tv The Civil War Women Suffragists Abolitionists CSPAN September 4, 2019 10:11pm-11:18pm EDT
ever since i was working in washington, in how business and government interact with one another. they have an antagonistic relationship but they also have a collaborative relationship. the real story of american history is one of public, private partnership in many ways, in ways that sometimes are unseen. so this was -- i think the story's a really great way to get into that. >> university of washington history professor margaret omara discusses her book, the code, silicon valley and the remaking of america. sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. historians discussed the impact of sufficientragists and abolitionists during the reconstruction era. drexel university's vision 2020 co-hosted this event. ladies and gentlemen, this is an important and special and
meaningful occasion. because we have a group of historians who have advised us in the opening of our new gallery civil war and reconstruction, the battle for freedom and equality. [ applause ] who has seen the new gallery? and everyone who's not can vibe about vision 2020, which is really important and i think is co-sponsoring our event this evening. isn't it wonderful? it's so exciting. and so inspiring and so meaningful to tell the story of how the equality promised in jefferson's declaration was thwarted in the original constitution, resurrected by lincoln at gettysburg, and frederick douglass, thwarted again and then resurrected by king. and thavolia glymph and kate
mass masur were two of the scholars, as well as catherine clinton tonight, moderated by my colleague anna ulrich. created an incredible team. if you haven't seen it, go down as soon as possible and see it and tell me what you think. please join me greeting lana and our panelists. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> good evening, and welcome to the national constitution center. thank you, jeff, for that kind introduction. my name is lana ulrich.
tonight's program, women -- >> lights? >> lights a little bit. can we raise the lights? >> you're sitting in the dark. >> can we have -- can we adjust the lights? i'm going to continue the introductions, hopefully you can hear me, even if you can't see us. tonight's program, women and the civil war, the untold stories, is presented in conjunction with our new exhibit. and before i introduced our esteemed panel i would just like to thank our partner, vision 2020, at drexel university. vision 2020 is a national initiative to achieve women's economic, political and social equality with its focus on the year 2020, the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. thanks to them for co-sponsoring this program with us. [ applause ] i'm clooigtdelighted to introdu
today's guests. catherine clinton, kate masur and thavolia glymph. catherine clinton is the chair of american history in san antonio, she's the author of over 30 books, including harriet tubman road to freedom, and stepdaughters of history, southern women and the civil war, and following the program these books are available for purchase. kate masur assistant professor of history at northwestern university. she's the author of an example for all the land, emancipation and the struggle over equality in washington, d.c. as well as co-author of the national parks service study on reconstruction. and finally that vovolia glympha member of our advisory board and worked on our upcoming theater
production entitled fourteen, the author of out of the house of bondage and the women's fight, the civil war's battles for home, freedom and nation. please join me in welcoming our guests. so i'd like to get into some specific stories of women that are featured in our exhibit. but before we do so i just want to ask a very brief opening question to each of you. if you could just say a few things about your thoughts on the role of women during this crucial time period both enslaved women and free women, what were the means by which they could affect change during this time period, thavolia, start with you at the end. >> what were the means by which women affected change? so it's a big question. and i think since this program is focused on both the civil war and reconstruction we can start
with civil war. so when i think about women and when i research and write about women and the war i'm constantly trying to think about them where they are, where the war finds them and also where they are when the war ends which means that i have to think about plantation women, women who owned slaves quite differently from the way i think about northern women who became nurses or missionaries in the south, and quite differently from poor white women in the mountains of north carolina or poor white women in the urban north. and so my sort of ambition has been to put these women into dialogue with each other and so in my work i'm trying to see what happens when poor white women come face to face with rich women in the war because
this is what happens, the war uproots people and places them in places that they have not been before. so when rich white women are fleeing the union army, and run into the mountains and they're running into territory occupied by poor white women what does that look like and what happens? and so briefly then my goal for the war is to sort of put them in conversation with each other and figure out what their ambitions are for the war and whether or not those ambitions are realized. >> kate, what are your thoughts on what thavolia has mentioned? >> segue from the civil war itself to talking about reconstruction. one of the things about the civil war that we have to understand if we're going to understand reconstruction is it's -- the war transformed so many things all across the country. it was a period of tremendous
upheaval in the south where slavery was crumbling, where most of the battles were fought, which saw, you know, all of this military disruption, dislocation of people but it also really transformed the north and it transformed what people thought was possible and one of the central story lines of reconstruction is that it created a moment in which it was possible to kind of rethink the foundations of the united states. right, the constitution itself. here's a crisis. it's an opportunity to not just wipe away slavery, which is what the 13th amendment did, but also to set the nation on a new footing beyond that. and so for women who were experiencing this transformation knew kin , new kinds of roles opened up, in particular, you know, if you think about the kinds of dislocations that happened during the war, and if you think about women, this is a more familiar story for world war ii, of women moving into roles they
might not have taken up before, running plantations or farms, moving into new kinds of work, moving into new kinds of philanthropic activities, fund raising. women of all different kinds experienced a variety of new kinds of roles and that's part of what helped them think differently about what nations are like in the future. i'm sure we'll talk about things like women in voting rights and women in citizenship. it's important to think about the ways the war itself transformed people's lives in ways that made them think, now, let's look ahead to a different era. how could things be different now that this war is kind of coming to an end? >> same question to you, katherine. >> i have spent a lot of time thinking about the voices of women, and i'm in agreement with my colleagues in trying to put that into a larger framework, and historians will debate and disagree over when it happened, why it happened. but i think we all agree that in the past 25 years in particular,
but the past half century, since the civil war, the voices of women have come to the fore and we look and see the way which as kate points out the acceleration of women seizing the opportunity. so the moment you declare a war you have several thousand women assembling in new york trying to really create what becomes the sanitary commission. we look at the way in which women seize this opportunity. is it when they welcomed? no, it was when they felt they had to embrace. i'm particularly heartened by the way the reconstitution and the reformation of households is something very important in the civil war and looking at it as a household war has become a new way of looking at it because we know that the labor system was destroyed, or attempted to be destroyed in term of the amendment and in terms of trying to transform from slavery to freedom but we also know that the transformation of families
was so important and the role of women in that transformation, asserting mother hood rights, asserting rights because it wasn't just a system of exploiting the producers, it truly exploited the reproducers. so women, i think, had a special role in the transformation to a new world, although voting rights and citizenship might be denied they nevertheless could be part of the political economy that would transform the south in many ways for good and bad. but that's something we can get into later. >> sure. let's talk about some specific stories of some specific women and jump off of their stories to talk about some of these other themes. so let's start with harriet tubman, a well-known figure featured in our exhibit. catherine, i'll start with you, tell us about her, her life, people are familiar with her work on the underground railroad, maybe mention something people aren't as familiar with. >> i do think that she was someone who believed in the
fundamental principle that slavery was war. therefore she never really expected -- she commented to other abolitionists that she did not expect emancipation in her own lifetime. but when war came she certainly seized the opportunity to take her underground railroad aboveground and she felt the need first to serve at fortress monroe to be a nurse but soon the governor of massachusetts sent her down to occupied south carolina where he thought she could do more good and the fact that she was an african-american woman who could move freely through the country and not be suspected meant that she did military operations and was involved in the river raid. one night, going up keep into the heart of dixie, she was able to liberate 560 people. her civil war career is coming
to the fore. i'm so pleased you put the biography of her written in the exhibit where she is indeed carrying a rifle. she did learn to tote a gun. but i do want to correct a lot of impressions that she did not walk around during the underground railroad years carrying a rifle. that would not have been. so many of the folklore, images of her. one thing is we're getting more of her career as really a military operator. and someone who was very sophisticated in her approach. but i know too much about her and my colleagues may have other comments or insights they want to share, or other people. i'm not sure. >> kate, thavolia? >> no. >> i thought we could talk either with -- about harriet tubman or when we talk about harriet jacobs, about the role of african-american women who came from the north into the south. so you have harriet jacobs and
ann craft who have daring escape stories from slavery. if you could mention harriet's escape story. >> harriet jacobs you may be familiar with her narrative, it's called incidents in the life of a slave girl. have you heard about that book? so it was -- i'm not sure about the publication in history but it came into -- >> 1861. >> when it was sort of forgotten but came into the literary canon with a second wave feminist movement it became taught in women's history classes, incidents in the life of a slave girl and in it she describes her life in slavery in north carolina and her eventual escape to freedom. and it's a grueling story, parts of it that are in north carolina where she talks about somewhat frankly about sexual exploitation of enslaved women by white men, how white men were constantly pursuing her, really
difficult decisions that she made about her own sexuality because of the ways that white men were trying to coerce her into having sexual relations with them. she ends up hiding out in a kind of tiny attic space for years, or many, many months before she's finally able to kind of make her escape to the north. and i'm happy for my colleagues to add to that. but i was thinking, as i was kind of thinking about this panel, one thing she shares in common with harriet tubman is that she and tubman and also a woman from philadelphia named charlotte thornton are all examples of african-american women who were living in the north who went south during the civil war to participate in kind of helping in the transition from slavery to freedom. and so in the case of harriet jacobs she ended up in alexandria, virginia working with slaves who had escaped from maryland and virginia and had come into alexandria and it was occupied by u.s. military forces
at that point. and jacobs was involved in kind of hospital work and relief work, working with a white woman named julia wilbur. there's a lot of correspondence regarding their friendship and what was going on in alexandria at that time. it's pretty well documented and it's really interesting, again, to see this is a multifaceted person. she had a lot of connections in the anti-slavery movement by the time she made it to the north and at the same time was doing this friedman's relief work in the south and in alexandria. later in life she moved to washington, d.c. and ended up there. so -- >> i think the black women abolitionists, also in the black women rescuers knew more than others that the plantation was the original hostile work environment, to use the current parlance. and therefore this issue of sexual harassment and exploitation was upper most. tubman at one point was in bufrt
and trying to protect many of the women coming into the camps because wartime can release a lot of hostilities and certainly trying to protect women during that period was really important. but both, you know, the craft, escape. one of the things is that we have these memoirs and as kate's pointing out there's a whole history of having historical verification and going into the records. so certainly a lot of the work both of you have done has been really remarkable, recovering the lives of women that we have their names, we knew something about them. but when i started out, won't tell you when, harriet jacobs was just discredited and disputed until gene yellen came along and gave us an entire history that she was able to dig out of the archives. >> yeah. speaking of abolitionists i wanted to touch briefly on another figure, harriet beecher stow. we have the first edition of
uncle tom's cabin on display from the library company of philadelphia. and thavolia, is there anything you want to add about the abolitionist movement in general and the role of women as abolitionists writing about the way they were able to communicate or methods they were able to spread the anti-slavery movement. >> so, i mean, again, it's a big story. women abolitionists faced the kinds of -- oh, so now you're in the dark. i think they're trying to tell us something about this particular program. so women abolitionists faced the same kinds of problems that men faced who were abolitionists. they were despised. they were hated.
they were -- had all kinds of manner of things thrown at them. women, especially, were not supposed to speak in public. so that was a problem. but women abolitionists insisted on having their voices heard. we know a lot about white women abolitionists in particular, and probably less about black women abolitionists with the exception of so journer truth who stood up not only for emancipation but for women's rights and even when black women abolitionists were often not allowed to join certain white women abolitionist organizations they persisted. they organized their own separate organizations. and so you have this interesting kind of situation where women who are anti-slavery, are not all necessarily pro-equality.
so women who fought to end slavery did not necessarily believe that black people were equal. and so you see this kind of problem in the abolitionist movement in general and also within the white women's abolitionist movement. at the same time. sometimes they worked together. i mean, you just heard for example talking about julia wilbur working with harriet jacobs. so they worked together at the same time, julia wilbur, a white woman abolitionist is sending letters back to her folk saying, you know, like, i really did not like harriet jacobs. why did they send her here? she's competition. so even into the war this kind of problem persists. and i also would like to -- did
you say talk less? i'd also like to really emphasize how important it is for us to remember that abolitionists were not all -- that not all abolitionists lived in the north. that the most fervent abolitionists, the abolitionists who had what we call, you know, like the strongest anti-slavery ground were the enslaved people themselves that they were the ones who rose up. that they were the ones who engaged in day-to-day resistance, that they were the ones who became fugitives like ellen craft who you just saw a picture of who was fair skinned enough to disguise herself as a slave holding man and her husband went with her, or fled with her as her servant.
you know, people -- and she wasn't the only black woman who disguised herself to make it to freedom, as a man that is. so the women -- black women in the south who were enslaved played a huge, huge role in slavery's destruction, both before the war and during the war when, you know, they were the ones running away to union lines. they were the ones who said this war in the household that we've been having we're going to continue to have until that household is destroyed. so you have somewhere in the neighborhood 300,000 women who flee, who leave slavery. and you might say well, that's nothing. there are 4 million slaves in the south. well, it's still quite significant. and those who did not run found ways to try to destroy the
system. >> yeah. catherine, anything you want to add about the abolitionest movement? >> i just wish i had her sales. >> selling thousands of copies so that -- >> the mic. >> sorry, can you hear me now? >> i apologize. i mean, certainly there was a hunger for her story, but she was telling the stories of those people that were told to her who had risked life and limb. and the entire project of the resisting slavery often was on the backs of fugitives during the war. what they translated and called contraband. so we do have a continuum that the anti-slavery movement was resistance and fighting and fleeing. which translated into a broader war. so we can sort of make a continuum. and women's role in it as thavolia's pointed out has been neglected and now i think it's coming to the fore with the
recovery of these women and the exhibits which give us and visitors their names, their faces, a bit of their stories. so we get to know more about them. >> so another very important figure i'd like to touch on is harriet scott. she was the wife of dread scott. the plaintiff in the infamous dread scott case. most people are aware of dread but don't know his wife was also co-plaintiff. and we have dread's petition for freedom on display in the exhibit and we also have harriet's which will go on display after dread's. thavolia, what was the dig cant of the scott case and what's the legacy of the case today? >> well, i mean obviously the significance is that the supreme court, the decision in the supreme court, which declared that people of african descent were not citizens of the united states and could never be citizens and so this decision by
the judge comes out of a case with harriet and her husband who sue because they have lived in free territory and on the basis of having lived in that free territory they claim their freedom. now, they've been moved around a lot. harriet and dread scott. but various people who claimed ownership of them. and so when they come back to missouri they sue and the case ends up in the supreme court and we talk about dread scott more than we talk about his wife harriet who was at least had her own case initially and then the suits were brought together. and also who contributed immensely to their household, you know. i mean, dread scott. they had to make a living too. and so she was very important there. but certainly much forgotten in history. >> kate? >> well, i think one thing about
harriet scott, helps us think about a broader phenomenon, which is one of the ways that enslaved people resisted and fought against slavery, which is the phenomenon of freedom suits themselves and there has been historians recently unearthing these suits. we focus on the supreme court and really big decisions like the dread scott decision but actually southern african-americans, including enslaved people or people who were claimed as slaves were often going to court and they often filed suit for their freedom, not just in st. louis which is very well documented but i've looked at these same kinds of suits in washington, d.c. and they're really all over the place. essentially when you filed a freedom suit you were essentially saying that you were illegally held in bondage. when you think about it it's hard to wrap your mind around, the whole system is so unethical, it's so awful so it seems like all of it should be illegal but of course there were, in fact, legal rules around slavery, many, many, many of them.
so people would say, for example, so the scotts said they had been in free territory, now they're back in missouri which is a slave state but they still were entitled to freedom according to ways that the courts in missouri had worked if you had set, even if you were claimed as a slave, if you set foot on free territory you could no longer be held as a slave and if you were back in missouri and someone said you were still their slave you could go to court and say no, no, i'm entitled to my freedom. there were other ways people claimed freedom in freedom suits. one was to stha you possibly your ancestors were unfairly enslaved or illegally enslaved because you had a white woman or free woman in your ancestry. because slavery followed the status of the mother, my mother was held in slavery but her mother was a free woman of color and a white woman is and therefore i and my children are entitled to our freedom. there are other ways people claimed freedom. but i also want to add in this
context is women often filed freedom suits. i don't know what the numbers are, but certainly in the cases i've looked at for the district of columbia, easily half of the freedom suits are being filed by women, often on behalf of themselves and their children. because they were so often connected with and responsible for their children that if they could successfully file a freedom suit it wasn't just for themselves but also for their kids. it's one of the ways that we see women's legal knowledge, women's agency, women's ideas about their families, that this was so important to them that they would pursue freedom suits. you know, very, very strongly to the point of hiring lawyers, being willing to risk a lot to pursue these kind of suits in. that sense i would want to see harriet scott as really special but part of a much larger and important phenomenon. >> both harriet tubman, when she was married, paid $5 to a lawyer to try and ascertain if her
mother had been held illegally in slavely and so she was entitled to her freedom. it just, to me, i remember reading and saying, again, the astonishment of the sophistication of the knowledge. yes, she was illiterate but no she was quite aware of the law and we also can look at the way sojourner truth fought to have her son returned to her because he had been illegally seized and sold. so the way in which women actively pursued this. i think for themselves, but certainly for their families, is a tale. and the harriets certainly do tell the tale. >> so thavolia and katherine, you've both mentioned sojourner truth. she was an abolitionist but also a suffragist. i have her here with elizabeth cotty stanton, after that was ratified and women were excluded they divorced from douglass and
the suffrage movement was split. so can we -- thavolia, is there anything you want to add about sojourner truth's work on the suffragist movement or the sufficie suffrage movement in general and the outcome of it after the 15th amendment was passed? >> where would i start? so women, there were many women abolitionists who were also trying to find a way simultaneously to get suffrage for women. many of these women decided, okay, we will wait and give -- and make sure that black men have the vote, the 15th amendment. some women were not happy with that decision to wait and allow black men to have the vote first
and i think that disagreement between those who were willing to say, well, we should have male suffrage across the board and those who were saying, you know, like women have to have the right to vote it would lead to all kinds of complications and very disturbing battles in the years to come. when women, northern women suffragists decided that one of the most fruitful ways to get suffrage for women was to have a national movement and to have a national movement they had to have southern women included. and southern white women said okay. but their position was that we will fight for women's suffrage in order to destroy the black vote. and so women's suffrage, the
movement, was torn. black women felt -- often felt that they were ignored. and so you have major battles not only between ida b. welles, for example, in the women's suffrage, ida b. welles who's born in 1963 but who becomes this really fierce anti-lynching campaigner, and who is also a suffragist, who's a journalist. and who also decides to get married. and when she got married, you know, some of the white suffragists said, you know, this is not good. you can't be a wife and a suffragist at the same time. but she did it and she, you know, this is a woman who had -- when she left memphis she left because there was a bounty on
her head because she stood up when black men had been lynched and these men who were her friends. and she -- after that she became, i would say, the foremost person in this country leading the anti-lynching campaign. that she would, you know -- and also she was a co-founder of the naacp, very important to remember about her. women's suffrage, we eventually get the right to vote that we're about to celebrate, the anniversary of, the 100th anniversary but it was a hard fought campaign not just for the enemies -- or the enemy was men. but enemies women made among themselves. >> so the division really was so evident in the 1890s when someone like frederick douglass had been present in the
anti-bell umm movement and pushed women to add the vote to their agenda and white women did add the vote to their agenda and by the 1890s because of the southern strategy, as it was called, which really was a white supremacy strategy were willing to advocate and use the rhetoric of racism, at a time at a volia is pointing out you had such violent racism in the united states that you had in the peak year of lynching, a lynching every other day in america. so there was women being folded into that. and women's role in that was often very complicated. rebecca fellton was the first woman to serve in the u.s. senate because she had made some very striking remarks as a georgia woman about the protection of white women. we see the evolution. one of the things we hope next year with the anniversary, we can tell many stories. i'm particularly sensitive to
the way in which we have battles over rhetoric, but also battles over statues. unfortunately there's a lot of statue battles going on now with sojourner truth needed to have her place as such a leader who stood up to white women, who stood up to white men, who stood up to black men, and made the point that the -- we need to frame the battle of politics, that it is intersectionality which is a modern theory term but those of us looking at the past see how sensitive everyone was during that era to the varieties of change, who got to speak what the platform was. >> yeah. kate, you've written, too, about the suffrage movement in d.c. is there anything that you'd like to add about this, you know, conflict? >> i mean, let's see, what can i add? you know, in the moment, both of you sort of jumped ahead to the kind of next phase in the 1890s. in the moment of sort of the
late 1860s is when a lot of the existing suffrage movement really blew up really, really blew up over the question of african-american men's right to vote and the 15th amendment in particular. and when you -- when you look at how that went down and a lot of the -- one of the wonderful things about the web, right, is a lot of primary sources and a lot of stuff is readily available. if you begin to look at the things that susan b. anthony and elizabeth cady stanton, they really were the preeminent white women movers of that movement, they were so -- they really thought that this moment as we were talking about at the beginning of the tremendous upheaval of the civil war and reconstruction was the moment they had to get women's right to vote. and when they were forced to wrap their mind around the idea that that was probably not going to come to pass because the
republicans were more focused on -- the republicans who were in power were more focused on guaranteeing, attempting to guarantee the right to vote to african-american men out of the urgency that came out of emancipation and the urgency of what kind of needed to happen to secure democracy and a semblance of safety and well-being for african-americans in the south. when they realized that was not also going to include what they called universal suffrage or suffrage voting rights for women they aligned themselves with the democratic party which was extraordinarily racist at that time. they themselves, especially stanton, started using remarkably racist rhetoric against african-american men, chinese immigrants. saying things like we cannot believe that the protestant white women like your puritan mothers are going to be denied the right to vote when all of these, you know, drags, horrible
people are going to be allowed to vote. and so the kind of racism that they resorted to in that moment is deplorable. it's horrible to read and it really makes you understand, i mean to -- i actually kind of -- i like the term intersectionality and intersectional for this purpose because it really makes you understand how people who are fighting for what they consider to be something that is right can go really wrong when they're considering a different axis of difference and how that -- i mean, that moment. and then the things that people -- african-american suffragists and abolitionists who i think is really amazing in francis harper who would say, look, we were not -- that is not the way we necessarily have to go. we can go in different directions, or we can be -- we can say, look, this is where we need to have the 15th amendment now, and then we'll try to address women's suffrage. you know, so these kinds of understanding where you stand will give you a different perspective and that people need
to listen to one another is completely kind of evident in the worst way in that period. >> you know, i think it just goes back to the fact that these women have never been 40 quality. is not a huge leap for them to show their -- when they realized this was going to be a moment when women would not get the vote. and it comes out. but all women but not all white women but might wealthier middle-class women are better than poor white women and we are better than immigrant women coming from europe and certainly better than black
women. it all comes out. than the alliance. b you mentioned francis harper. you had written about the work that she and others had done back then for equal treatment and public accommodations. is there anything else you want to add about francis harper's life? >> put francis harper in a category of hundreds of women and that she is an african- american woman she was accustomed to and set up with the humiliation that came with
black women put in the second class cars and not allowed to ride in the first-class cars. not only in the north but also the south were dragged off of streetcars. just been working on a story about women in 1867. it is important to think about, this is 1867. two years after freedom. also a year after the civil rights act of 1966. they should've had full access for public accommodations, whether skating ranks in the north or theaters in the south.
they are still being dragged out. to make decisions about what will go into the constitutions that are rewritten. we want land and redistribution. no more leading to enslavement. every one of these constitutions . it is about public accommodation. they are written into the constitution. there be no distinction.
>> i will put another figure out. ida wells fought for equal treatment in public accommodations. there's anything you would like to add about that work? >> that they did in the question of public accommodation. a young woman named francis rawlins who had been in the north being educated, her parents were in south carolina. they were in the brown society, belonging to a very elite group . her father supplied the confederate army. she was nervous right. she became involved in a steamship case where she was denied her passage. became involved with him and she wanted to see the changes take place. he was encouraging to --.
she became enamored and wrote the biography. actually published it under the name of frank rollins. for about a century, people didn't realize she was the first african-american woman historian. she is someone who began because it comes out of protest. i have my freedom and my rights. we talked about the women seeing the lawsuit in the past. during the reconstruction period, this is when so many women of color went to try and seize their right. we all know the story of so many of these women. we are trying to get their stories out. it is so important to imagine they are lying there waiting for us. the recovery of frank cronin to francis rollin into the rawlins sisters of south carolina. there really getting out the vote for the reconstruction era. it is an important story.
we often talk about the notion of the failures of reconstruction. i am really enamored. recently at a talk where i heard stacey abrams talk about the lack of language. what is a failure when you have people coming to the poor. people demanding their rights and organizing and creating a community which did happen. strike from the north on the streetcars. it mobilized people. just because the government refused to enforce the law does not mean a waste of failure. is the women who came to this --. you have a character you want to share with us. >> we could move to q&a. >> i would love to talk about her.
>> ida wells, before she became famous, protested and discrimination. she did it more than once.'s filed lawsuits against the company. my case i did a lot of research on a woman named catherine or kate brown. who worked in the senate building as attendant at the ladies washroom. imagine that, and the united states, they were women spectators that would watch the proceedings of the senate. she is the woman that would hand out a towel. they were willing to stand up for her at a certain point. she protested being kicked off the train that ran between washington and alexandria. she had written the ladies car from washington to alexandria because washington dc had
antidiscrimination laws on the books. she bought a ticket on the car and brought it to alexandria. when she got on to the home, they didn't have the same on the other side of the river. security guard came and another white man help out. they physically threw her off the car to the point that she was severely injured. she held on and said i have a right to be on this, i bought a ticket. >> part of what is interesting and why we know the story is when she got back to washington, she told the people that she knew in the u.s. senate what had happened to her. they came to her house and took testimony. the document containing her testimony of what happened to her is in the congressional --. it is a published document of congress. i was working on my dissertation and thought i am
following this case. i wonder if i can ever find out more about her. that i find this thing that appears to be more like the verbatim, someone said what happened? then someone said what happened next? it is like much more information than you often get. an african-american woman telling the story. she wrote legislation for congress to pass. she drafted legislation and won a suit against the company. when we say there is equality, the railroad companies try to say we provide accommodations. they are separate but he can't literally in 1868. at this point, the supreme court, acting as a court of appeals, that is not the intention.
that is not keeping with intention of the law. c there's a tiny little footnote as an example of a precedent in which the court said separate but equal is not the intention of the antidiscrimination law. that is kate brown. one of the things that always frustrated me, there is no photo of her that i have ever found. situations like museum exhibits or other places where we want to be able to talk about her and so many other women, it is so hard to figure out. in places where people want illustrations. what did this person look like? i want to imagine them. if there is not a photo or image, it makes it more difficult. stack i would like to get to audience questions before we close.
>> address, did many of the women involved with underground railroad later have an active and often as spies. >> women that were conduct tours? >> i think it means women that were involved in the railroad or maybe in the abolitionist movement? >> if we're talking about women that were involved as conductors, i don't think we really know how many of them came back. anything like taylor writing about the fact that african- american women, they were invisible. they often gathered information. >> that she was asking about women that had been conductors of the railroad.
>> women that had been conductors, it is a movement that is overwhelmingly portrayed as male conductors. the most famous conductor is drastic. she did although she was given the orders by the war department. many years later had such a difficulty claiming pension. if you were a spy often didn't keep good records. she also had the testimony of many generals. congressman from the south who were posttesting again and again. it was a network of sympathetic send indeed as you mentioned, a point about the south. the african-american women were conducting intelligence during that period.
we don't have evidence of women conducting slaves coming back during the war. in her case, she lands in a place where women have a long history of being spies and revolutionaries. i don't know of other women who ran away were conducted and then came back. we just haven't found them. >> a related question, are there any that follows male soldiers. >> one of my favorites is a controversial figure. she was born in cuba. raised in new orleans.'s makes
the mistake of falling in love with a young key. someone who is an anglo soldier. she married him and had three children. on the eve of the war, he died. left a widow with two children. she took up a uniform, went to war as lieutenant buford. in recent work, there is some suggestion that during incarceration, she may have traded information to the union. she wrote an autobiography. if i read it, we wouldn't get any more questions. it is a paragraph title. >> it is what she put forward. she put if i was a man, only a
man. >> we have verification of women that did that and a wonderful book called they fought like demons. it does give documented cases of women. and he came back for pensions. the records tell us about them. it is quite clear that they were women at every level. there were lieutenants and the corp. will that used to be close to his attendant that gave birth to a baby. there are many cases like this. it is interesting to see that some women were a comforting sweethearts and some accompanying brothers. summer going independently. later writing about her exploits. they are very emblematic. they
take us to the present. will be seabees issues. >> there was the notion that they being feminine could not see the elephant and go into combat. even though the generals would say no women in camp, all should be removed. we do have more evidence. i will say the other battle is among the reenactors, how they accept or fail to accept the women who did donnie uniform and many performed bravely. >> i want to ask a quick closing question. i will start with you. i the many stories we have mentioned that are really important to at least mention by name?
neck i can't think of one story that i could privilege more than others. i can think of many women who fought during the war. women who fought for the wrong thing and the right thing. women that did nothing for just one of their husbands to come home. i am interested less even though i have written about women like rose, black women in south carolina. who led her son and other men in battle against confederate scouts. then came the subject of much
gossip in south carolina. eventually, it was decided that she had to be treated as a combatant. so the confederate scouts, after the army, they hanker and left her on the field of battle. that killed her son and many other men that she led. we had those stories. i want to put out before i, a -- of women from the bottom but a collective story so that when they think about poor white women, there is no one to think about. i want to think about what it was like for women who had never had much of any thing.
the work comes in there on the confederate side. they are not privileged. they have to scrounge. they rye it. what is interesting, when the war and, the confederate men come back into power temporarily. they would not be tried for the crimes. i am interested in them and how they make it through. i am interested in how they -- white women that are rich. how detailed the story of black women and poor white women forming alliances because they are both in opposition to
plantation mistresses. when we get to the reconstruction period, i am interested in telling a story of black women though who they couldn't vote, they weren't feeding churches and galleries and who were saying to black men and white republicans that were elected if you don't do this, you'll be in trouble, you have to come home at night. they were pushing them to adopt the most radical proposals. this is the collective story with different races and classes that we have to tell >> light is important? >> the question makes me think
about a time i was teaching u.s. history and there was a student who had this and i cannot member exactly what we were talking about. there was an epiphany assay, when you look at women's history , almost by default, you can't be talking about legislators, politicians or judges. most of the people who got most of the attention and history are not women, ever. a lot of times if you are talking about women in history you talk about things like your everyday life. a household. relations and families. how people take care of children. how they balance aspirations in the public world with their aspirations in their private life. these are the things that history directs us to.
this makes me think that every minute, we are living in history. it is like yes. if that is what studying the history of women in particular can direct our attention to, this notion that all of the things that we do have a history. all of the kinds of relationships that we have and opportunities that we have and don't have. these are all grounded in history. there is something about looking at women at whatever period of time that makes it take us into a different terrain of history that is really important and almost like what is most important in everybody's life. >> why it is important for everyone to learn the stories? >> know i am very empathetic to the collective projects, i welcome people to it. i became derailed into
biographies. >> i became deranged and derailed into biography. i welcome the collective project. i feel also, the kind of biographies that are being done, particularly by women scholars, often frame it in a larger portrait. i do see that as important. through looking at someone like harriet tubman and her disabilities and mary lincoln and the way she was framed as a woman of madness, led me into my current project which as you know, i discovered there were white men fighting in the civil war. that was a great revelation. i am working on madness and union soldiers. i'm also working on the way in which these questions, how amazing is it that we are in
the 21st-century and american soldiers have gone through so many wars. i live in san antonio, the military city. it occurs in everyday life. you look around and you see that the civil war is not a bad relic of the past, nor is reconstruction. as we approach the centennial, we have to think about ways in which we can reconstruct the past, make it accessible. that is why we are all storytellers and especially welcome places like the constitution center where they put on display these wonderful images and scraps. we all want photos. we do have, bringing to life through words and images and conjuring. that new approach to history is one that we all welcome. tell the story but get the word out in the voices out. thank you for giving the opportunity.
>> i love your biographies in particular. i wasn't trying to say we shouldn't have those. when we do tell women stories, we -- and biographies. men can represent the whole world but women have to represent a household. or representing the whole world. i welcome you to check out the exhibit and see the stories and action. thank you for coming.
all week we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span3. lectures and history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral history, the presidency and special event coverage on the nations history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend. thursday night on american history tv, the anniversary of the woodstock music festival. c-span's washington journal of back up in 1969 woodstock music and art fair, a three-day rock concert that attracted nearly half 1 million people to a dairy farm in upstate new york. historian joined us to talk about the social movements of the 60s leading up to the
event. we also talked to the festival cocreator. director and senior curator of the center for the arts museum who described how the concert ended up in bethel, 60 miles from the town of woodstock. that is thursday night starting at 8 pm on american history tv on c-span3. there watch the 2020 coverage of the democratic presidential candidates at the new hampshire party convention. live coverage is saturday at 9 pm eastern on c-span, online at www.c-span.org or listen with the free app . the theme for the 2019 national history day competition was triumph and tragedy. over 500,000 students took part with 3000 advancing to the finals held in june at