True Women and Westward Expansion by Adrienne Caughfield

By Adrienne Caughfield

Expansion was once the fever of the early 19th century, and ladies burned with it as without doubt as males, even if differently. Subscribing to the “cult of actual womanhood,” which valued domesticity, piety, and comparable “feminine” virtues, girls championed growth for the reason for civilization, even whereas mostly fending off the masculine international of politics.

Adrienne Caughfield mines the diaries and letters of a few 90 Texas girls to discover the information and enthusiasms they dropped at the Western frontier. even though there have been a couple of remarkable exceptions, such a lot of them drew on their household talents and values to set up not just “civilization,” yet their very own defense. Caughfield sheds gentle on women’s activism (the turn facet of domesticity), attitudes towards race and “civilization,” the tie among a imaginative and prescient of a unified continent and a cultivated desert, and republican values. She deals a brand new realizing of not just gender roles within the West but in addition the impulse for expansionism itself.

In Texas, Caughfield demonstrates, “women by no means stopped arriving with extra gas for the flames [of expansionism] as their households attempted to discover a spot to cool down, a few position with a bit extra space, the place nationwide future and private desires merged right into a wonderful whole.” In doing so, Texas ladies elevated not just American borders, yet their very own as well.

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The proximity of the river    prompted concerns of alligators rising from the water to make “a dainty morsel” of them all. Meanwhile, nearby panthers “were making night hideous with their cries,” threatening danger from the woods beyond. Finally Coleman gave up on sleep and joined her mother and sister in sitting on the riverbank and considering their new circumstances for the rest of the night. 24 For some women, Texas was not just a savage place, but an empty one. ” The land bore few landmarks, whether natural or manmade, and had little aesthetic appeal for eyes accustomed to thick forests and glades or fine wooden houses.

Their appearance startled the women and children, who had no idea what to expect. Fortunately the situation defused rapidly, and both sides departed happy. Mary Rabb did not feel so lucky. Her family had dealt with Indians before. Natives frequently stole the family’s horses, so the group gave up and moved elsewhere. Once settled in a new location, locals visited again. Panicked, Rabb snatched up her children and hid from view. The Indians then entered her house, took assorted goods and food and left.

Still, emigrants sometimes began their stays in good standing with local tribes and worked to keep them in favor. Eliza Moore and Sabrina Townsend remembered decades later that the Tonkawas tended to be particularly friendly toward their families. Moore and her neighbors gave them food that they ate peacefully. But even Townsend knew that not all Indians were alike. ” As peaceful as relations between whites and Tonkawas were for these two women, they recognized the fragility of the situation. 33 Others insisted that there was no reason for concern in the first place.

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