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American CreedPhilanthropy and the Rise of Civil Society, 1700–1865$
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Kathleen D. McCarthy

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561981

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561998.001.0001

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The Politics of Chivalry

The Politics of Chivalry

(p.165) 8 The Politics of Chivalry
American Creed
University of Chicago Press

Abolitionism constituted one strain of antebellum philanthropy. Far less volatile were the growing array of female-controlled charities and reform movements that ran the gamut from humanitarianism to labor reform. Many of these women's groups pursued politically oriented agendas, whether through petition drives or ongoing requests for state and municipal appropriations. The common denominator that united them was their dependence on what might be termed “the politics of chivalry”—their shared reliance on the patronage and good will of male politicians. Despite the rhetoric of austerity, several male-controlled charities and societies did very well indeed during these years, receiving sizable public allocations under both Whiggish and Democratic administrations. Charities benefited a dual constituency: the trustees who managed them and the people they aided. The long-standing quasi-governmental roles of the middle-class white women who headed urban charities and asylums were curtailed in the Jackson and Van Buren years by public cutbacks.

Keywords:   abolitionism, philanthropy, chivalry, charities, Democratic administrations

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