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.As hometown Richard.qxd 8/29/2003 1:28 PM Page 3030 BUSY HANDSreporters, the ladies kept a critical eye on the use of the goods, thetreatment of the soldiers, and the moral temper of the hospitals.When goods were misused, soldiers mistreated, or morality absent,not only did the lady nurses write home, but several took it uponthemselves to rectify the situation.Female nurses were the holdersof the domestic rope that tied the soldiers to the home and connect-ed the hometown ladies to their own moral battle on the war front.Together, homefront and battlefront women worked for the preser-vation of the Union by preserving their men s morality.30An article from a soldier s newspaper supplies a final note regard-ing the use of familial imagery during the war. Married, somethingabout the year 1856, by his Satanic Majesty, King Beelzebub, Esq.,Mr.Copperhead Democracy and Miss Rattlesnake Slavery, both ofthe United States, reported the volunteer author in the ArmorySquare Hospital Gazette of Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1864.31In the article  How the Relationship Runs, he characterized theCivil War as a wedding between two ideological reptiles whoseunruly offspring were presently tearing the country apart.He notedthat the capricious and unchaste newlyweds had produced childrenin quick succession.Their first child, born in 1856, just six monthsafter the marriage, was a son,  Lecompton Border Ruffian, havingbeen conceived during the warring between pro- and antislavery fac-tions in the Kansas Territory.Their precocious and true second son, Secession Pro-Slavery Rebellion, was born in Charleston, SouthCarolina, in 1860, when the state seceded from the Union.Theirthird son,  Patrick Riot, was born in New York City in 1863, spring-ing from the draft riots that engulfed the city that summer.Theirfirstborn, after only a few months of  sickly existence, died from a peculiar disease called Free State. The son  Secession, who  looksso much like Daddy, was then four years old, broke his back atVicksburg, burned his face at the fire at Gettysburg, and had a footamputated at Atlanta.The writer confided that it was universallybelieved that  Secession was  too smart to live, and his death waslooked for soon. Patrick Riot, the third son, came  near being still-born in New York City, but was aided by Dr.Seymour and hisfriends and lived for three days.The soldier concluded that  thefatality which has attended these children shows that no child ofthese can ever live, and yet they survive long enough to cause great Richard.qxd 8/29/2003 1:28 PM Page 31THE FAMILY DURING THE CIVIL WAR 31trouble; and so long as the old folks live there is danger of an increase in the family.  He proposed, therefore, that they beheadthe old woman and hang the old man so as to prevent either of themfrom  generating any further trouble or from marrying elsewhere.32The fact that the author chose the family as a metaphor for the cri-sis of the country is telling.Although describing political problems infamilial terms was nothing new (for instance, in the AmericanRevolution, Thomas Paine had characterized the conflict withEngland as a  domestic disturbance ), it is interesting that theVictorians veiled everything, not just politics, so heavily in the imageryof domesticity at the very moment when the middle-class urban fam-ily had lost most of its functions.Stripped of its traditional social roleas the productive and religious unit of society, the middle-class urbanfamily retreated into the private sphere, where it provided emotionaland psychological support for children and adults and acted as a coun-terweight to the acquisitiveness required of men in the publicdomain.Within the greater community, the domestic circle no longerrepresented the hegemonic power and even seemed at odds withsociety s goals.But as historian George Forgie argues, the effect ofthese opposing commitments did not  make the spheres of the fami-ly and society more distinct and antithetical, but rather less so. Thepublic realm may have co-opted many of the family s obligations, butit modeled its work on an  idealized family. The result, so Forgieclaims, was to make the state  seem like the family writ large, embrac-ing the whole country. Thus, Victorians sentimentalized domesticityand used familial language to describe both their own personal actionsand the national events unfolding around them.The soldier s use of homelike imagery in the Copperhead story takes on even more sig-nificance in this context because it suggests that his readers not onlywould have identified with this metaphor, but would have agreed thatthe Copperhead family was the antithesis to the  true family. 33Because the most important function left to the nineteenth-centu-ry family was to rear its children to become virtuous and patriotic cit-izens, the Copperheads obviously failed not only in their parentalresponsibilities, but also in their civic obligations.Their three off-spring threatened the very fabric of society by their undisciplined,self-serving, and impassioned behavior.Their tale represented thekind of destructive conduct that could come from rebellious children Richard.qxd 8/29/2003 1:28 PM Page 3232 BUSY HANDSunschooled in the proper republican mores, which above all includ-ed self-restraint and civilized morality.Indeed, nineteenth-centuryAmericans believed that insubordinate children grew up to be insub-ordinate citizens.Noted contemporary domestic adviser Lydia MariaChild argued that if  indolent parents are unwilling to check theirchild s evils at an early age,  when it might easily have been done,[the child] afterward grow[s] too strong for their management.Historian Katherine Kish Sklar explains that domestic expertCatharine Beecher took Child s concerns about rebellious behavior astep further by investing women s maternal duties with nationalimportance.Beecher realized even more than Child that the familyrepresented the model of behavior for citizens of a democracy [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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