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"The Grown–up Daughter": The Case of North Carolina's Cornelia Phillips Spencer

Wright, Annette C. (1997). "The grown-up daughter": The case of North Carolina's Cornelia Phillips Spencer. The North Carolina Historical Review, 74(3), 260-283.

Early one cold winter morning in January 1891, Cornelia Phillips Spencer, a sixty-five-year-old widow, wrapped herself in a large fur rug and joined friends for a buggy ride to the funeral of Paul C. Cameron, a leading North Carolina planter and politician. At the Cameron home in Hillsborough, the family greeted her on the steps and ushered her into the parlor, where the body lay surrounded by flowers and family portrait. In a letter to her daughter, Spencer wrote that despite "the unnatural pallor of death," Cameron, "the last of our great slaveholders," still possessed an air of "majesty." Beginning to cry, she stooped over him and kissed his forehead, a gesture that symbolized their close and affectionate friendship.1

Describing the funeral to her daughter, Cornelia Spencer emphasized that the honor of escorting Cameron's body to the church was given not to his political associates but to a detail of eight of his former slaves, who were attired in white and black weepers. Inside the church, African Americans sat among the honorary white pallbearers, with "no distinction of seat made." Elderly African American women also sat among the whites, leading Spencer to comment that "death is the great leveller." Such race mixing did not trouble Cornelia Phillips Spencer; on the contrary, she was proud of it, calling it "the true grand old Southern style" and arguing that New Englanders did not want to believe that former slaves would come to a funeral "to express once more their attachment to 'Old Master.'" Later, she published an account of the funeral in a local newspaper, one that romanticized Cameron by quoting his own characterization of his years as a master:

I had nineteen hundred of them in my hands and I never was ashamed to 1ook one of them in the face after they were freed. I fed them, clothed them, lodged them well and treated them in all things well as far as I could know.

Cornelia Spencer's idealized picture of southern race relations was written in 1891, at a time when an intense and violent racial and political crisis was taking place in the

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region, but she had no interest in current affairs, preferring to turn to the past and to paint a picture of kindly southern paternalism.2

Cornelia Spencer's endorsement of nineteenth century white supremacy will not surprise many of the historians studying southern women of that era.3 Even though the region's educated women such as Spencer had seen the disintegration of southern antebellum society, the disappearance of slavery, and ensuing years of poverty during Reconstruction, they did not reject the old order. The war and postwar years did bring a widened sphere of activities and influence for southern ladies, but many, like Spencer, used that new access to public life to defend the existing order. As historian George C. RabIe explains: "By absorbing and reinforcing traditional definitions of male and female honor, many elite women helped their families, communities, and the South itself survive without abandoning the past." In her examination of southern women during the Civil War, historian Drew Gilpin Faust concludes that elite southern women possessed a "staunch commitment to many of the fundamental values and assumptions of their prewar world," a commitment that "ultimately enabled them to contain much of the change war seemed destined to inaugurate."4

The experience of Cornelia Phillips Spencer (1825-1908) not only reinforces the conclusions of RabIe and others but also offers an example of the power and pervasiveness of nineteenth-century southern cultural conservatism. Cornelia Spencer was a southern woman uniquely positioned to critique the region's societal norms. The daughter of a university professor and his classically educated wife, she belonged to the small, select group of truly well-educated southern women. She had read some of the most important texts of the women's rights movement and wrote regularly about contemporary women's issues in her newspaper columns. In addition, she lived most of her life at the margin of the plantation society-not at its core-a position that might have made her more disposed toward dissent. Before the Civil War, her father owned two slaves, a married couple who worked in the Phillips household and remained close

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to the family after emancipation. Spencer did not travel extensively beyond Orange County, but in the years after the war she did make several extended journeys to visit relatives in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. Like a small number of educated southern women who found themselves responsible for supporting their families in the postbellum period, Cornelia Spencer turned to free-lance writing as a means to provide for the needs of her daughter and herself. Although writing did not prove to be financially rewarding for Spencer, her passionate yet carefully crafted newspaper columns and letters to the editor earned her respect from Paul Cameron and other important political leaders. Former North Carolina governor Zebulon B. Vance supposedly remarked that Spencer was the "smartest woman in North Carolina ... and the smartest man too."5

Recognized and respected as a knowledgeable political voice, Cornelia Spencer could have used her pen to influence social change; yet, her writing reveals a woman working to shape and solidify cultural and social conservatism. Her newspaper columns for young women on character and deportment, printed in the North Carolina Presbyterian from 1870 to 1876, lacked a coherent or even nascent feminism. In her political writing, Spencer sided with the state's educational reformers, but her position did not arise from egalitarianism so much as from her support for limited economic development. Remembered best as "the woman who rang the bell" for education, she frequently wrote about North Carolina's need for more public schooling, especially for women; however, the educational advances for women that she advocated were limited. Finally, Spencer became most closely identified with the campaign during Reconstruction to reopen the University of North Carolina under the control of the white supremacists of the state's Democratic Party.

Cornelia Spencer's championship of conservatism is more intriguing because one of her two elder brothers, Samuel Field Phillips, had been labeled as a "scalawag" during Reconstruction for his vociferous resistance to the imposition of white supremacy in North Carolina. But the sister did not take the same path as her brother. Cornelia Spencer's experience as a woman in a patriarchal society did not make her sympathetic to the plight of African Americans. It was her brother, a successful lawyer and politician, who defied the establishment, joined the Radical Republican, and was forced to leave the state when Reconstruction ended. It is the contrast between brother and sister that furnishes another compelling facet to the history of nineteenth-century southern women.

All of her life, Cornelia Ann Phillips Spencer believed that her spiritual anchor was the village where she was raised - Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In her last years, when poor health forced her to live in Massachusetts with her daughter, she found the separation especially painful. Mourning her departure from Chapel Hill, she wrote to her sister-in-law in 1904 that "if spirits ever return to this earth and revisit scenes once dear - mine will hover over Chapel Hill." A year earlier, she remarked that when she thought of the University of North Carolina, "my heart warms - what memories,

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Cornelia Ann Phillips Spencer (1825-1908) was seventy-three years old when this photograph was taken in 1898. The daughter of a university professor, she was well educated and well read in a variety of subjects. Important politicians sought her counsel and respected her opinions. Former governor Zebulon B. Vance once commented that she was the "smartest woman in North Carolina ... and the smartest man too." Photograph courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

what faces long since hidden under the grass, rise up to view once more . And I always end with a prayer for the University."6

Chapel Hill assumed such a portentous role in the emotional life of Cornelia Spencer because she had lived there for over sixty years, had taken an active part in community affairs, and, despite any official tie to the university, had served a its spokesperson in the political community and in newspapers. Denied schooling there herself, Spencer eagerly took up the university's defense for it was the school of her father, her brothers, and her husband.

James Phillips, Cornelia Spencer's father, began teaching at Chapel Hill in 1826. The English-born son of an Anglican minister, he migrated in 1818 from Plymouth, England, to New York City, where he worked as the headmaster of a private boy's school in Harlem. In 1821, he married Julia Vermeule, an educated, elite woman from New

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Jersey. Five years later, he accepted a teaching position in North Carolina to allow himself more time for his mathematical studies. Self-taught in mathematics, he never attended a college.7 During the nineteenth century, Chapel Hill amounted to no more than a small, isolated southern village, dominated by a well-respected university. Even though schooling was a scarce commodity in antebellum North Carolina, the three Phillips children - Charles, Samuel, and Cornelia - received an exceptional education. Their mother tutored them at home; they read freely from the university library; and they borrowed books from the homes of their professor neighbors. In 1837, Charles and Samuel Phillips (ages fifteen and thirteen, respectively) started classes at the university. Julia Phillips established a school for girls that supplemented the family income and provided continuing education for her daughter, Cornelia Ann. Taught from the same books as her brothers, the young girl learned to read French, Latin, and Greek. Her favorite subject was history, and her favorite reading was British literature, especially political essays and biographies, a taste she acquired in her teens and included her favorite book, Boswell's Life of Johnson.8

Professor Phillips occasionally published a treatise on mathematics; but, as the years passed, he turned more and more from academic studies to religion. He became "a decided and earnest" Presbyterian when a northern evangelist, the Reverend Asahel Nettleton, visited Chapel Hill in 1830. After his conversion, Phillips began to organize prayer meetings and read widely in religious literature. Licensed to preach in 1833, he eventually assumed the pulpit at a nearby Presbyterian church. For the next thirty years, he preached to a village congregation every Sunday and led chapel exercises at the university on weekdays.9 Befitting a mathematician, James Phillips delivered sermons

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In 1826, self-taught mathematician James Phillips (1792-1867) accepted a teaching appointment at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he served with distinction on the faculty for the next forty-one years. In addition to his work at the university, he ministered at a local Presbyterian church from the 1830s until his death. Respected in the community as a serious scholar and devout clergyman, James Phillips had a profound influence on the development of his daughter Cornelia's character. Detail from photograph of portrait courtesy of the North Carolina Collection.

that a local newspaper described as "mines of the most precious truth, complete structure [and] close logic." He turned back to the foundation of Presbyterianism to adopt what one observer called "the stiffest Calvinistic Theology." Despite his mathematical bent, when he spoke of the omnipotent Calvinist God, he used what one university colleague described as "the softest, richest, most tremulous pathos." At his death, his friends remembered that the usually "stern" gentleman had been so enamored of preaching, so transported by giving a sermon, that he had a large local following, even among African Americans.10

In the years following the slave revolt led by Nat Turner in 1831, the North Carolina General Assembly passed strict legislation regulating all aspects of black life. The most harsh of the laws proscribed African American preachers from conducting worship services. In response, James Phillips led his congregation in erecting a shed behind their church where blacks could worship with his guidance. After addressing the white worshippers on Sunday morning, Phillips preached to the blacks on Sunday afternoon. In

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a letter to a friend, Cornelia Spencer wrote that her father enjoyed leading the worship services for the African Americans.11

James's oldest son, Charles Phillips (1822-1889), initially chose to study medicine but then entered Princeton Theological Seminary to study theology. When his health declined, he returned to Chapel Hill, where he worked in the university's mathematics department as his father's assistant. After studying at Harvard University in 1853, he again returned to Chapel Hill to teach mathematics. In 1867, Charles Phillips was appointed to his late father's professorship. Except for a brief period when he held a teaching position at Davidson College, Phillips was a respected member of the faculty. Like his father, Charles Phillips fulfilled ministerial duties at a local Presbyterian church throughout most of his adult life. In poor health, he retired from the university in 1879 and died in 1889 at the age of sixty-six following a lengthy battle with rheumatic gout.12

James's second son, Samuel Field Phillips (1824-1903), enjoyed much more vigorous health and a more active public life than Charles and earned a place for himself in southern politics as a true maverick. Following study at the university's law school, Samuel Phillips passed the bar and established a law practice in Chapel Hill in 1845. He began his political career in 1852, when he was elected to the first of two consecutive terms in the General Assembly as a representative for Orange County. A Whig, like his father, brother, and many neighbors in Chapel Hill, Samuel favored compromise during the secession crisis. He came to the support of the Confederacy only after Lincoln ordered a military mobilization in April 1861. When the cause appeared lost in 1864, Phillips and other former Whigs called for a negotiated peace. At that time, he grew impatient with Confederate leaders and demanded an immediate end to the war and a reunion with the North. Elected to the state legislature in 1864, Samuel Phillips went so far as to suggest that North Carolina enter into independent talks with the Union government.13

Samuel Phillips served in the state House of Commons in 1864 and 1865 and was unanimously chosen to be Speaker in the latter year. He also was a leader in the constitutional convention of 1865, a feature of Presidential Reconstruction. But the advent

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of Congressional Reconstruction in March 1867 left Phillips indecisive about hi political allegiance. Although he never joined the state's Conservative (or Democratic) Party, he refrained from joining the Radical Republicans, preferring instead to devote himself to his law practice. Then, in 1868, he became acquainted with state superior court judge Albion W. Tourgée, an outspoken advocate for African American rights and North Carolina's leading Radical Republican "carpetbagger." A close, lifelong friendship soon developed between the two men. Under the tutelage of Tourgée, whom he described as "a man of extensive culture, of extraordinary intellectual gifts, - a just and fearless judge, and a public-spirited citizen, with the courage of his opinions," Samuel Phillips joined the Republican Party in 1870 and began to fight for the civil right of blacks, including unobstructed suffrage. In that same year, Phillip attempted to return to political office when, with Tourgée's backing, he ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general. A year later, he served as chair of the state Republican executive committee and helped prosecute the Ku Klux Klan in federal court. After his foes in the Democratic Party took control of the state, Phillips recognized that his political future was impossible in North Carolina and accepted a position in 1873 as solicitor general in the administration of Pres. Ulysses S. Grant. He held the federal appointment for twelve years, during which time he used his position to argue for African American rights.14 With the return of a Democratic administration in 1885, Republican Samuel Phillips relinquished his federal office and quickly established a flourishing law practice in Washington, D.C.

Several years later, Albion Tourgée, then living in New York state and still a leading publicist for black rights, brought the former solicitor general in as a co-counsel for the black plaintiff in P1essy v. Ferguson, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that upheld the doctrine of separate but equal accommodations for whites and blacks. Phillips played a major role in planning strategy and wrote a brief condemning segregated railway cars as unconstitutional for violating the Fourteenth Amendment. He kept Tourgée informed about the progress of the case before the court and, on occasion, represented his mentor during the proceedings. Tourgée valued his protégé's participation in the case because Phillips was an experienced Washington lawyer who staunchly fought for justice in the treatment of blacks. In his brief, Phillips characterized segregation as "a taunt by law" of African Americans, a "debauch" of the American legal system for "the United States cannot allow the matter of the Color of its citizens to become a ground of legal disparagement ... unless with a disparagement of itself." He asserted that it did not matter that the rail accommodations might be of equal quality for "the White

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Samuel Field Phillips (1824-1903) practiced law in Chapel Hill before being elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1852. A former Whig, he found the polarized politics of the early years of Reconstruction to be distasteful and withdrew from public life. His friendship with Radical Republican Albion W. Tourgée brought him into that party's political activity. Phillip accepted an appointment as solicitor general in the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 and retained the position during the terms of the next three presidents. As a private attorney, he served as co-counsel for the black defendant in the landmark case of Plessy v. Ferguson in the mid-1890. Although Cornelia did not agree with Samuel's view on politics and the treatment of African Americans, she remained close to her brother throughout her life. Photograph from the Cornelia Phillip Spencer Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

man's wooden railway benches, if the case were such, would be preferred to any velvet cushions in the Colored car."15 The Supreme Court ruled against Tourgée and Phillips, but the latter's arguments helped shape the dissent of Justice John Marshall Harlan.16

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Samuel Phillips remained active in the Washington legal community until his retirement in 1901. Later that year, he distinguished himself by publicly supporting Pres. Theodore Roosevelt's invitation to Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington to attend a dinner at the White House. Historian Robert D. Miller summarized the magnitude of Phillips's action: "Having transcended an enormous racial barrier in 1870, Samuel Field Phillips became what all too few white Republicans could honestly claim to be, a firm spokesman for racial equality in America." Samuel Phillips died in 1903.17

Cornelia remained close to her brother Samuel, although she did not accept his support for black civil rights or the Republican Party. Apparently he did try to keep her informed on Republican activities. In an 1874 letter to William Horn Battle, a prominent jurist and a close family friend, Cornelia wrote:

Bro' Sam Phillips keeps me supplied with Republican papers. I feel as if my political principles must be very securely grounded since the Raleigh Sentinel cannot disgust me with Conservatism - & The Nation cannot convert me to Republicanism. I believe they represent the two extremes of excellence in journalism & the reverse.18

Politics aside, the personal relationship of brother and sister was warm and supportive. In the years after the war, Samuel provided his widowed sister with financial assistance. When he decided to leave the state in 1873, it was Cornelia who helped his family pack for the move to Washington. After he settled there, his sister visited him for extended periods.19

In fact, throughout her entire life, Cornelia maintained the close relationship that she had formed with her brother during their early years. By 1850, the Phillips brothers were busy building their careers in Chapel Hill: Charles was teaching at the university, and Samuel was practicing law. Both men were married and lived near their parents. Cornelia, now in her early twenties and still living with her parents, spent much of her time helping her sisters-in-law to care for their growing families. Although Cornelia actively took part in community activities, she remained devoted to her family, and it was assumed that she would be a spinster.20

But then, on April 30, 1853, twenty-eight-year-old Cornelia Phillips became engaged to James "Magnus" Munroe Spencer, a student at the university's law school. They had met two years earlier and quickly discovered a mutual interest in books and reading. Following the engagement, Magnus returned to his native Alabama to establish his law practice. The couple wed in 1855 and moved to Magnus's hometown of Clinton, Alabama.21

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Cornelia's years in Alabama were not happy ones. She found herself, the daughter of a college professor, out of place in what she perceived to be a raw and crude frontier society. She admitted that her cotton planter neighbors lived well, but in other respects, she wrote back home, they "don't live at all." She marveled that they owned "solid silver castors ... fine table linen" and put "china and cut-glass and jelly and turkey and what not on the table"; yet, despite such splendor, they lived in crude log homes without carpets, where Cornelia saw chinking fall onto the floor. She confessed that she had difficulty hiding her "surprise and discomfiture" at such primitive living conditions. Interestingly, in her letters home, she never mentioned any qualms she felt about her neighbors' treatment of their slaves.22 Magnus Spencer became ill with a painful, debilitating spinal ailment in 1856. The Spencers' only child, June, was born three years later. Caring for a baby and her often-bedridden husband, Cornelia had little time to consider the tumultuous events of the secession crisis. On June 24, 1861, Magnus Spencer died of spinal meningitis, and his grief stricken widow prepared to return to Chapel Hill. She wrote to her father that her saddest moments came taking books off the shelves, books that were "eloquent of our happy life together - the entire sympathy and congeniality of our taste."23

In late 1861, the thirty-six-year-old widow and her two-year-old daughter traveled from Alabama to the more "civilized" world of Chapel Hill. Cornelia found, however, that the idyllic life of the antebellum village had vanished. Her first years back in North Carolina were painful ones, years of war, hardship, and grief combined with a growing deafness from a chronic ear infection. She wrote in her journal in May 1862: "My hearing is going, and with it youth, hope and love. There remains for me nothing but to sit at home and remember."24

The war brought death and suffering to Chapel Hill and the university community. Friends and neighbors lost fathers, sons, and brothers in the fighting; and professors learned of the deaths of former students. Cornelia admitted in her diary that the "universal mourning" in the South had made her own loss seen less burdensome because at least her husband had not died "horribly in battle, or lain lingering and mutilated in hospitals.25 Even living in a minister's household gave her little comfort. She wrote in 1862 that she experienced only "coldness and deadness to all that makes the secret life of religion."26 In the summer of 1863 as the toll of Confederate defeat rose, James Phillips and June Spencer survived near fatal illnesses. Cornelia nursed her father and daughter back to health, and the experience of nearly loosing two members of her family

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In 1849, Alabama native James "Magnus" Munroe Spencer entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Two year later, the young law student met Cornelia Phillips, and they soon discovered a mutual interest in books and learning. They were engaged in 1853 and married in 1855. The newlyweds moved to Clinton Ala., where Magnus had established a successful law practice. A year later, he was afflicted with a spinal ailment, and his health began to decline. Magnus Spencer died on June 24, 1861, leaving his thirty-six-year-old widow, Cornelia, and their two-year-old daughter, June. Photograph (1853) from the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Papers, Southern Historical Collection.

gave her the strength to accept finally the death of her husband.27 As the war wound to a close, the threat of invasion seemed very real: Sherman marched into nearby Fayetteville in March of 1865, and Union forces moved into Chapel Hill one month later. A Federal cavalry unit stayed two and one-half weeks in the area and stripped the farms and village of food and possessions. Some of the officers and enlisted men appeared to be civil to Cornelia, but it was, as she described it, a "wretched fortnight."28

After the surrender at Appomattox, bands of Confederate troops marched through Chapel Hill on their way home. Cornelia Spencer helped to feed the soldiers, whom he described as "straggling ... footsore, penniless, despondent." The Confederacy had been defeated, and the region's future was unsure. In May 1865, she wrote in her diary:

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I see before us only humiliation, privation, and a life of continued toil. The southern land is ruined.... I feel the overthrow of the Confederacy as keenly as if I had embarked in the cause of Secession with all my heart at first, which was not so.... The whole of this so lately flushed, defiant, scornful, hopeful South lies prostrate, cowed, submissive.29

She remarked that in Chapel Hill "every man woman and child enlisted for the war," and she too "never left my colors till Lee's flag went down on his last field."30

The years after the war continued to bring emotional hardship to Cornelia Spencer. In March 1866, she counted eighteen dead from disease in the small village since the previous spring. Her mother's health declined in May 1866, yet the elderly woman set out on a long visit to her family in New Jersey. James Phillips died in the college chapel as he was about to begin morning prayers on March 11, 1867. After the funeral, Cornelia traveled north to bring her mother home from New Jersey. They returned in July 1867 to "a sad bitter homecoming." She found "nothing but change and sadness" and refused to go into her father's study for two months.31 By year's end, Cornelia suffered another loss when her brother Samuel moved his family to Raleigh. Samuel Phillips allowed his sister and niece to live in his former residence in Chapel Hill, and he also permitted her to keep the monthly rents paid by the few university student boarders who lived on the second floor of the building. In this house, Cornelia educated her daughter much as her own mother had taught her. She attempted to start a school in the house, but her hearing disability made it difficult for her to supervise children.32 Writing, then, became one of the few ways she could contribute to the support of herself and her child.

Her first writing projects grew out of her close affiliation with a small group of politicians - former Whigs, like her father and brothers, men whose opinions on secession and the Confederacy's conduct of the war required defense after 1865. This attachment to the nationalist sentiments of the Whig Party was deeply rooted in the surrounding county and in the Phillips family. In 1904, reminiscing in a letter, she described the Whig leader Henry Clay as "one of our youthful political idols." She remembered that her brother Charles rode more than forty miles in 1843 to cast his first vote as a Whig.33 Other admirers of Clay included the Phillipes' neighbor, former North Carolina governor David L. Swain, who was the president of the University of North Carolina from 1835 until 1868. Swain and the other Whigs associated with Chapel Hill, who had been lukewarm about secession and the Confederate military effort, found themselves vulnerable to political attack following the end of the Civil War. Swain's problems had multiplied in 1865, when his daughter Eleanor married Smith D.

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Atkins, a Union general she had met while he commanded the Federal troops occupying Chapel Hill.34

Soon after the war's end, these men encouraged Cornelia Spencer to write newspaper columns and letters as their advocate. In voluminous correspondence between these important men and the Chapel Hill widow, political strategy and the volatile issues of the day were discussed and argued. At the suggestion of David L. Swain and Zebulon B. Vance, Cornelia wrote a series of articles for the New York City newspaper the Watchman, in which, under the pretense of attacking General Sherman's campaign in North Carolina, she defended the actions of Vance, the state's Confederate governor. First, she condemned Sherman's destruction in the state as "wholly uncalled for, wholly unnecessary, [an action] ... that lit up the fires of hatred in many a hitherto loyal Southern breast, brutalized and demoralized the whole Federal army, and was in short inexcusable." She then went on to defend Vance's policies as governor during the war as those "marked by devotion to the people ... and by a determination to do his duty to them at all hazards." The articles were later compiled into a book titled The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina, which was published in 1866.35

In the period after the publication of The Last Ninety Days, Cornelia Spencer focused her writing efforts on supporting the University of North Carolina. Enrollment at the university, which had declined greatly during the Civil War, did not recover in peacetime, a few families possessed sufficient resources to pay tuition and the related expenses of a college education. The university's endowment, heavily invested in Confederate bonds and other irredeemable securities, generated a total annual income of $25 in 1866. An outstanding accumulated debt of more than $100,000 further complicated the university's finances. President Swain and the university trustees pursued a number of options for ameliorating the school's financial situation, including the proposed mortgaging of the campus buildings and real estate to refinance the debt and raise additional capital for future expenses. The trustees did successfully apply for funding from the sale of federal lands as stipulated under the Morrill Act; however, questions concerning the administration of the act's provisions delayed the land sale for several years. With the university's future uncertain in 1867, Swain and the members of the faculty submitted their resignations effective before the 1868 fall term. The adoption of the new state constitution in 1868 transferred the right to appoint university trustees from the legislature to the state school board. The 1867 elections brought the Republicans into control of North Carolina

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government, and the Republican state school board replaced the university's board of trustees with Republicans, accepted the resignations of Swain and his faculty, and appointed a new Republican president and faculty for the university. Among the university's faculty members who lost their jobs was Charles Phillips, who accepted a position at Davidson College.36

Angered at what she considered to be a desecration of her family's university, Cornelia Spencer struck out at the Republican regime. In a local newspaper, she attacked the new administration for the poor quality of its students and for a faculty composed of "ex-negro teachers and scalawags" who would turn the campus into a "Quaker's farm." She wrote to one correspondent that the university campus was deteriorating under Republican control and warned that "a few more years of negro and white soldiery, and carpet bag and scalawag faculty rule and the property will indeed be past all necessity for oversight." The next year she bemoaned the lack of supervision of the campus and reported that "gangs of negroes spend the nights in the old South B. rioting and shouting--drinking."37

The Republican controlled university found few supporters: enrollment continued to decline, and the General Assembly, uninterested in the school, refused to grant funds for university expenses. In late 1870, the board of trustees suddenly closed the university and dismissed the staff. For the next four years, Cornelia Spencer lobbied university alumni, old political friends, and the public to organize support for the reopening of the institution under Democratic control. On March 20, 1875, she received a telegram from attorney Kemp P. Battle, who had been lobbying the General Assembly for funds to reopen the university. The telegram announced that the legislature had appropriated moneys for the operation of the school and guaranteed the annual renewal of the appropriation. Cornelia gathered her friends and crossed the campus to Old South, where she vigorously rang the school's bell in a victory celebration. The university officially reopened in September of that year.38

During the years of Reconstruction, the status of African Americans changed radically. Cornelia Spencer, occupied by her personal crusade to defend and support the university, showed little concern for the fate of the state's black population. In 1866, she wrote that she was glad that the blacks were free but that her sentiment rested not on a belief in racial equality but on her opinion that the maintenance of the insti-

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Cornelia's older brother, Charles Phillips (1822-1889), studied both medicine and theology before accepting a position as his father's assistant in the mathematics department at the university in Chapel Hill. A tutor in applied mathematics and civil engineering, he was appointed to James Phillip's professorship following the latter's death in 1867. Dismissed from the faculty by the university's Republican administration in 1868, he taught mathematics at Davidson College until 1875, when he returned to the newly reorganized UNC. Like his father, Charles also served as minister in several Presbyterian churches in Chapel Hill for a number of years. Photograph courtesy of the North Carolina Collection.

tution of slavery had "always been an awful drag upon the prosperity and development of the South." Blind to any black unrest, Cornelia claimed that during the Civil War, "our slaves behaved well." When the Ku Klux Klan rode through Chapel Hill in 1869, she was not so much upset at its presence as with the assumption that it a composed of local people. She wrote to her brother Charles that the night riders were from a neighboring county, not Chapel Hill. Even though local African Americans claimed to have recognized a friend of Spencer's as one of the Klan members, she refused to accept that accusation and again wrote her brother Charles stating that her friend "tells me that he was in bed when the K.K. rode by."39 Her son-in-law, James Lee Love, wrote that he had heard Cornelia speak "fervently" about the Klan, believing that it

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had protected local citizens during Reconstruction. Years later, he wrote that "I am sure that Mrs. Spencer believed that the 'Klan' filled an immediate and desperate need for the protection of women and property and the home."40

Known for her sharp tongue, Cornelia Spencer resorted to race baiting when the opportunity arose. For example, in 1876 she described the Republican Party of North Carolina as a group of "demagogues and negroes" whom "our fathers would have disdained to set with the dogs of their flock."41 When she thought of the Civil Right Act of 1875, she confessed that she could not think of it "coolly or without a shudder." She argued that racial equality would not benefit blacks but would "shut them out from the kindness and sympathy and good will of their white neighbors which they so much need, and so freely invoke, and so freely receive."42 In an 1869 editorial in the Raleigh Sentinel, Cornelia even attacked her brother Samuel's ally, Albion Tourgée, when an African American magistrate was appointed for Chapel Hill:

They [the citizens of Chapel Hill] still think it was an outrage to commit the entire administration of the law in their community into the hands of negroes .... They know that the day of Holden's omnipotence has passed.... They know there is such a thing as a writ of Habeas Corpus, which even Judge Tourgee dare not refuse to the humblest citizen."43

She could also easily direct her malice and scorn toward blacks. When, late in life, she was told that a professor had recently published a book on the psychology of African Americans, she replied, "I never knew before that the negro had a 'Psychology.' "44

Although her writings about African Americans were racist in tone, Cornelia Spencer maintained paternalistic relationships with a small number of blacks throughout her life. "Aunt Dilsey" and "Uncle Ben" Craig, the slave couple purchased by James Phillips shortly after his arrival in Chapel Hill in 1826, were considered as part of the household and continued to remain with their former owner after emancipation. Following James Phillips's death in 1867, the Craigs left the home of Cornelia and

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her mother to seek employment elsewhere. In her diary, Cornelia lamented, "dear old soul. I trust she [Aunt Dilsey] and I will live together again." When Julia Phillips died on February 22, 1881, and Cornelia returned home from the funeral, she found Aunt Dilsey at the house. Cornelia arranged with her brothers to provide a cabin for their former slave. When Aunt Dilsey's health began to decline, Cornelia kept her cabin clean and read aloud to her. Samuel Phillips sent money regularly from Washington to support both his sister and Dilsey Craig. When Aunt Dilsey died on May 25, 1894, at the age of ninety-three, Cornelia wrote the obituary for the local paper. She praised the black servant's loyalty to the Phillips family and concluded:

Let not the rising generation be impatient of a short and simple annal like this. They will never know the sweetness of attachment that exist between an old servant and the family to whom the loyal service was given.45

Poor whites met with Cornelia's approval when they, like Dilsey Craig, remained loyal to their employers, grateful for favors, and respectful of their betters. A number of poor whites were as distasteful to her as defiant African Americans. As she wrote in one of her columns for the North Carolina Presbyterian, "there are various strata among our peasantry, and the coming in contact with them all is not equally pleasant."46 In assisting the poor, Cornelia gave only to those unfortunate individuals whom she judged to be self-respecting, industrious, and sober. On the subject of charity, she advised her readers, "I confess I am prone to shut my heart against the poverty that seems to expect or demand relief, and am never so little inclined to give as when I am asked."47 Once, when she was called upon to dispense small sums of money to Chapel Hill's destitute, Cornelia found a dirty, poorly dressed recipient particularly touching: "She was old and poor and dirty - poor old soul. ... The poor old frock, and bit of a shawl, and her shapeless old calico bonnet, and her grimy old face with tobacco stains at each corner of her mouth." Cornelia warmed to the woman when she tearfully acknowledged a small gift of money.48

As with her opinions about charity, Spencer held distinct ideas concerning woman's rights. Cornelia Spencer was no feminist. She was well aware of the woman's rights movement and the writings of its greatest advocates. In an 1870 column, she reported that she had heard speeches by Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. Her response was not supportive:

They are clever talkers-self-possessed actresses, but when the world accepts their sharp incisive chatter, their shrill treble, their feeble feminine gesture in place of the thunder of Webster's argu-

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The son of a UNC faculty member and himself a graduate of the institution, attorney Kemp Plummer Battle (1831-1919) used his political connections in the General Assembly to assist Cornelia Spencer in her campaign to reopen the University of North Carolina in the mid-1870's. A childhood friend of the children of James Phillips, Battle maintained that relationship during his adult life. Another tie to the Phillips family was established when his aunt, Lucy Caroline Battle, married Charles Phillips in 1847. After serving as president of the newly reopened university (1876-1891), Kemp P. Battle devoted his later years to teaching and writing history. Photograph courtesy of the North Carolina Collection.

ment, the clarion tones of Clay, the eagle glance of Prentice-why then I say, let the world slip. I for one shall be ashamed of it.49

Cornelia was able to offer an explanation of northern origins of the movement. In a column on coeducation, she explained why "Our modern American women rebel against ... destiny":

The hardships of maternity and wifehood in the northern part of the Union have taken a deep hold on the female mind there. The vigor of their climate and the lack of domestic help together with the tremendous demands made upon physical and mental endurance by the incessant wear and tear of

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their wild pursuit of gain, have set their active minds at work considering whether it pays to be domestic drudges.50

Although the woman's rights movement was actively growing in the North in the 1870s, Cornelia did not believe that it would be successful and counseled her readers not to be concerned:

And so when my soul is much vexed with the women's rights movement, when I get a stray copy of The Revolution in hand ... I am indeed momentarily uneasy, but am almost immediately strengthened and steadied by the recollection that the earth is certainly moving on at the rate of some 68,000 miles an hour; that two and two are four; and that woman is fortunately woman and not man, and things therefore are likely to remain as to essentials pretty much a they were in the beginning and are now. Woman was created a queen consort.... Queen consort by right--queen regnant by courtesy. And queens don't vote, nor can they be seen shingling houses, nor laying stone walls, nor working the roads. Only those things that are equal to the same things are equal to one another.51

According to Spencer, women held a specific role in relation to men: "for woman, ... her true sphere in this world, ... is a subordinate one. I did not say inferior, young ladies, I said subordinate. There can be but one head, and the man is the head."52 Women did not need the same rights as men because the rights that enabled a woman to fulfill her purpose as wife and mother were already guaranteed. There was one right equating men and women that Cornelia Spencer did champion-the right of a woman to the same educational opportunities as a man. Julia Phillips had taught the same subjects to her sons and daughter. Equally educated with her brothers, Cornelia was denied a university education only by her sex. It is not surprising that she believed in providing women with the education necessary to enable them to pursue their talent and avocation:

But some thing from which woman has hitherto been debarred by want of education she should be allowed to do now with out quarrelling about it-if she can.

Let her be an Astronomer, if she can. Let her write a better poem than Paradise Lost, if she can.... Or write a better History or a better Arithmetic or a better Novel than has yet been done, if she can.... Let her be an Architect and plan buildings and make estimates, if she can. In none of these, nor in a thousand other roads opened by the progress and want of the age need she disturb the harmony of the spheres or the everlasting fitness of things.53

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She wrote numerous columns supporting education for girls and women. More importantly, she believed that women needed to be aware of their right to a good education. Spencer wrote,

The defect of her education and training has been that she has been taught to be satisfied with a slight and superficial knowledge of things - as any sort of teaching was thought good enough for a girl's school, so the girls themselves learned to think of any kind of doing "would do" in their work.54

Although advocating the opportunity of education for women, she firmly acknowledged that "the vast and overwhelming majority of women were born to be married, and therefore the best education for them must necessarily be that which will fit them to be the best wives and mothers."55 Later in life, Cornelia warned against providing a woman with too much education. From Cambridge, Massachusetts, she wrote to a friend in North Carolina that the young women of Massachusetts were unattractive and "singularly frigid and uninviting in manner." She then wondered if their condition could be attributed to "the effect of Math-Biology-and Political Economy on the female mind" or "mental dyspepsia."56

The majority of Cornelia Spencer's published and private writing concerned education. She thought that all of North Carolina's children - black and white - had a right to a good, public education and that the General Assembly had a responsibility to provide public education. In an 1879 editorial in the North Carolina Presbyterian, Spencer wrote: "[the legislature] might do little in the direction of our common schools and frame the law so that we should be provided with better teachers, better school-houses and more of them; they might go so far as to pass a law compelling indifferent, ignorant parents to send their children to school.57 A decade earlier, he had stated the goal of public education for North Carolina's children: "We must educate the common people, and inspire the children of our plain hard-working farmers with respect for knowledge as a means of elevation and power."58 This was not so much an argument for equality as for broad-based economic development. She believed that once the state's poor had been minimally educated, they then could become self-supporting.

Cornelia Spencer resided in Chapel Hill until 1894, living modestly on small sums from her writing and on gifts from her brothers. Plagued with deafness she still man-

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aged to lead an active life in the town, serving as a kind of welfare agency for the poor and sick, both black and white. Shortly after Dilsey Craig died, Cornelia discovered a lump in her breast. At the recommendation of her doctor, she traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for an operation. Her daughter, June Spencer Love, the wife of Harvard University instructor and administrator James Lee Love, lived in Cambridge. Cornelia quickly recovered from the surgery and decided to remain in her daughter's household. Although she missed Chapel Hill and her old friends, Cornelia occupied her time with caring for her grandchildren. She also continued to read and enjoyed the intellectual atmosphere of a professor's household. She died on March 11 1908, after a short illness.59

In some ways, Cornelia Spencer's life is reminiscent of that of northern educator and reformer Catharine Beecher (1800-1878). Both women were raised by clergymen fathers, who instilled in their daughters strict ideas of female piety and duty. Although Cornelia was married for a brief period, Beecher never married following the loss of her fiancé at sea. Both wrote extensively about women's roles in the home and in the family: while Spencer's literary reputation did not extend beyond North Carolina, Beecher's works were known nationally. Neither supported suffrage for women; yet, both advocated specific rights for women, especially the right of a woman to receive a good education.60

The comparison with Beecher also offers a striking contrast. Both women had fathers who were ministers, but the theological and world views of those two men were vastly different. When the Second Great Awakening came to the Beecher household, Catharine's father, Lyman, saw no distinction between personal and social concerns; he was determined to infuse morality into social institutions and took an active public role in society. While Catharine always had a problematic attitude toward her father's Calvinist zeal, she too used religious faith as a springboard to an active public career. Spencer's father apparently made no such connection. His brand of Calvinism lacked reformist zeal or the imperative to enter public life. He was a scholar who enjoyed the literature of Calvinism and its coherence, venturing out to preach to his small congregation on Sundays and to lead prayers for university students each morning. His daughter Cornelia remained close to home as well, her time occupied by family responsibilities.

The diversity of lifestyles chosen by southern, well-educated women is revealed in a comparison of Cornelia Spencer to the Grimke sisters of South Carolina. Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879) Grimke were born into a respected Charleston family. As the two young ladies matured, they turned to Quakerism. In the mid-1820s, the sisters moved to Philadelphia, where they later discovered the social reform movements of abolitionism and feminism. Eventually, they became such fervent abo-

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Following the death of her husband in 1861, Cornelia Spencer returned to her childhood home in Chapel Hill, where she remained for the next thirty years. She was fiercely loyal to the university that employed her father, brother, and many family friends. In the late 1860, he wrote bitter editorials attacking Republican officials who sought to control the university. After the institution was closed in 1870, Cornelia led a successful five-year campaign to have the university reopened. Pictured in this photograph from the North Carolina Collection is a scene of Chapel Hill's East Franklin Street in the mid-1870s.

litionists that they were threatened with death if they ever returned to the South. Cornelia Spencer never rebelled against her family, her church, or the social and political mores of her youth. She could live comfortably with the South, its history, and its social system.61

Cornelia Ann Phillips Spencer lived a circumscribed life in many ways, traveling little and staying close to her family and her home. Clearly intelligent and talented, she was conversant in politics, law, and the ministry. Her greatest interests were those of men, her tongue and her pen were sharp, and her writing was unusually clear and lively. She was the respected advisor to many of North Carolina's most influential figures. One wonders why an individual, possessing all of the assets to be a reformer and living in a period of great reforms, chose instead to be a defender of the old conservative order. The answer appears in one of her early North Carolina Presbyterian columns:

The greatest charm of a house is, or ought to be, the grown-up daughter. The good, cheerful, helpful, unselfish, industrious, bright-eyed, grown-up daughter. ... I am of the opinion that a girl should be

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brought up with a sense of her importance, a feeling as if she were a princess, and much depended on her, and much was expected of her. . . . A sense of duty begets ardor in the performance.62

Cornelia Spencer was raised with a sense of duty to her family. She was devoted to her brothers throughout their lives, even when one adopted political views that greatlycontrasted with her own. She steadfastly remained by her husband's side in Alabama, caring for him while he slowly lost his battle with illness. After Magnus Spencer's death, Cornelia returned to Chapel Hill, where she reentered her parents' household. In newspaper editorials and columns, she viciously attacked the state Republican administration during Reconstruction, including that party's takeover of the university that was so important to her father and brother Charles. She then shrewdly used her social influence, writings, and political connections to support the reopening of the university. She spent her last years with her daughter and grandchildren. From her sense of duty to family, Cornelia Spencer developed very definite opinion of what was proper for a woman and what was improper. An advocate for women's education, she nonetheless believed that the goal for most women should be marriage and that their energies should be focused on their responsibilities to their families. Cornelia Phillip Spencer had the opportunities to become a reformer, yet, she chose to be the dutiful "grown-up daughter," caring for her family, assisting her neighbors, and fighting for the causes in which she believed.

Dr. Wright is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and an adjunct associate professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She wishes to thank the North Caroliniana Society for its support of her research.

1. Cornelia Phillips Spencer to June Spencer Love, January 6 [9], 1891, Cornelia Phillips Spencer Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill, hereafter cited as C. P. Spencer Papers.

2. Cornelia Phillips Spencer to June Spencer Love, January 6, 1891, C. P. Spencer Papers, and "Paul C. Cameron" [obituary]' State Chronicle (Raleigh), January 11, 1891. Historian Paul Escott notes that Cameron displayed little kindness toward his former slaves after the Civil War; he replaced them with a small number of white farmers to whom he leased his land. Paul D. Escott, Many Excellent People: Power and Privilege in North Carolina, 1850~1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 120-122. On race relations in the South in the period from Reconstruction to the end of the nineteenth century, see Joel Williamson, The Crucible of Race: Black~ White Relations in the American South since Emancipation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).

3. Scholarship on southern elite women in the nineteenth century is extensive. Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830,1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970) remains the standard text on the subject. Other excellent studies include Suzanne Lebsock, The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784~1860 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984); Jean E. Friedman, The Enclosed Garden: Women and Community in the Evangelical South, 1830~1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985); Jane Turner Censer, "A Changing World of Work: North Carolina Elite Women, 1865-1895," North Carolina Historical Review 73 (January 1996): 28~55; Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Pre ,1988); Catherine Clinron, The Plantation Mistress: Women's World in the Old South (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982); and Virginia Ingraham Burr, ed., The Secret Eye: The JournaI of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848~1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

4. George C. RabIe, Civil Wars : Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), xi; Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 7.

5. Mrs. George T. Winston, "Bygone Day in Chapel Hill," News and Observer (Raleigh), April 27, 1902.

6. Cornelia Phillip Spencer to Laura [Mrs. Charles] Phillip, September 6, 1904, June 1, 1903, C. P. Spencer Papers.

7. On the life of James Phillips, see Jethro Rumple, "Rev. James Phillips, D. D.," North Carolina Presbyterian, February 21, 1883, reprinted in Jethro Rumple, The History of Presbyterianism in North Carolina (Richmond, Va.: Library of the Union Theological Seminary, 1966), 224-227. A distinguished clergyman, Rumple wrote his history of the Presbyterian Church in installments that were published irregularly in the North Carolina Presbyterian between 1878 and 1887. The Library of the Union Theological Seminary reprinted all of the installments of Rumple's history in 1966. For additional information on James Phillips, see Cornelia Phillips Spencer, "James Phillips," Presbyterian Historical Almanac [pamphlet in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill], 349-354; Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v. "Phillips, James."

8. There are two published biographical studies of Cornelia Phillips Spencer: Hope Summerell Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill: Being the Life and Letters of Cornelia Phillips Spencer (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1926), and [Charles] Phillips Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell: The Story of Cornelia Phillips Spencer (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1949). Phillips Russell, who taught creative writing at the University of North Carolina from 1931 to 1956, was Cornelia Spencer's grandnephew. For additional material on Mrs. Spencer's life and work, see Pamela Blair Gwin, " 'Poisoned Arrows' from a Tar Heel Journalist: The Public Career of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 1865-1890" (PhD. diss., Duke University, 1983), and Louis R. Wilson, ed., Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953). The Russell biography and the Wilson volume were published with the financial backing of Cornelia Spencer's family, in particular her son-in-law, James Lee Love, and her grandchildren, Cornelia Spencer Love and James Spencer Love.

9. Rumple, "Rev. James Phillips, D. D.," in Rumple, History of Presbyterianism, 225 ; Spencer, "James Phillips," in Presbyterian Historical Almanac, 349-354. James Phillips's eldest son, Charles, followed him into the ministry; however, his two other children lacked their father's zeal for Presbyterianism or any other theological doctrine. Cornelia was a loyal churchgoer and Bible reader, but neither she nor her brother Samuel adopted the evangelical stance or proclaimed themselves "born again." For information on Asahel Nettleton, see William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit or Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, 9 vols. (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1857-[1869]), 2:550.

10. Rumple, "Rev. James Phillips, D. D.," in Rumple, History of Presbyterianism, 226; Spencer, "James Phillips," in Presbyterian Historical Almanac, 349-354.

11. Cornelia P. Spencer to "Dear Old Friend," November 25, 1906, C. P. Spencer Papers. James Phillips's black congregation may not have been as delighted with him as he was with them. The traditional highly emotional worship practices of the slaves contrasted greatly with the reserved Presbyterian services that Phillips directed. For a discussion of the reaction of northern missionaries to southern African American religion, see Karin L. Zipf, " 'Among These American Heathens': Congregationalist Missionaries and African American Evangelicals during Reconstruction, 1865-1878," North Carolina Historical Review 74 (April 1997): 111-134.

12. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v., "Phillips, Charles."

13. The most authoritative source for biographical material on Samuel F. Phillip is Robert D. Miller, "Samuel Field Phillips: The Odyssey of a Southern Dissenter," North Carolina Historical Review 58 (July 1981): 263-280. The Whig Party rose to prominence in the 1830 and remained active for the next two decades. The party platform, emphasizing federal support of economic development and internal improvements, attracted businessmen, small farmers, and member of the early middle class. The party fractured during the 1850s over the question of slavery in new states: northern Whigs opposed slavery; southern Whigs were forced to defend the peculiar institution as essential to the south's economy. Most Whigs opposed the Civil War because of its negative impact on the nation's economic interests. On the early years of the Whig Party in North Carolina, see Max R. William, "The Foundation of the Whig Party in North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 47 (April 1970): 115-129.

14. For a succinct discussion of Samuel Phillips's career during Reconstruction, see Miller, "Samuel Field Phillips," 269-276, 275 (quotations). Works on Albion W. Tourgée include Otto H. Olsen, Carpetbagger's Crusade: The Life of Albion Winegar Tourgée (Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins University Press, 1965) and Theodore L. Gross, Albion W. Tourgée (New York: Twayne Publisher, 1963). See also Richard Nelson Current, Those Terrible Carpetbaggers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 46-67, 101-111, 193-213, 282-289, 367-382, 401-406. On the complexity of Reconstruction politics in North Carolina, see Richard L. Zuber, North Carolina during Reconstruction (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1969). For information on Samuel Phillip as U.S. solicitor general and his crusade for civil rights for African Americans, see Alan F. Westin, "The Case of the Prejudiced Doorkeeper," in John A. Garraty, ed., Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), 148, 155.

15. S. F. Phillips and F. D. McKenney, Brief for the Plaintiff in Error, Plessy vs. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), 8, 12, 15. On the Plessy case, see C. Vann Woodward, "The Case of the Louisiana Traveler," in Garraty, ed., Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution, 157-174; Barton J. Bernstein, "Plessy v. Ferguson: Conservative Sociological Jurisprudence," Journal of Negro History 48 (July 1963): 196-205; Otto Olsen, ed., The Thin Disguise: Turning Point in Negro History; Plessy v. Ferguson: A Documentary Presentation, 1864-1896 (New York: Humanities Press for the American Institute for Marxist Studies,1967); Charles A. Lofgren, The Plessy Case: A Legal-Historical Interpretation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 148-173.

16. Miller, "Samuel Field Phillips," 277-279; Lofgren, The Plessy Case, 164-173.

17. Miller, "Samuel Field Phillips," 280. On the significance of Booker T. Washington's White House dinner, see Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Pres, 1972), 305-324.

18. Cornelia P. Spencer to Judge W. H. Battle, December 12, 1874, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 476. The Sentinel was established in Raleigh in 1865 and served as the voice of the Conservative Democrat in North Carolina during Reconstruction.

19. Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 190-191, 206-211; Cornelia P. Spencer to June Spencer, February 28, 1872, C. P. Spencer Papers.

20. Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 33, 35.

21. Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 36-37.

22. Cornelia P. Spencer to Laura Battle Phillips, February 2, 1857, C. P. Spencer Papers; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 64-65.

23. Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 38-42; Cornelia Phillips Spencer Diaries, November 24, 1861, C. P. Spencer Papers, box 14, volume 2, hereinafter cited as C. P. Spencer Diaries, followed by date of entry, box and volume numbers; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 71. In a letter to a northern acquaintance in 1866, Cornelia wrote that she and her dying husband had never favored the Southern mobilization but that they had been "horror-stricken" over the attack on Fort Sumter. Cornelia Spencer to Eliza North, March 10, 1866, C. P. Spencer Papers.

24. C. P. Spencer Diaries, June 2, 1862, b14/v2; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 72

25. C. P. Spencer Diaries, August 10, 1862, b14/v2; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 72-73.

26. C. P. Spencer Diaries, December 11, 1862, b14/v2; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 74.

27. Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 75-76.

28. C. P. Spencer Diaries, April 17, 1865, b14/v3; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 86.

30. Cornelia P. Spencer to Eliza North, March 10, 1866, C. P. Spencer Papers.

31. C. P. Spencer Diaries, July 2, 1867, and various undated entries in late 1867, b14/v3; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 121-136; Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 96-100.

32. Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 101, 117.

33. Cornelia Spencer to Laura Battle Phillips, April 18, 1904, C. P. Spencer Papers. See also Thomas B. Alexander, "Persistent Whiggery in the Confederate South, 1860-1877," Journal of Southern History 27 (August 1961): 305-329.

34. The best source on Cornelia Spencer's political involvement is Gwin, " 'Poisoned Arrows' from a Tar Heel Journalist." On the courtship and marriage of Eleanor Swain Atkins, see Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 62-70.

35. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v. "Spencer, Cornelia Phillips"; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 101-112. Quotations from Cornelia Phillips Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina (New York: Watchman Publishing Company, 1866), 19, 45. During her lifetime, Cornelia Spencer published only one other book-length manuscript - First Steps in North Carolina History (New York: American Book Company, 1888). A history textbook for elementary schoolchildren, the work is significant because of it "Whiggish" and antisecessionist tone. Although the textbook was never popular, the publisher issued several editions of the work between 1888 and 1893. Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 201-203; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 266-268. On the reaction of family friend Kemp Battle to the text, see Kemp P. Battle to Col. William L. Saunders, April 8, 1889, University of North Carolina Papers, Southern Historical Collection.

36. Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, 2 vols. (Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton, 1907-1912), 1:754-758, 763-766, 774-779, 785. For a complete history of the University of North Carolina during Reconstruction, see Robin Brabham, "Defining the American University: The University of North Carolina, 1865-1875," North Carolina Historical Review 57 (autumn 1980): 427-455.

37. Cornelia P. Spencer to the Sentinel editor, February 1, 1870, Cornelia P. Spencer to Gov. W. A. Graham, September 10, 1870, and Cornelia P. Spencer to Mrs. David Swain, December 21, 1871, all in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 642-643, 649, 659. In the first half of 1869, Spencer wrote a series of articles for the Sentinel collectively titled "Pen and Ink Sketches." The sketches were stories about the university's past and its tradition of excellence in education, a tradition being threatened by the school's new Republican administration. Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 158-159; Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 120.

38. Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 678-679. For an extended discussion of the efforts to reopen the university, see Battle, History of the University, 2:41-49. In 1876, Kemp P. Battle was appointed president of the University of North Carolina, a position he held until 1891. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, .v. "Battle, Kemp Plummer."

39. Cornelia P. Spencer to Eliza North, March 10, 1866, Cornelia P. Spencer to Charles Phillips, September 2, 8, 1869, C. P. Spencer Papers.

40. James Lee Love Notebooks, entry dated April 1921, volume 7, James Lee Love Papers, Southern Historical Collection. Cornelia Spencer's belief in the Ku Klux Klan as a protector may have been magnified by an incident that took place in Chapel Hill in 1878, well after the Klan became inactive in North Carolina. Spencer and her daughter June awoke one night to find burglars in their home. They screamed so loudly that the men fled before harming anyone. The four intruders also tried to rob five other homes in Chapel Hill and, as President Battle remembered it, "aroused the village to fever heat." When two white and two African Americans were apprehended for the crime, three of them were hung in 1878. James Lee Love believed that his wife and her mother never fully recovered form the "nervous shock" of that robbery attempt. Battle, History of the University, 2: 150-151.

41. "North Carolina Needs Immigration and Capital," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, April 26, 1876, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 137. In 1869, Cornelia Spencer proposed to the editor of the North Carolina Presbyterian that she write a regular "Young Lady's Column" for the newspaper. She explained her purpose a "a duty incumbent on middle-aged and elderly people to make themselves agreeable and attractive to the young, for the sake of the good they might do - the lessons of wisdom they might impart." The editor agreed with Spencer, and her popular columns were printed in almost every issue of the Presbyterian between 1870 and 1876. Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 343, 344 (quotation).

42. "Free and Equal," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, February 26, 1875, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 128-129.

43. "Chapel Hill-The Standard," editorial, Sentinel, 1869, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 634-635.

44. Cornelia P. Spencer to Laura Phillips, June 20, 1904, C. P. Spencer Papers.

45. C. P. Spencer Diaries, February 22, 1868, b14/v3, and May 25, 1894, b15/v8; Cornelia P. Spencer to June Spencer, February 22, 1881, C. P. Spencer Papers; Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 141, 259, 299-300.

46. "Short and Simple Annals," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, n.d., in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 101-103.

47. "Visiting and Helping the Poor [No.1]," Young Lady' Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, May 15, 1872, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 368.

48. "Gratitude," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, February 18, 1874, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 59.

49. "Woman's Rights [No.1]," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, January 19, 1870, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 159.

50. "Coeducation at Michigan," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, October 25, 1876, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 290.

51. "Manners–Good and Bad," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, February 23, 1870, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 354. Founded by Susan B. Anthony and edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Revolution served as the voice for the woman's rights movement from 1868 to 1870. For information on the founding of the publication, see Alma Lutz, Created Equal: A Biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902 (New York: John Day Company, 1940), 157-166.

52. "Woman's Rights [No. 2]," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, April 22, 1874, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 166.

53. "Woman's Rights [No.1]," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, January 19, 1870, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 160.

54. "Woman's Work and Education," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, July 30, 1875, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 277.

55. "Work for Women, [No.4]," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, October 11, 1876, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 202

56. Cornelia P. Spencer to "Dr. Battle," December 2, 1897, C. P. Spencer Papers.

57. "For North Carolina," North Carolina Presbyterian, February 12, 1879, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 148.

58. "Universities, Colleges, School and Department [No.4: Common Schools are Basic]," North Carolina Presbyterian, April 6, 1870, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 228. In an 1889 letter to Paul Cameron, she pledged that if she became rich, she would create "a magnificent, well-endowed Industrial School for the boy and girls of N. Carolina." Cornelia P. Spencer to Paul Cameron, April 24, 1889, C. P. Spencer Papers. After the Civil War, wealthy planter and entrepreneur Paul Cameron became a supporter of education in the state. He was a benefactor of St. Mary's School in Raleigh, and his influential lobbying of General Assembly members led to the 1875 reopening of the university in Chapel Hill. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v. "Cameron, Paul Carrington."

59. Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel Hill, 301; Russell, The Woman Who Rang the Bell, 224-225, 243-244. In 1906, at the age of eighty, Cornelia Spencer noted in her diary that she was reading biographies on Otto von Bismarck and Benjamin Disraeli. C. P. Spencer Diaries, January 3, 5, 1906, b15/v12. Later that year, she wrote to a riend that she was studying Julius Caesar's Commentaries. Cornelia P. Spencer to "Dear Old Friend," November 25, 1906, C. P. Spencer Papers.

60. Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catharine Beecher: A study in American Domesticity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 3-55.

61. Gerda Lerner, The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman's Rights and Abolition (New York: Schocken Books, 1967).

62. "Resolves for the New Year," Young Lady's Column, North Carolina Presbyterian, January 5, 1870, in Wilson, Selected Papers of Cornelia Phillips Spencer, 346.