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General Knowledge
of Plantation Mistresses
in the South

Women in the Civil War era were little more than slaves themselves. Even in the most deluxe of plantations, the mistress of the house was expected to run the household, make clothes, darn socks, make soap, make butter and cream, plan and fix meals, educate children, and keep the valuables locked from the household help.

Despite modern concepts of airhead Southern belles sitting in the shade sipping mint juleps while house slaves wait on her hand and foot is the pintacle of Southern gentility, it is not very accurate. It is true that young debutantes from genteel homes may not have done much in the family, once they were wed they were expected to transition seemlessly to matron of the house. More often than not, she soon found herself totally alienated from the husband who so short a while ago wooed her with flowers and long strolls in the park. She finds herself kept a virtual prisoner in her home; white women from well-to-do families were not allowed away from the grounds unless accompanied by a white man, and her husband would rarely be home. In short, she would find herself trapped; she would find herself tricked.