Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Struggle for the United Daughters of the Confederacy?

Some years back before the radical Neo-Confederate movement took over the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the leadership would issue in the Confederate Veterans bulletins of what the purpose of the SCV was and that a radical path would discredit the SCV. The membership didn't seem to be concerned.

Recently in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, the President General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), had a full page bulletin informing the readers what the purpose of the UDC was and more importantly what it wasn't. What it wasn't was involvement with other groups. The bulletin has a border like those for a certificate. It reminded me of the SCV warnings before they fell to the Neo-Confederates.

The UDC did issue a message in its magazine to the membership similar to this recent message during the 1950s during the struggle over civil rights.

Is the UDC going to be captured by the radical Neo-Confederate movement? I am sure the radical Neo-Confederates would very much like to have it under their control. UDC has various buildings and resources. The very fact that the UDC has to issue this warning is revealing that there is a concern that the UDC might be directed to radical Neo-Confederate avenues.

However, there are reasons a take over might be difficult. The UDC has been continuously operating through out the 20th century. They have a pre-existing membership and leadership. The SCV in contrast nearly disappeared in the 60s and 70s and had a huge expansion in membership during the 80s and 90s. The UDC is a women's organization and the radical Neo-Confederate movements are largely men, with few women. It would be harder to get enough members into the UDC to take it over. The UDC also has been more for upper class and middle class women.

The SCV has organized a women's auxiliary, the Order of the Confederate Rose, I have wondered what the need for this group is, when there is already the UDC. Why the SCV wants to organize women outside the UDC. The question arises if it is a vehicle to organize women to take over the UDC.

Another weakness of the UDC, is its aging membership. Now it may not be such a weakness. Often genealogical interests and historical interests start when people reach middle age and think about eternity. An organization will have an older membership, but it being continuously replenished by new middle aged members and not facing a decline. But if the UDC really doesn't have a problem with aging membership, the next generation to inherit it might be a smaller group of radical Neo-Confederate women.

Finally, there have been discreet promotions of Neo-Confederacy in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine of radical Neo-Confederacy by Clara Erath in her column "Confederate Notes."

The UDC organizational struggles are kept out of public view and so it is hard to know what is happening in it. It could well be that the UDC is in no danger of take over, and it is just taking a precautionary measure against a few stray elements. I think that either nothing will happen or one day there will be a take over and we will find out after the fact. Or at a convention there could be a full scale squabble and news coverage if the police are called. Police have been called to a UDC local convention before. We will have to watch and wait.

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