. According to the organization, during World War I, it funded 70 hospital beds at the American Military Hospital on the Western front and contributed over US$82,000 for French and Belgian war orphans. The homefront campaign raised $24 million for war bonds and savings stamps. Members also donated $800,000 to the Red Cross. During World War II, they gave financial aid to student nurses. The UDC donated $50,000 for the construction of a Confederate memorial hall on the campus of Vanderbilt University in 1935. By August 2016, the university returned $1.2 million to the UDC after the board of trust, backed by anonymous donors, agreed to remove the word "Confederate" from the building.
Memoirs The UDC encouraged women to publish their experiences in the war, beginning with biographies of major southern figures, such as Varina Davis's of her husband Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. Later, women began adding more of their own experiences to the "public discourse about the war", in the form of memoirs, such as those published in the early 1900s by Sara Pryor, Virginia Clopton, Louise Wright and others. They also recommended structures for the memoirs. By the turn of the twentieth century, a dozen memoirs by southern women were published. These memoirs were part of the growing public memory about the antebellum years and the Lost Cause narrative, which critics[who?] have described as white supremacist, as they vigorously defended the Confederacy and its founding principles (which included the enslavement of African-Americans).
Southern Cross of Honor The Southern Cross of Honor was a postbellum honor presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to members of the United Confederate Veterans
The first Cross was bestowed on April 26, 1900. The UDC kept records of the descendants of Confederate soldiers and sailors who served in the U S Armed Forces during World War I. In 1919, it was decided that a medal be created to honor them. The first World War I Crosses of Military Service were awarded on November 22, 1923, with the first being placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. The Crosses of Military Service Awards has been expanded over the years to include the Spanish-American War (1930), the Philippine Insurrection Cross of Military Service (1930), the World War II Cross of Military Service, the Korean War Cross of Military Service (1952), the Vietnam Conflict Cross of Military Service (1966), and the Global War on Terror Cross of Military Service (2005).
The Southern Cross of Honor and the Cross of Military Service are the highest honors the UDC bestows. “The UDC is the only patriotic organization in America that bestows such an award.” Each Cross is presented to the recipient with the following words: “Fortes creantur fortibus – the brave beget the brave.”
Una B. Herrick, American educator, the first Dean of Women at Montana State College.
Edith D. Pope, second editor of the Confederate Veteran; president of the Nashville No. 1 chapter of the UDC from 1927 to 1930.
Criticism During the period 1880-1910, the UDC was one of many groups that celebrated Lost Cause mythology and presented "a romanticized view of the slavery era" in the United States. Historian James M. McPherson has said that the present-day UDC promotes a white supremacist and neo-Confederate agenda, saying "I think I agree a hundred percent with Ed Sebesta, though, about the motives or the hidden agenda not too deeply hidden I think of such groups as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. They are dedicated to celebrating the Confederacy and rather thinly veiled support for white supremacy. And I think that also is the again not very deeply hidden agenda of the Confederate flag issue in several Southern states."
Children of the Confederacy The Children of the Confederacy, also known as the CofC, is an auxiliary organization to the UDC. The official name is Children of the Confederacy of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It comprises children from birth through the time of the Children of the Confederacy Annual General Convention following their 18th birthday. All Children of the Confederacy chapters are sponsored by UDC chapters.
The name United Daughters of the Confederacy is a registered trademark, registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The organization was incorporated on July 18, 1919. The UDC is a nonprofit organization and it meets the requirements of the United States Internal Revenue Service Code 501(c)(3) as a tax-exempt organization. The headquarters is located in the Memorial Building to the Women of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the UDC as a Neo-Confederate group with close ties to white supremacist groups such as the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens.