Elite White Women

Typically, the first image that comes to mind when discussing the elite, white, southern woman is Scarlett O’Hara.  Over the years, she has been immortalized as a true Southern Belle, an elegant woman with poise, grace, and well-versed in etiquette.  However, this portrayal is grossly over-simplified.  Elite women had a wide range of personalities, despite the uniform saintly facade that these women worked so diligently to promote after the Civil War.  In truth, the elite white woman could be very violent, especially to slaves.  After the war, many of these women did not want to be remembered in such a negative light.  Many of them made themselves revisionists to the memory of the antebellum South in an attempt to appear more benevolent.  The purpose of this section is to bring some clarity to the reality of elite white women in the Old South.

For further reading on violent plantation mistresses, please visit:
 http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9nv4p6x8#
For further reading on the mythology of the Old South, please visit:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/plantation/sf_myths.html
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