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Nashville No. 1, United Daughters of the Confederacy

United Daughters of the Confederacy meeting of the Nashville chapter in 1938.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) was founded in Nashville on September 10, 1894, and Nashville No. 1 became the first chapter to apply for membership, thus earning the coveted designation of the "mother chapter." The local unit was an outgrowth of the powerful Ladies' Hermitage Association, which was dedicated to the preservation of Andrew Jackson's property. In 1894 Caroline Meriwether Goodlett announced a meeting in Nashville of all interested southern white women's societies that were similarly dedicated to "social, literary, historical, monumental, and benevolent activities with a Confederate agenda." (1) Those who proved lineal descent from a Confederate soldier or civil servant were welcome in the UDC.

Goodlett was elected to head both the UDC and Nashville No. 1; she also created the chapter's logo, "The Women Who Never Surrendered." Other officers of the "mother chapter" included Mrs. S. F. Wilson, vice-president; Mrs. Kate Litton Hickman, secretary; and Mrs. John C. Aust, treasurer. Like the officers, many charter members belonged to Nashville's most elite families. Within five years, the membership roll topped two hundred, and Nashville No. 1 became the largest chapter in the state. The chapter later founded a children's auxiliary to provide instruction about the Confederate heritage.

Nashville No. 1 institutionalized the goals of the UDC at the local level through a wide range of programs. It maintained the Confederate Soldiers' Home at the Hermitage, planned the elaborate Memorial day ceremony at Nashville's Mt. Olivet Cemetery, conducted programs on key Confederate holidays (Lee Day on January 19, Jefferson Davis's birthday on June 3, UDC Founder's Day on September 10, and Sam Davis Day on October 6), participated in local and regional fund-raising campaigns to build monuments to Confederate heroes, partnered with public school administrators to screen history textbooks, and visited classrooms to distribute Confederate memorabilia.

At the height of the association's influence, No. 1 was joined by five "affiliated" UDC chapters in Nashville. During the early twentieth century, No. 1 was arguably the most politically powerful and socially important women's club in Nashville. The "mother chapter" celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary in 1994 and still maintains an active membership.

Suggested Reading

Mary Poppenheim, The History of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (1956).

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010