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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The rapid transformations brought on by the US Civil War and its aftermath touched women’s lives in contradictory ways. The disruption caused by war and the destruction of slavery opened up space, and at times created the necessity, for radically new roles for women that challenged antebellum gender norms and racial and class hierarchies. This essay examines the wartime and postwar experiences primarily of black and white but also Native American women. In this period, many women faced new circumstances that inspired them to confront power in novel ways—by, for instance, fleeing slavery, petitioning governors, organizing bread riots, participating in political parades, or protesting segregation. The chapter also explores political violence in the postwar period that affected women differently across class, race, and region and that eventually helped to shut down the radical potential of the era.

Keywords: women, gender, Civil War, Reconstruction, slavery, emancipation, Confederacy, African American, Native American, patriarchy

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