Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 390
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 390
 
 
tocsin, indicating the proximity of danger, increased the general disquietude, while those who lived in the country where newspapers were infrequent and mails irregular, felt they would have preferred living in the midst of alarms to having their anxious uncertainty thus prolonged. Physical privations are far from alleviating moral distress and the lack of luxuries and then of necessaries increased the harshness of woman’s lot in the Confederacy. The tale of poverty in its every-day aspect is familiar to us all, but at the South the contrast between life before the war and afterwards is most unusual and striking. In the domestic establishments plenty had been the rule, even lavishness. Tables groaned under the weight of food. The Southerners had been extravagant in their living and generous in their entertainment. Servants were numerous. Southern ladies who had never taken thought where food came from,—who had themselves never stooped to the least physical exertion,—were now forced by the advance of the enemy to leave their luxurious homes and take refuge in Richmond; there they might be seen in line before the cheapest shop awaiting their chance to spend the scant wages of “plain sewing” or copying or clerical work in a Government office, for a pittance of flour or bacon. No clerkship was given to a woman unless she would aver that she was in want, and in the Treasury Department one vacancy would elicit a hundred applications, a number of which came from ladies of gentle birth and former affluence. Other ladies accustomed to luxury did the menial work of the household. Such labor was peculiarly distasteful to the Southern-bred woman, yet this and the insufficiency of wholesome food were borne with cheerfulness in the hope of independence and the preservation of their social institutions. It seemed to them that the North had undertaken a crusade
 

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