UDC

United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC)


At Left: Mrs. C.M. Goodlet, First President, 1894-95
The UDC, formally organized as a national body in 1894 (with Mrs. C.M. Goodlet, shown here, as the first president), enjoyed its greatest popularity between the years 1913 and 1921. During this period, the organization embarked on a series of massive campaigns to educate the nation about the Confederate cause and to commemorate the struggle in marble and bronze. The group of Southern women, united by the desire "to instruct and instill into the descendents of the people of the South a proper repect for and pride in the glorious war history," sought to memoiralize both the Confederacy's military heroes and the women involved in the Confederate cause. One of the principal methods of memorialization employed by the UDC was monument building. The Daughters hoped that by constructing grand memorials they could "tell of the glorious fight against the greatest odds a nation ever faced, that their hallowed memory should never die." As a part of their nationwide program, the Daughters led the movement to establish a monument at Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Although ground level agitation for a carving on the massive granite monolith at Stone Mountain had begun a few years earlier, Mrs. Helen Plane, charter member of the UDC and head of theAtlanta chapter, made the first substantive step towards the realization of that goal in 1915. In that year, she approached accomplished sculptor GutzonBorglum and solicited his support for a gigantic memorial carving. Borglum reacted enthusiastically to the idea, and he dreamed up an extremely elaborate design, detailed in his ""Handbook of Information about the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial". The UDC convinced the Venablefamily, owners of the mountain, to deed them access to the site in 1916, and Borglum was able to start work on the central group by 1923 (delayed primarily by US involvment in WWI, 1914-1919). Despite Mrs. Plane's desire to put figures of Klu Klux Klan members on the mountain alongside the Confederate heroes , Borglum included only Lee, Jackson, and Davis in the central group. The decision to narrow the group to these three resonated with other contemporary UDC decisions. By 1920, the Richmond UDC had already memorialized Lee, Jackson, and Davis on Richmond's Monument Avenue. The carving initiated by Gutzon Borglum bore the direct stamp of the UDC and was a clear manifestation of their single-minded goal to preserve and glorify the Confederate tradtion.

Almost immediately, the UDC experienced a decline in influence. Even before construction began, during WWI, economic pressures compelled the UDC to hand over control of the project to the newly formed Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Despite this shift in control, however, the UDC left an indelible mark on Stone Mountain by clearly defining the project's goals. Their initial conception of the carving as a memorial to specific Confederate heroes and to the Confederate cause in general became incarnate in the panoramic Borglum plan, and their increasing institutional desire to memorialize the women of the Confederacy as well expressed itself in Lukeman's Memorial Hall, dedicated to the Southland's women. The UDC dominated the carving ideologically from the beginning stages through the 1950s, when economic considerations led to the dilution of the Confederate focus.




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