|Date(s):||June 30, 1860|
|Course:||“Rise and Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
Elizabeth C. Blaetterman was born and raised on a farm in Virginia during the early 1800s. Raised on a large farm with relatives and close friends near by, Elizabeth became dear friends with a young girl named Victoria. Upon Elizabeth's move to Maysville, Kentucky, in hopes of a more prosperous life for her family, Victoria and Elizabeth agreed they would write to one another and stay in touch over the years. Victoria and Elizabeth had been raised with similar influences and therefore shared views on how their children should be raised. Proper manners, religion, and an English education were a must. As Elizabeth's children grew older, she had to take on the role of a teacher, and she strove to provide her children all the important amenities of a thorough English education. During the 1860s, when Elizabeth's eldest child was seven, the proper age to begin learning, she felt obligated to respond to the previously received letter from her dear Victoria, informing her of her lesion plans and the current "mania for teaching" they were experiencing in Kentucky.
In the 1860s Families were advertising the importance of sending children South for their "board" and/or education. Elizabeth reminded Victoria, in her June 30, 1860 letter, "that in the South our children could learn all the branches of a thorough English education." In the eyes of Elizabeth and her fellow neighbors pushing this "mania for teaching," an English education consisted of lessons in Greek, Latin, mathematics, French, German, music, singing, and painting. Elizabeth loved to teach and was anxious to begin teaching her two youngest children; one was not quite six and the other was two years old. Elizabeth, however, did not like to begin teaching children until they were at least seven, so she must wait a few more years still.
Nineteenth-century American society responded to the uncertainties of change through the idiom of gender. In the early 1800s American found reassurance in widely shared perceptions of manhood and womanhood. According to historian Jeanne Boydston, "in the tenets of manhood were the promises of an orderly political life, and economic stability, and of the material welfare of the family. The perceptions of womanhood, on the other hand, promised private morality and sentiment and the coherent transmission of culture from parent to child." This "republican" system of polarities was a comforting way of conceiving secular society. As the principals of republicanism rose in importance, American society increasingly came to support the idea that women needed to understand clearly and embrace these values because they were responsible for passing them on to their children. Women were fully responsible for teaching children but values and academic subjects that were not learned from helping their fathers around the farm.