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Political Battles

‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ Protest Clipping

Newspaper clipping [from unknown source] about protest of Uncle Tom’s Cabin play by the Lexington Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

 Activism in Southern women’s groups went beyond memorialization. Ladies groups fought for the Confederate culture and soul. Southern women did not tolerate when their romanticized version of the Old South became threatened. A danger came to Kentucky when the Lexington Opera House promoted a play production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1902. The Lexington Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UCD) took the job upon themselves to prevent the play from being shown. The chapter successfully petitioned the opera house manager, Charles Scott, and stopped the play’s production. Then again in 1905, the play attempted to return to the city. The chapter went further than just stopping the play in their city. They wanted the play banned from the entire state. The women wrote a resolution for local newspapers explaining their argument. The resolution stated, “We enter our protests especially in the interest of the children and the community at large. We ask that it be not patronized, as it is not in sympathy with the feeling of our national government shown in the recent return of our [Confederate] flags, nor in keeping with our united efforts for a non-partisan history.” The women wanted to ensure their political actions did not appear treasonous, but the resolution continued by stating how the play harmed the morality and image of Kentucky. The Lexington UCD along with other chapters around the state banded together to lobby state legislatures. The efforts produced the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Law in March 1906. The law stated that no play could be performed in Kentucky that “is based upon antagonism alleged formerly to exist, between master and slave, or that excites race prejudice.” The efforts by the UDC Kentucky Division further cemented the state’s commitment to the Lost Cause by establishing legal imprisonment and fines for blemishing the Old South’s reputation.