BETWEEN THE TWENTIETH century's turn and the First World War, women's nationalism often walked hand in hand with desires for political and social reform. Pondering the phrase “My country, right or wrong” in 1901, a St. Paul, Minnesota, member of the Daughters of the American Revolution allowed that her country could sometimes be wrong, and she called on her audience to “[bend] all our powers to make it right.”1 It was not only state-based nationalism, the merging of state with nation, that portrayed the state as an agent of progress. Black women who subscribed to American civic nationalism and black nationalism, which were both critical of the contemporary state, did the same in the course of their civil rights activism and social work. Significantly, neo-Confederate women did not, as neo-Confederates, engage in reform work except in relation to the erstwhile Confederate nation's core — Confederate veterans and their white relatives and descendants — in part because of reform work's faith in the state. Neo-Confederate women's relationship with the state continued to be stormy because the women continued to deny that allegiance to America must necessarily take the form of allegiance to the contemporary state.
Women nationalists' reform work exemplifies women-centered nationalism in its approaches to the state (as no longer exclusively male), its focus on youth, and its assertion that women could and should shape civilization. Reform work accommodated expansive definitions of female authority but ulti
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Publication information: Book title: Women and Patriotism in Jim Crow America. Contributors: Francesca Morgan - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 79.