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Civil War Lecture: Silk and Rifles
October 14, 2017 @ 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Silk and Rifles: A Gender Analysis of Blockade Runner Cargos
Presented by Guest Lecturer Emily Schwalbe, Archaeologist, Clemson University-Warren Lasch Conservation Center
When Abraham Lincoln instituted a naval blockade against southern ports in 1862, the purpose was to deprive the Confederacy of military supplies. It had the unintended effect, however, of preventing upper class women from purchasing imported goods that solidified their status in Confederate society. Faced with the decision of importing silk or rifles through the blockade, blockade runners often chose to transport luxury items for wealthy families rather than necessities for the military. While this decision was criticized as unpatriotic by many, it reflects the hierarchical ideology that defined the antebellum and Civil War south.