One woman’s point of view.
In this blog post I’ve written a letter from one of my support characters in my CounterClockwise series, Nora Wells. This letter answers what could be any reader’s question about what it was like to live in the United States in the 1840s. Namely, those living in the 21st Century who are harshly critical of the Southern American and how he/she lived.
Here is Nora’s response:
A letter rom Mrs. Nora Wells
I have pondered on this for quite some time and have reached the conclusion that you in the 21st Century need to hear about what life was like in the United States before the Civil War began.
You may not want to hear this, and honestly if I were you I would not, but it’s something you should hear and must hear if you are ever to consider yourself to be a fair and just individual. And one who is in favor of equal treatment of all citizens.
The first thing I want to address is the issue of slavery in what you call the Antebellum South. The period before the Civil War and the Emanicaption Proclamation.
I am not a Southern born woman, however, I became closely associated with Southerners and in fact lived in the Old South for the last few decades of my life. And that experience touched my heart in so many special ways. Thus, prompting this letter.
Many of you blame the entire population of the Antebellum South for slavery. You do not pehaps consider that we of that time did not begin the practice of slavery on these shores – instead we inherited it. Slavery had been here for centuries before any of us in the 19th century lived. So you need to continue back along the line of history to find the proper pesons to blame.
And, many of you condemn us even if we never owned a slave and indeed never believed it to be right. To answer what have been in many cases terrible accusations, I now ask all of you in the United States of the 21st Century first this question:
“Do you know of unjust treatment of women and children in your country or your world? And what have you done about it? Have you given up your home and your worldly posessions and put your life in jeopardy to go and fight for the rights of said women and children?”
If you answered in the affirmative then you may continue to condemn those of us who lived in the 19th century. However, if you answered in the negative, as the vast majority of you are likely to do, then you have no right whatsoever to point the finger of indignation.
“Furthermore, how many of you know of elderly and disabled persons who may live in your home state or town who do not receive the care they deserve and need? And what pray tell do you personally do about it?”
Once again if you answered that you do personally help an elderly or disabled person to live a happy life then I applaud you for doing so. If not, then once again, you are not in a position to pass judgement.
We in the United States of American of the the 1840s were a people as great as any of you who live today in the 21st century. We had our victories and accomplishments – and I daresay our fair share of inventions.
We had a greater quality of life than you may imagine and had standards that you do not by and large have today, though, and I would like to share some of them with you now:
Women and children could be out and about in our cities and towns without fear at any hour of the day or night. For the greater majority, crimes were things to be read about in newspapers and not something they experienced themselves.
Churches never locked their doors and were instead a place to turn to at any hour to pray for a sick loved one or the return of a soldier who had gone off to war.
Men held the door open for a lady, gave up his seat on a train, and tipped his hat to her as he passed by. None of these things were meant as an overture – instead they were something we called “common courtesy”.
People paid their bills without being asked repeatedly. If you owed an amount to a merchant or a landlord – you paid it promptly.
By and large, people were honest. A handshake was truly as good as a signature.
One needn’t bring any form of paperwork with them as they travelled. If you stated your birthplace it was taken as the truth. No one ever questioned it.
Travellers who were in distress always sought out the nearest house or farm for help. Being awakened during the night to help a person was part of life and all of us thought little about the inconvenience.
Manners included respect of those who were elderly or less fortunate. Those of us who were more affluent always lent a hand to those who were not. Women of means visited the sick and helped large families with gifts of food, clothing and even money. For your knowledge and information, I knew many women who became ill themselves because they tended to a needy family while they were sick. Some of them did not survive.
A man did not court a woman unless he intended to marry her. It would have been a great scandal to do so and would have resulted in him being shunned by families for miles around.
None of us sullied the good name of another without excellent reason. And even then we mostly kept quiet unless it was absolutely necessary to divulge the dishonesty of another human being.
Christianity and Christian-like behaviour was the norm. We abided by it and lived our lives accordingly.
I hope that this letter reaches many of you in the 21st Century who believe that we of the Pre Civil War United States were ignorant and without caring hearts. The truth of it could not be less so.
Start reading my CounterClockwise Paranormal Romance series now!