Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Collections >> First-Person Narratives >> Document Menu >> Summary

Caroline Elizabeth Thomas Merrick, b. 1825
Old Times in Dixie Land: a Southern Matron's Memories
New York: Grafton Press, 1901.

Summary

Caroline Elizabeth Thomas was born at Cottage Hall in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana on November 24, 1825. Her father, David Thomas, was a South Carolinian who had settled in Louisiana after the War of 1812. In 1840 Caroline married Edwin T. Merrick, who later became chief justice of Louisiana. Following the war, the Merricks relocated to New Orleans, where Caroline Merrick became a motivated activist for women's rights and temperance. Through her efforts, Merrick effected several changes to Louisiana law. In 1879, she and other women spoke to the Constitutional Convention, petitioning for women's suffrage and their increased independence in financial and legal matters. For her efforts, Merrick was made honorary vice president of the Woman Suffrage Association of Louisiana. She also served for ten years as president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Louisiana. She died in New Orleans in 1908.

Merrick's memoir, Old Times in Dixie Land, A Southern Matron's Memories, was published in 1901 by New York's New Grafton Press. Following a description of her childhood and the early years of her marriage, she offers her thoughts on slavery, comparing its mutual benefits for both master and slave while arguing for its role in preserving the southern quality of life. In her discussion of the Civil War, Merrick outlines the hardships the South endured. Further substantiating her assertions, Merrick includes entries from her daughter's diary detailing the difficulties of life during the war years. The remainder of the narrative highlights the peculiarities of postbellum southern society, namely the ways in which women, who had played prominent roles in promoting the war effort, were essentially demoted after its conclusion. In closing Merrick outlines her hopes for the new century.

Works Consulted: Wilson, James Grant, and John Fiske, eds., Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography, New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1887-1926; Lender, Mark Edward, Dictionary of American Temperance Biography: From Temperance Reform to Alcohol Research, the 1600s to the 1980s, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Harris Henderson
Armistead Lemon

Document menu