Printer Friendly

POLLUTION'S STAIN: A FALLEN WOMAN'S QUEST FOR REDEMPTION IN ANTEBELLUM NEW ORLEANS.

Most historians agree that middle and upper class white women in the antebellum South ordered their lives and identities around deeply rooted gender conventions. As historian Joan Cashin points out, gender shaped destiny, expectation, and experience.(1) Recent studies of white southern women by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Laura Edwards, and Drew Gilpin Faust indicate that gender is more than a late twentieth-century scholarly paradigm; it is also a category that nineteenth-century southerners used to define themselves.(2) Fox-Genovese explains, "southern gender conventions ... operated like a language or discourse that helped individuals to make sense of their place in the world."(3)

For white women in the antebellum South, the only appropriate models for female identity were found in the institutions of marriage and motherhood.(4) Fox-Genovese concludes that "women, especially, relied on family membership to define their identities, for they normally did not have access to other, more abstract roles that would offer competing sources of identity."(5) As a cheerful wife and devoted mother, the ideal "southern lady"--a common fixture in antebellum sermons, periodicals, and art--epitomized the virtues of innocence, compassion, and domesticity. Protected and guided by her chivalrous cavalier, the southern lady remained free from the taint of the outside world.(6) Although few women lived up to this ideal, the standard put forth in prescriptive literature became a benchmark by which women judged themselves.

During the antebellum period, autobiographical writing increasingly became a vehicle through which women reflected on their identities.(7) As Faust points out, "writing is inescapably an act of discovery; autobiographical writing inevitably produces new explorations and understanding of the self. It is as much a process of self-creation as of self-description."(8) Since many southern women exhibited an acute consciousness of gender conventions in their private writings, it is not surprising that a woman who failed both as wife and mother should ponder her uneasy relationship to the ideal. Madaline Selima Edwards, a resident of New Orleans in the 1840s, was one such woman. As the consummate outsider--a woman marked by two failed marriages and an illicit affair with a married man--Madaline's vantage point allowed her to examine the mores of her age with unusual clarity. During her tumultuous relationship with Charles Bradbury from the autumn of 1843 until the summer of 1847, Madaline Edwards wrote extensively in diaries, writing books, and letters. Writing gave her the tools to examine and reinvent herself as she struggled to shape her identity outside of marriage. But rather than overtly rejecting the restrictive nineteenth-century feminine ideal, Madaline Edwards attempted to remold this convention to construct a fragile facade of respectability.

Born into a prominent Tennessee family in 1816, Madaline Cage had a difficult childhood. After her parents separated, she spent most of her youth with the family of her uncle, a local merchant and land speculator.(9) Like most well-to-do girls in the South, Madaline attended a female academy in a nearby town where she developed a love of reading and painting. Educational reformers in revolutionary and early national America had founded female academies throughout the nation, arguing that education for girls was necessary to prepare them for their vital duties as wives and mothers.(10) Madaline's academy, like other girls schools, provided "the rudiments of an English education" which probably consisted of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and perhaps an introduction to philosophy, history, French, Latin, and geography.(11) Penmanship, epistolary composition, and Bible study were probably the cornerstones of Madaline's early education.(12) Despite her eagerness to learn, Madaline's uncle took her out of school in 1831 at the age of 14, when she presumably had received enough education to heighten her prospects for a good marriage.(13)

Soon after, Madaline married Dempsey Elliott, an event she later deemed "the most unfortunate day of my life"(14) Madaline's marriage fell short of the companionate ideal on many fronts.(15) Reflecting on her husband's shortcomings, Madaline explained,
   My husband was kind and devoted to me, but I had felt from the first week
   that he was my inferior in terms of education and natural intellect, and I
   was sadly disappointed when I appealed to him for information to receive
   the answer "don't know" and soon saw that he was compelled to call on me
   for the most ordinary assistance in bookkeeping or any other subject.(16)


Unfortunately, young Madaline did not fully recognize Elliott's shortcomings until it was too late. Due to her "antipathy to what is termed a `wedding,'" the marriage was rushed, with the bride only a few days past her fourteenth birthday. In her autobiographical story, "A Tale of Real Life" Madaline explained that her marital choice was driven by pity rather than love. "I felt that he was alone, was not happy and the loss of my love would make him more so, and in an ill-fated moment construed my sympathy into love and agreed to become his wife."(17)

After they wed, the couple moved to Clinton, Mississippi, where Madaline bore--and later buried--three children. One presumably died in childbirth; the other two probably died during an epidemic of scarlet fever, a common disease throughout the region at this time. After these tragic losses, the Elliotts moved to New Orleans, where a fourth child was born. The marriage dissolved, however, and Madaline and Dempsey Elliott separated. The cause of this failed marriage remains uncertain. Was it the result of infidelity on his part? Was he unable to provide for his young wife and child? Was the tragedy of their years in Clinton simply too stressful for the ill-suited couple? Whatever the case, it is unlikely that Madaline and Dempsey ever legally divorced. In fact, until the 1830s, divorce in most southern states was granted only by petition through the state legislature.(18) Divorce remained both difficult to obtain and uncommon throughout the antebellum period. As historian Victoria Bynum asserts, this meant that "acceptance of a man's proposal of marriage constituted the most important decision most free women would ever make."(19) Southern white women were expected to accept their choices in life without complaint; Catherine Clinton explains, "a wife's inability to coexist peacefully with her husband was no legal ground for divorce; rather, southerners censured women for acting on such an inabilitY."(20) In separating from her husband whatever the reasons--Madaline violated clear social mores.

Reduced in circumstances, Madaline struggled to support herself and her sickly child, Isabella, selling her paintings and teaching at the New Orleans Female Orphan Asylum. But as Madaline soon discovered, options for women outside of marriage were extremely limited; occupational choices were few, earnings were pitiful, and economic independence was very difficult to achieve.(21) Faust notes that far fewer southern than northern white women were employed outside their own households, and fewer still of these were of the middling or upper orders. "Those white southern women who worked did so out of necessity, and their labor carried with it a stigma of debased status and an aura of vague disreputability." Even occupations such as teaching or shopkeeping, considered appropriate and respectable for middle-class women in the North, remained almost exclusively the province of men.(22) And while an unmarried middle or upper-class woman might find work as a teacher or governess or perhaps make a bit of money sewing or writing, it was rare for her to live independently apart from her family. An unmarried southern woman such as Madaline risked ruining her own reputation and that of her family if she stepped beyond the bounds set by social convention.(23)

Isabella died when she was about 19 months old, and Madaline moved temporarily back to her uncle's home in Tennessee. Not long after, she became involved with another man, a Mr. Edwards, whom she eventually married. He too was still married to someone else, and when Madaline discovered the truth he deserted her. Once again, Madaline's circumstances were reduced and her social status irrevocably stained by not one but two broken marriages. After turning to various members of her family for support, she eventually returned to New Orleans in 1842 or 1843 at the age of 26. It was there that Madaline met the most prominent actor in the ongoing drama of her life, a young, married insurance broker from New York named Charles Bradbury.(24)

Madaline fell deeply in love with Bradbury in the late summer of 1843 with, as she put it, "the fervor of one who has lost all she ever had to love"(25) Fully aware that Bradbury was married, she envisioned their relationship as a charitable one based on his desire to help a wounded soul. The intensity of Madaline's feelings for Bradbury is evident throughout her writings, particularly the letters she sent him at the start of their illicit relationship. A September 1843 letter begins, "With feelings of burning gratitude and a heart gushing with the purest affection I have seated myself to give vent to a portion on paper." She went on to describe the miserable, degraded state of her heart before meeting her "beloved Charley" and wrote of his "exalted benevolence," "purity of motive," and "nobleness of heart."(26) To Madaline, Bradbury must have appeared an angel of good fortune. He purchased a house for her only six blocks from his own. He also supplied her with all manner of writing and painting materials and books, as well as money. Freed from the struggle to provide for herself, Madaline determined to reconstruct her status, devoting her time to self-improvement in a quest for spiritual and social redemption.

Although Edwards lived outside the boundaries of southern social convention, she created a domestic haven for herself and engaged in many of the activities expected of a good southern lady. Her diaries reveal that she spent her days gardening, sewing, knitting, and painting. Madaline's "little cottage home" became a sacred place where she was able to escape what she perceived as the harsh judgments of the world and "think, reflect, study, and adore." While she recognized that her home was not a place "of domestic social joy shared by parent, brother or sister," it was to her one of "happy seclusion."(27)

Madaline's writing books show that she also spent a great deal of time reading and writing. Like other educated women in the antebellum period, Madaline enjoyed romantic novels and poems. She also made a point of keeping abreast of political affairs and read books on religion and astronomy, as upper-class women were expected to converse intelligently on a broad range of topics. As a means of improvement for women, reading was closely linked with restrictive notions of race and class. Historian Isabelle Lehuu notes that despite the feminization and democratization of reading that occurred during the early decades of the nineteenth century, "book reading continued to be a sign of social status and gentility among southerners."(28)

Madaline Edwards embraced the introspective life of reading not only because she hoped to improve herself, but also because literacy represented a last vestige of her former social position.

The rekindling of her religious faith formed another integral part of Madaline's quest for self-improvement. Ironically, the adulterous Bradbury introduced her to his own minister, Reverend Theodore Clapp of the First Congregational Church, and encouraged her to practice her neglected faith.(29) Edwards entered into this new life enthusiastically, attending services regularly and concluding her Sabbath routine by writing reflective essays on the sermons. Reverend Clapp's engaging personality and optimistic religious philosophy, which emphasized man's free will and the possibility of salvation even for grave sinners, appealed to Madaline. Like other ministers during the period following the Second Great Awakening, Reverend Clapp questioned the doctrine of original sin and maintained that good could be found in even the most degraded people.(30) It is not surprising that Madaline Edwards, a fallen woman entwined in an illicit love affair, would find solace in Clapp's church.

Still, Reverend Clapp's religious liberalism was constrained by nineteenth-century gender conventions. In this respect, he was not unlike other Protestant ministers of his time. Evangelical religion conveyed a two-fold message to women: Clerical guides needed to celebrate women as religion's supporters in order to expand their congregations, and yet, to preserve social stability, they continued to reaffirm women's subordination to men.(31) On the one hand, Reverend Clapp's sermons gave Madaline hope that her condition was not irrevocable, that she could attain redemption. On the other, his judgmental conclusions troubled her deeply.

There is no better illustration of Madaline's personal dilemma than her written reactions to two related sermons, one on the duties and privileges of woman, and the other on the duties of man toward woman. These essay-style reflections are among the most striking passages in Madaline's writing books, dramatically highlighting her efforts to come to terms with her difficult social position. Madaline absorbs the prescriptive information in Reverend Clapp's sermons, processes this information in her own words, and then attempts to remold Clapp's assertions to suit her carefully constructed facade of respectability.

Reverend Clapp gave the first part of his two-pronged exhortation on gender on 28 April 1844. In her diary that afternoon, Madaline wrote, "Went to church today and heard Mr. C. preach upon the duties and privileges of woman in which he not only lauded her above price but above the fixed stars"(32) Later, she composed a long analytical essay deliberately entitled "Woman" in response to Clapp's sermon. Her ambivalence is apparent at the outset:
   Although the sermon was beautiful to the extreme, sublime in the highest
   degree, thrilling and touching, yet to me it had one barb that pierced my
   inmost soul, and hath a sting that will reach the grave if not beyond. He
   said "unless a woman was pure and immaculate she was a curse to all who
   knew her."(33)


Madaline could not help feeling singled out by such rebukes. She lamented that the mistakes of her past alienated her from a community of women "whose sympathies would be the sweetest cordial, whose approbation would be the noblest incentive to excite [her] to be in part at least the angelic wife or mother he so beautifully painted today." Madaline looked to Charles, "one of the noblest of spirits on the earth," for her personal redemption. Though her relationship with Charles was not "based on [her] virtue and moral goodness," Charles had "saved her from the lowest degradation." Edwards hoped that Charles could recreate in her an angelic southern lady. "I would," she reasoned, "in his society, in his instruction, in his admonitions and in a congenial soul find all the enjoyment that a mind so organized as mine could desire." She continued:
   Could he look on me as Pygmalion on his own creation and feel proud or even
   glad that such was I of his, how great a charm would hallow the balance of
   my days. It would be a magic that would obscure the past and I should count
   the past as a blessing that it had secured me such a friend. But these are
   phantasies and only add torture.(34)


Throughout her writings Madaline refers to Charles Bradbury as her "guide" or "teacher" In her love letters, she expresses her desire to be molded into a cheerful, better woman, hoping to learn from the example of "one so congenial in soul and sentiment." Painfully aware that her adulterous relationship with Charles disobeyed the tenets of southern womanhood, Madaline rationalized the affair, framing it within the structure of a marriage. She fantasized about the perfect scene of domestic bliss with Charles Bradbury returning home after a long day at the office to settle down by a cheerful fireside to "read some work to [her] that would teach [her] to lift her thoughts and mind above the dying things of this life."(35)

Reverend Clapp apparently asserted that women create their sorrows, but Madaline strongly disagreed, portraying herself as the victim of bad men, poor choices, and ill-fortune. If Reverend Clapp could see "the disgrace that looms over the path I am destined to tread through life," she wrote, "he would think others had dug the grave in which hope and happiness lie buried and had created for me those sorrows that must end only in the grave that receives the ill-fated victim."(36) Madaline clearly subscribed to the nineteenth-century notion of the frailty and dependence of women who derived a sense of self through their relationships with men. But if other men were responsible for her fall, Bradbury was responsible for her rescue. In order to justify their illicit relationship, Madaline convinced herself of Bradbury's purity of motive and benevolence, often claiming that she owed a debt of gratitude to God and to Bradbury for pulling her out of the depths of despair.

Madaline concluded her essay with a commentary on the prosperous ladies of the congregation who, she believed, did not take advantage of "the glorious opportunities" to improve their minds. She speculated that most, when thinking back on Clapp's sermon "a week hence will not know two sentences in it" and she reflected that "those whose privileges are the greatest, have the least taste for research and study and are content to while away their time with no book for a companion loftier than a romance." Though "blest with all the acquisitions for improving their minds [such women acted] as though they were animals living by instinct and felt no wish to rise higher."(37) In contrast, Madaline proclaimed, she relished the opportunity to improve her mind, even if her ultimate aim was to please Charles Bradbury.

Throughout her response to Reverend Clapp's sermon, Madaline attempted to redefine the attributes of southern womanhood. In the act of writing, she stretched and remolded each of the tenets of the ideal to suit her own circumstances. She recognized that she could never be pure, but she saw herself as a victim rather than a sinner. She saw herself as pious, but rejected the concept of eternal damnation. She extolled the virtues of domesticity, but lived the life of a kept woman. She highlighted her frailty, seeing it as the cause of her fall. She adhered to the notions of dependence and submission, willingly placing herself in the hands of Charles Bradbury, her benevolent savior. She adapted these conventional ideals with the hope of lending a sense of normality to an abnormal relationship. In sum, Madaline Edwards embraced the values of true womanhood--purity, piety, frailty, submissiveness, and domesticity. Knowing that she could never be a true woman in the eyes of New Orleans society, she strove to become a true woman on her own terms.

Theodore Clapp's sermon on the duties and privileges of woman made a deep impression on Madaline Edwards. Although it painfully reminded her of her fallen state, in the end it reinforced her desire to redeem herself by cultivating womanly virtues. A sermon Clapp gave a few weeks later on "the duty of man towards woman" was not so easily reconciled with her philosophy. Clapp's message instead inspired a great wave of distress, as well as another thoughtful essay.

The three weeks that passed between the two sermons were eventful for Madaline Edwards. Just four days after Clapp's first sermon, she found out for certain what she had suspected--she was pregnant with Bradbury's baby. On 2 May she wrote, "learned of a certainty that I am in a certain situation." Divulging her situation to Bradbury, she commented afterward, "do not believe he likes it much."(38) He did, however, continue to visit her on an almost daily basis, bringing her little gifts of strawberries and a bottle of cologne. He also arranged for a doctor to examine her, and on 8 May, Edwards noted that the doctor "confirmed my hopes concerning my situation"(39) Madaline believed that her pregnancy and the birth of a child would bind her and Charles together.

On Sunday, 12 May, Madaline Edwards set out to attend church, but much to her dismay, Bradbury and his wife also were passengers on the same streetcar on their way to First Congregational Church. Later that day, Edwards described this uncomfortable meeting in her diary. "Rode down and up with them" she wrote. "O if she could have read my heart jealousy would almost have given way to pity for me, but is this ever thus my life.... I have had a long cry to night [sic] called up by one who meant not to wound me. O my poor heart"(40) This harsh reminder that Bradbury was not truly hers affected Edwards deeply, and a melancholy mood plagued her during the next week. Moreover, Edwards was aware that Bradbury was planning to leave on an extended trip to the North. Her depression deepened as his departure date grew nearer, and tensions between Edwards and Bradbury increased. On Saturday evening 18 May, the lovers argued, and Madaline "wept until [her] heart [was] nearly broken"(41) The next morning she awoke and commented in her diary, "Feel wretched this morning after my agony of mind, indeed it preys upon me so that I feel but little able to go to church to day" But she pulled herself together and went to hear Reverend Clapp preach, an experience she afterward regretted.(42)

On Sunday afternoon Madaline wrote in her diary:
   Heard Mr. Clapp preach today upon the duty of man towards woman. He spoke
   beautifully and feelingly and when he portrayed the character of the
   seducer and his victim the tears unbidden fell from my eyes and I would
   have given much to have been alone to give them vent for my heart felt as
   if it would burst.(43)


Later that same day, emotionally distraught, Madaline composed an essay in her writing book entitled "Man."(44) In this shorter essay, which filled three pages in her writing book, it is clear that Edwards felt almost crushed by the weight of Reverend Clapp's words and the pain of seeing her lover in church with his unsuspecting wife.

The main subject of Reverend Clapp's sermon was the duplicitous, evil nature of the male seducer. Madaline wrote that he "spoke forcibly of the early and pure offering of love from man to woman;' proclaiming that "when that love became desecrated that man was no longer worthy of the name man." Clapp seemed to be targeting Charles Bradbury as he traced the ruin of young men who "came to this metropolis [and] were drawn into the vortex of dissipation and licentiousness and ended in ruin by the illicit connection with woman." The immoral seducer, Clapp went on to explain, gained the confidence of his victim by proclaiming his good intentions and undying love. Once the unsuspecting woman proclaimed her love in return, "his mark was carried [and] she was cast upon the world heart broken and deserted by all who once knew and loved her"(45)

The sermon destroyed the insecure ethical and moral foundation Madaline had created to justify her relationship with Bradbury. As she sat on the church pew with tears welling up in her eyes, she "felt as if the finger of the whole world was pointed at" her. Madaline went on to declare,
   I felt as one who is doomed to stand on a bleak and lonely island
   surrounded by the Ocean of degradation and witness at a distance happiness,
   innocence and purity that I dare not approach, while the natural essence of
   those qualities were as warm in my breast as others, but one step has lost
   all the bliss attendant on them. I felt if the vile seducer feels half as
   much as his victim he is well punished.(46)


Yet, instead of painting Charles Bradbury as such a villain, she again portrayed him as her savior and herself as the cause of his ruin. "I am debarred" she wrote, "of the society almost entirely of the only one on earth who does not think his time misspent in trying to improve my mind, from him I could learn, and learn to forget my bitter grief."(47) In her mind, Bradbury was still the kindhearted man dedicated to improving her lot. Madaline's greatest fear was that Clapp's powerful sermon would inspire Bradbury to cut off their secret relationship. "I fear from his soul" she lamented, "that he thinks I am the cause of all he can reproach himself for as a husband or moralist,.. and that he can not be happy under these reflections."(48) Edwards recognized that in order to please Bradbury and conform to the ideal of the southern lady, she had to suppress her emotions--to rise above her feelings of degradation and despair. But Madaline's heartfelt reaction to Clapp's sermons indicates that within the restrictive world of the South she could not forget her troubled past. A poem that Edwards wrote on 13 August 1844, "On Being Reproved for Weeping, and Asked the Cause" considers this theme, as she ruminates on the concept of fallen womanhood and her ongoing effort to come to terms with her precarious social position.

The first five stanzas of this 14-stanza poem describe various hardships that Madaline had learned to accept: the death of her children, the loss of friends, her poor choices in marriage. The remainder of the poem focuses on the burden she could never come to terms with--her status as fallen woman--and the image of an indelible stain is repeated throughout the poem. She wrote: "I weep that love so deep and true/Should be deemed pollution's stain/Of all the woes I must endure/ This brings the wildest pain." Only in death, Madaline concluded, would this stain be removed, would God's love extend to her, would she be forgiven "For every guilty shame."(49)

Madaline's status weighed heavily on her mind. Even during the best of times, she was constantly concerned about the way others perceived her. In an epilogue to the poem, she concluded, "were moral laws so constructed that a fallen female might reinstate herself by any penance that life could endure ... how gladly would I embrace it.(50) "Pollution's stain" marked Madaline Edwards; she would never achieve the ideal of southern womanhood she so desired.

Although Madaline recognized that the prescribed ideal of the southern lady was unattainable, her self-perceptions were profoundly influenced by this standard. Her position as a social outcast who dwelled among, and still apart made her keenly aware of the ideal and her inability to achieve it. Edwards used the introspective life of reading and writing as an avenue of escape, but, as her writings reveal, prevailing gender conventions set the boundaries of her imaginative life as well. She understood her world and experience through nineteenth-century feminine literary conventions, alternately portraying herself as the victim in a tale of seduction and the heroine of the domestic novel who overcomes misfortune by developing her inner strengths.(51)

Madaline Edwards's troubled relationship with Charles Bradbury continued on for several years. Although the cause is unclear, Madaline's pregnancy never came to term. With Bradbury's assistance, Edwards secured a job as a teacher at a public school in the city in October of 1846. James Breedlove, who had been Charles Bradbury's employer in his earlier years in New Orleans, sat on the school board that hired Edwards. Unfortunately, Breedlove began to make improper advances toward Edwards, and after a brief investigation, the school board fired her in January 1847.(52)

Strained for years by her desperation and his fear of discovery, Madaline and Bradbury continued to communicate by letter for several months. But a letter from him on 25 March 1847 made it clear that their relationship was nearing its end. "It is a very difficult matter for me to make up my mind," he wrote, "that you are not what I had once believed, truly and sincerely believed you were, namely, an exemplary woman at least in heart, if not always so in action." He went on to write, "you have, I freely admit Mad, had a great deal to contend with, probably more than you can well bear, still with assistance of a proper exercise of our mental facilities, (usually called good common sense,) we overcome immense obstacles."(53)

Desperate circumstances finally prompted Madaline Edwards to action, recognizing that there was nothing left for her in New Orleans. She knew her reputation was permanently stained following her dismissal from teaching and that it would be next to impossible for her to live in the city without Bradbury's financial support. In a letter to Bradbury on 25 April 1847, Edwards wrote, "Charley, I always told you when we parted I could not willingly live near you.... [O]ur separation leaves me no wish to remain here."(54) Soon after, she moved to California. Upon her departure for California, Madaline left her writing books with Bradbury. In her final letter she explained,
   I wrote [these books] with the sole hope and belief that they would be
   yours.... Little did I think when penning the most of those pages, a day
   was so close at hand when you would spurn them and me. Your name appears so
   oft in them that I cannot well leave them to another.(55)


Leaving Bradbury with her writing books, Madaline left New Orleans to start afresh and begin a new chapter in her quest for self-definition. In the West, Madaline Edwards hoped to forge a new identity.

While none of Madaline's writings from her years in California remain, research reveals that Madaline joined the throngs of "forty-niners" seeking a new life in the West. She eventually settled in San Francisco, where she briefly kept a boarding house in a fashionable section of the growing town. In the end, however, Madaline Edwards moved to a poor, marginal neighborhood where she died at the age of 38. She was buried in a pauper's grave in August 1854.(56)

Piecing together Madaline Edwards's life from her diaries, letters, and writing books reveals the importance of the introspective act of writing in this southern woman's search for self-definition. Her writings also illustrate the centrality of gender as a category that southern women used to define themselves. Finally, they reveal a period and culture that offered extremely narrow options, both economically and socially, for women beyond the control of fathers, husbands, or brothers. In the end, Madaline Edwards used her writings to imagine a changed life course and take bold action. Writing not only helped to ease her suffering, it also nurtured new self-awareness. Escaping to the pages of her writing books allowed Madaline to examine herself, her relationships, and her place within the restrictive ideals of southern womanhood.

(1) Joan E. Cashin, ed., Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (Baltimore, 1996), 6.

(2) Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "Family and Female Identity in the Antebellum South: Sarah Gayle and Her Family" in In Joy and in Sorrow: Women, Family, and Marriage in the Victorian South, ed. Carol Blesser (New York and Oxford, 1991); Laura E Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction (Urbana and Chicago, 1997); Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill and London, 1996).

(3) Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women in the Old South (Chapel Hill and London, 1988), 195.

(4) Laura Edwards, Gendered Strife, 130.

(5) Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "Family and Female Identity in the Antebellum South," 19.

(6) Kent Anderson Leslie, "The Myth of The Southern Lady: Antebellum Proslavery Rhetoric and the Proper Place of Woman" Sociological Spectrum 6 (1986): 31-49.

(7) See Fox-Genovese, "Family and Female Identity in the Antebellum South"; Virginia Ingraham Burr, ed., The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889; Michael O'Brian, ed., An Evening When Alone: Four Journals of Single Women in the South, 1847-1867 (Charlottesville, 1993); Margo Culley, ed., A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women from 1794 to the Present (New York, 1985); Suzanne Bunkers and Cynthia Huff, eds., Inscribing the Daily: Critical Essays on Women's Diaries (Amherst, 1996).

(8) Faust, Mothers of Invention, 162.

(9) Dell Upton, ed., Madaline: Love and Survival in Antebellum New Orleans (Athens and London, 1996), 1-47.

(10) See Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress: Woman's Worm in the Old South (New York, 1982), chap. 7; Anya Jabour, "`Grown Girls, Highly Cultivated': Female Education in an Antebellum Southern Family" Journal of Southern History 64, no. 1 (1998): 23-64; Christie Anne Farnham, The Education of the Southern Bella Higher Education and Student Socialization in the Antebellum South (New York and London, 1994).

(11) Upton, ed., Madaline, 5.

(12) Clinton, Plantation Mistress, 123-38.

(13) Upton, ed., Madaline, 5.

(14) Madaline Selima Edwards, "Tale of Real Life" 12 September 1844, Writing Books, Charles Bradbury Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, series 2 (hereafter MSE Writings Books), microfilm edition; Anne Firor Scott and William Chafe, eds., Southern Women and Their Families in the Nineteenth Century: Papers and Diaries, Louisiana and Mississippi Collections, series A, part 3, Southern Historical Collection.

(15) Anya Jabour, Marriage in the Early Republic; Elizabeth and William Wirt and the Companionate Ideal (Baltimore, 1998), 4.

(16) Edwards, "Tale of Real Life."

(17) Upton, ed., Madaline, 6.

(18) Ibid.; Clinton, Plantation Mistress, 79.

(19) Victoria Bynum, Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South (Chapel Hill, 1992), 61.

(20) Clinton, Plantation Mistress, 80; Sally G. McMillen, Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South (Arlington Heights, 1992), 37.

(21) Clinton, Plantation Mistress, 80; McMillen, Southern Women, 37.

(22) Faust, Mothers of Invention, 81.

(23) Bynum, Unruly Women, 45.

(24) Upton, ed. Madaline, 8.

(25) MSE to Charles Bradbury, September 1843, series 1, Bradbury Papers (hereafter MSE Papers).

(26) Ibid.

(27) Madaline Selima Edwards, "Woman," 28 April 1844, MSE Writing Books.

(28) Nina Baym, Novels, Readers, and Reviewers: Responses to Fiction in Antebellum America (Ithaca, 1984); Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household, 259; Elizabeth Lehuu, "`Knit Some and Read Some': Women and the Uses of Print in the Old South" (paper presented at the Third Carleton Conference on the History of the Family, Ottawa, Ontario, May 1997), 5-6.

(29) Upton, ed., Madaline, 28-36.

(30) Jean Friedman, The Enclosed Garden: Women and Community in the Evangelical South, 1830-1900 (Chapel Hill, 1985).

(31) Nancy Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Women's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835 (New Haven, 1977), 159; Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York, 1977).

(32) Madaline Selima Edwards Diary, 28 April 1844, Bradbury Papers, series 2 (hereafter MSE Diary).

(33) Edwards, "Woman."

(34) Ibid.

(35) Madaline Selima Edwards to Charles Bradbury, Fall n.d., 1843, MSE Papers.

(36) Edwards, "Woman."

(37) Ibid.

(38) MSE Diary, 2 May 1844.

(39) Ibid., 8 May 1844.

(40) Ibid., 12 May 1844.

(41) bid., 18 May 1844.

(42) Ibid., 13-19 May 1844.

(43) Ibid., 12 May 1844.

(44) Ibid., 19 May 1844.

(45) Madaline Selima Edwards, "Man" 18 May 1844, MSE Writing Books.

(46) Ibid.

(47) Ibid.

(48) Ibid.

(49) Madaline Selima Edwards, "On Being Reproved for Weeping and Asked the Cause," 12 August 1844, MSE Writing Books.

(50) Ibid.

(51) Upton, ed., Madaline, 44-46; Stephen Kagel and Lorenza Gramenga, "Rewriting Her Life: Fictionalization and the Uses of Fictional Models in Early Women's Diaries," in Inscribing the Daily, 3855.

(52) Upton, ed., Madaline, 23.

(53) Charles Bradbury to Madaline Edwards, 25 March 1847 (emphasis in original).

(54) MSE to Charles Bradbury, 16 May 1847.

(55) MSE to Charles Bradbury, 25 April 1847.

(56) Upton, ed., Madaline, 317-20.

Erin Kennedy Pelger teaches history at Mission Mountain School, Condon, Montana.

Erin Kennedy Pelger examines the writing books of Madaline Edwards, a "fallen woman" of antebellum New Orleans, to show how nineteenth-century gender conventions constrained single women in urban society.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:PELGER, ERIN KENNEDY
Publication:The Historian
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:Mar 22, 2000
Words:5966
Previous Article:WRITERS TAKE SIDES, STALINISTS TAKE CONTROL: THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS FOR THE DEFENSE OF CULTURE (SPAIN 1937).
Next Article:Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |