United Daughters of the Confederacy

United Daughters of the Confederacy
Official badge, depicting the "Stars and Bars", the first flag of the Confederacy
Abbreviation UDC
Established September 10, 1894 (1894-09-10)
  • Caroline Goodlett
  • Anna Raines
Founded at Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Type 501(c)(3), charitable organization
Headquarters Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Coordinates 37°33′26″N 77°28′26″W / 37.5571518°N 77.4738453°W / 37.5571518; -77.4738453
Membership (2015)
Leader Patricia Bryson
Publication UDC Magazine
Subsidiaries Children of the Confederacy
Website hqudc.org
Formerly called
National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is an American hereditary association of Southern women established in 1894 in Nashville, Tennessee. The stated purposes of the organization includes the commemoration of Confederate soldiers and the funding of the erection of memorials to these men. The organization's treatment of the Confederacy, along with its promotion of the Lost Cause movement, is viewed by historians as advocacy of white supremacy.[1][2][3][4][5] The UDC denies assertions that it promotes white supremacy.[6]

Formation and purpose

The group was founded on September 10, 1894, by Caroline Meriwether Goodlett and Anna Davenport Raines as "the National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy". The first chapter was formed in Nashville.[7] The name was soon changed to "United Daughters of the Confederacy".[2] Their stated intention was to "tell of the glorious fight against the greatest odds a nation ever faced, that their hallowed memory should never die." Their primary activity was to support the construction of Confederate memorials.[8] The UDC mission includes that members support U.S. troops and honor veterans of all U.S. wars.[1]

In 1896, the organization established the Children of the Confederacy to impart similar values to younger generations through a mythical depiction of the Civil War and Confederacy. According to historian Kristina DuRocher, "Like the KKK's children's groups, the UDC utilized the Children of the Confederacy to impart to the rising generations their own white-supremacist vision of the future."[9]

The communications studies scholar W. Stuart Towns notes UDC's role "in demanding textbooks for public schools that told the story of the war and the Confederacy from a definite southern point of view". He adds that their work is one of the "essential elements [of] perpetuating Confederate mythology".[10]

The UDC was incorporated on July 18, 1919. Its headquarters is located in the Memorial Building to the Women of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.[11][12]


Early work

Across the Southern United States, associations were founded after the Civil War, chiefly by women, to organize burials of Confederate soldiers, establish and care for permanent cemeteries, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor impressive monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate cause and tradition.[13]

The organization was "strikingly successful at raising money to build monuments, lobbying legislatures and Congress for the reburial of Confederate dead, and working to shape the content of history textbooks."[14] They also raised money to care for the widows and children of the Confederate dead. Most of these memorial associations gradually merged into the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which grew from 17,000 total members in 1900 to nearly 100,000 by World War I.[15]

Monuments and memorials

The UDC was influential primarily in the early twentieth century across the South, where its main role was to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the Civil War. Memory and memorials became the central focus of the organization.[16][17]

Historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall argues that the UDC was a powerful promoter of women's history:

DC leaders were determined to assert women's cultural authority over virtually every representation of the region's past. This they did by lobbying for state archives and museums, national historic sites, and historic highways; compiling genealogies; interviewing former soldiers; writing history textbooks; and erecting monuments, which now moved triumphantly from cemeteries into town centers. More than half a century before women's history and public history emerged as fields of inquiry and action, the UDC, with other women's associations, strove to etch women's accomplishments into the historical record and to take history to the people, from the nursery and the fireside to the schoolhouse and the public square.[18]

"The number of women's clubs devoted to filiopietism and history was staggering," says historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage. He notes two typical club women in Texas and Mississippi, who between them belonged to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Daughters of the Pilgrims, Daughters of the War of 1812, Daughters of Colonial Governors, and Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, Order of the First Families of Virginia, and the Colonial Dames of America, as well as a few other historically oriented societies. Comparable men, on the other hand, were much less interested in historical organizations, and devoted their energies to secret fraternal societies, while they emphasized athletic, political and financial exploits. Brundage notes that after women's suffrage came in 1920, the historical role of the women's organizations eroded.[19] After 1900 the UDC became an umbrella organization coordinating local memorial groups.[20] The UDC women specialized in sponsoring local memorials. After 1945, they were active in placing historical markers along Southern highways.[21] The UDC has also been active in national causes during wartime. According to the organization, during World War I, it funded 70 hospital beds at the American Military Hospital on the Western front and contributed over US$82,000 for French and Belgian war orphans. The homefront campaign raised $24 million for war bonds and savings stamps. Members also donated $800,000 to the Red Cross. During World War II, they gave financial aid to student nurses. The UDC donated $50,000 for the construction of a Confederate memorial hall on the campus of Vanderbilt University in 1935.[22][23] By August 2016, the university returned $1.2 million to the UDC after the board of trust, backed by anonymous donors, agreed to remove the word "Confederate" from the building.[22][23]


The UDC encouraged women to publish their experiences in the war, beginning with biographies of major southern figures, such as Varina Davis's of her husband Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. Later, women began adding more of their own experiences to the "public discourse about the war", in the form of memoirs, such as those published in the early 1900s by Sara Pryor, Virginia Clopton, Louise Wright and others. They also recommended structures for the memoirs. By the turn of the twentieth century, a dozen memoirs by southern women were published. These memoirs were part of the growing public memory about the antebellum years and the Lost Cause narrative, which critics have described as white supremacist, as they vigorously defended the Confederacy and its founding principles (which included the enslavement of African-Americans).[24][25]

Southern Cross of Honor

The Southern Cross of Honor was a postbellum honor presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to members of the United Confederate Veterans

The first Cross was bestowed on April 26, 1900.[26] The UDC kept records of the descendants of Confederate soldiers and sailors who served in the U S Armed Forces during World War I.  In 1919, it was decided that a medal be created to honor them.  The first World War I Crosses of Military Service were awarded on November 22, 1923, with the first being placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. T[27] he Crosses of Military Service Awards has been expanded over the years to include the Spanish-American War (1930), the Philippine Insurrection Cross of Military Service (1930), the World War II Cross of Military Service, the Korean War Cross of Military Service (1952), the Vietnam Conflict Cross of Military Service (1966), and the Global War on Terror Cross of Military Service (2005).[28][29]

The Southern Cross of Honor and the Cross of Military Service are the highest honors the UDC bestows. "The UDC is the only patriotic organization in America that bestows such an award." [30] Each Cross is presented to the recipient with the following words:  "Fortes creantur fortibus – the brave beget the brave."[29]

Notable Members

Lost Cause and Neo-Confederate views

During the period 1880–1910, the UDC was one of many groups that celebrated Lost Cause mythology and presented "a romanticized view of the slavery era" in the United States.[3] The UDC promoted white southern solidarity, allowing white southerners to refer to a mythical past in order to legitimize racial segregation and white supremacy.[33] Historian James M. McPherson has said that the present-day UDC promotes a white supremacist and neo-Confederate agenda,[34] saying

I think I agree a hundred percent with Ed Sebesta, though, about the motives or the hidden agenda not too deeply hidden I think of such groups as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. They are dedicated to celebrating the Confederacy and rather thinly veiled support for white supremacy. And I think that also is the again not very deeply hidden agenda of the Confederate flag issue in several Southern states.[35]

The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the UDC as part of the Neo-Confederate movement that began in the early 1980s, which the Center states is "a reactionary conservative ideology that has made inroads into the Republican Party from the political right, and overlaps with the views of white nationalists and other more radical extremist groups".[36][37] In an official statement, the UDC addressed the critics of the organization who claim the UDC promotes a "white supremacist" agenda, such as opinions published by Angela Esco Elder and author James M. McPherson. In the official news release the UDC said:

The United Daughters of the Confederacy totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy. And we call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes. We are saddened that some people find anything connected with the Confederacy to be offensive. Our Confederate ancestors were and are Americans.[38]

Children of the Confederacy

The Children of the Confederacy, also known as the CofC, is an auxiliary organization to the UDC. The official name is Children of the Confederacy of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It comprises children from birth through the time of the Children of the Confederacy Annual General Convention following their 18th birthday. All Children of the Confederacy chapters are sponsored by UDC chapters.[39][40]

See also


  1. 1 2 Cynthia Mills; Pamela Hemenway Simpson (2003). Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-1-57233-272-0.
  2. 1 2 Elder, Angela Esco (2010). "United Daughters of the Confederacy". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  3. 1 2 Murrin, John M.; Johnson, Paul E.; McPherson, James M.; Fahs, Alice; Gerstle, Gary (2014). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People. concise 6th ed.: Cengage Learning. p. 425. ISBN 1-285-54597-4. They refused to let go of the legacy of the defeated plantation South. They celebrated the Lost Cause by organizing fraternal and sororal organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), whose members decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers, funded public statutes of Confederate heroes, and preserved a romanticized vision of the slavery era.
  4. "White women helped build the Confederate statues sparking conflict across the South". mic.com. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  5. Cox, Karen. "White supremacy is the whole point of Confederate statues". Washington Post.
  6. Kutner, Max. "As Confederate Statues Fall, The Group Behind Most of Them Stays Quiet". newsweek.com. Newsweek. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  7. Simpson, John A. (2003). Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends: Guardians of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-57233-211-9. OCLC 428118511.
  8. Muller, Matthew G.; McLellan, Corey W.; Irons, Charles F. (1996). "Shades of Gray: United Daughters of the Confederacy". Charlottesville: University of Virginia. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  9. DuRocher 2011, p. 88-89.
  10. W. Stuart Towns: Enduring Legacy: Rhetoric and Ritual of the Lost Cause
  11. UDC Handbook & March 2013, pp. 3-5.
  12. Minutes 2014, p. 12.
  13. Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson, eds., Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (2003)
  14. Faust 2008, pp. 237–247.
  15. Blight 2001, pp. 272–273.
  16. Cynthia Mills, and Pamela Hemenway Simpson, eds. Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (U. of Tennessee Press, 2003)
  17. Megan B. Boccardi, "Remembering in Black and White: Missouri Women's Memorial Work, 1860-1910" (PhD. Dissertation, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2011, online Archived July 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine..
  18. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, "'You must remember this': Autobiography as social critique." Journal of American History (1998): 439-465 at p 450. in JSTOR Archived July 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, "White Women and the Politics of Historical Memory in the New South, 1880-1920." in Jane Dailey, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, & Bryant Simon, eds., Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (Princeton UP, 2000) pp. 115-39. esp. 119, 123, 131
  20. Janney, 2012
  21. H. E. Gulley, "Women and the Lost Cause: Preserving A Confederate Identity in the American Deep South." Journal of Historical Geography (1993) 19#2 pp 125-141
  22. 1 2 Tamburin, Adam (August 15, 2016). "Vanderbilt to remove 'Confederate' from building name". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 15, 2016. Anonymous donors recently gave the university the $1.2 million needed for that purpose; the Vanderbilt Board of Trust authorized the move this summer.
  23. 1 2 Koren, Marina (August 15, 2016). "The College Dorm and the Confederacy". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 15, 2016. Vanderbilt will return $1.2 million to the Tennessee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the present value of the $50,000 the group donated to the school in 1933 for the construction of the dorm. [...] The $1.2 million payment will come from anonymous donors who gave specifically for the removal of the inscription, the school said.
  24. David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. p. 259. ISBN 0-674-00332-2.
  25. Gardner 2006, pp. 128–130.
  26. Lawton, Ruth Jennings (1956). The History of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Volume I and II: 1894–1955. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Company. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4179-0295-8.
  27. Lawton, 1956, pp. 218, 328.
  28. Lawton, 1956, pp. 327-328.
  29. 1 2 UDC Ritual Book – Eighth Edition. 2013. pp. 18–20.
  30. Lawton, 1956, pp. 327.
  31. Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A (1928). Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America. Retrieved 8 August 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  32. Simpson, John A. "Edith Drake Pope". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society and the University of Tennessee Press. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  33. Janney, 2012, pp. 12–13, 139
  34. Angela Esco Elder, "United Daughters of the Confederacy" in New Georgia Encyclopedia (Georgia Humanities Council/University of Georgia Press: original entry July 23, 2010; last updated October 12, 2016).
  35. Goodman, Amy (November 3, 1999). "Democracy Now – interview with James McPherson, Ed Sebesta". Pacifica Radio Network.
  36. "THE NEO-CONFEDERATES". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  37. Hague, Euan (January 25, 2010). "The Neo-confederate Movement". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  38. Bryson, Patricia M. "Statement from the President General 08-21-2017". United Daughters of the Confederacy. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  39. Raleigh 1956, pp. 181-189.
  40. UDC Handbook & March 2013, p. 5.


  • Blight, David (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 
  • Cox, Karen L. Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida, 2003)
  • Faust, Drew (2008). This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 
  • Gardner, Sarah (2006). Blood And Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861–1937. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. 
  • Gulley, H. E. "Women and the Lost Cause: Preserving A Confederate Identity in the American Deep South." Journal of Historical Geography (1993) 19#2 pp. 125–141.
  • Janney, Caroline E. Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause (Univ of North Carolina Press, 2012)
  • Mills, Cynthia and Pamela H. Simpson, eds. Monuments To The Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (2003)
  • Minutes of the Fifty-first Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Incorporated, Held at Nashville, Tennessee, November 21-24, 1944. 
  • Minutes of the One Hundred and Twenty-first Annual General Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Incorporated, Held in Richmond, Virginia, November 6-10, 2014. 
  • Rutherford, Mildred Lewis (1916). What the South May Claim. Athens, Georgia: M'Gregor Co. 
  • The History of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Volume I and II: 1894–1955. Raleigh, N.C.: United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1956. LCCN 94135238. OCLC 1386401 via Edwards & Broughton Company. 
  • UDC Handbook (6th ed.). Richmond, Virginia: United Daughters of the Confederacy. March 2013. 

Further reading

  • Codieck, Barrett. "Keepers of history, shapers of memory: The Florida division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1895-1930" (MA Thesis, Florida State University, 2012).
  • Foster, Gaines M. (1987). Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Parrott, Angie (1991). "'Love Makes Memory Eternal': The United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, 1897–1920," in Edward Ayers and John C. Willis, eds. The Edge of the South: Life in Nineteenth-Century Virginia, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
  • Poppenheim, Mary B. (1956). The History of the United daughters of the Confederacy. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton Co. OCLC 1572673. 
  • Simpson, Pamela and Cynthia Mills, eds. Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (U of Tennessee Press, 2003).
  • The History of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Volume III: 1956–1986. Raleigh, N.C.: United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1988 via Edwards & Broughton Company. 
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