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A tag accompanying this cape says it was made by a "Poor White woman of the South whose husband was hung for being a Union man during the War of the Rebellion." The reasons are unknown as to why this southerner was a "Union man," but supporters for and against slavery and the preservation of the Union lived on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. There were pro-Union elements in every state of the south, but most notably in Virginia and Tennessee. These were mostly small farmers who did not own slaves and had nothing to gain by war. As seen in this story the repercussions of pro-Union sentiments were sometimes violent. Throughout the 19th century, middling and poor single or widowed women struggled to make ends meet. The South was a largely agricultural society, and the most abundant work opportunities were in the field, but it was considered degrading for white women to be working alongside former slaves. A more respectable alternative was domestic service, followed by work in the "sewing trades," the two most popular occupations among women at the end of the Civil War.
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