Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stubborn Little Girl

At thirteen years old, my daughter was stubborn enough to gnaw off her own arms if her mother or I asked her to pick up her room. Maybe that's why I appreciate the story of Laura Talbot Galt.

Thirteen-year-old Laura was a student at Louisville's Eighth Ward Public School in 1902 when her eighth grade teacher scheduled a singing recital for the class. The class was instructed to sing "Marching through Georgia", and Laura wouldn't hear of it. Laura's grandmother, a member of the DAR and United Daughters of the Confederacy, advised her grandchild to obey the teacher, but to protest against the sentiment of the song.

On the night of the recital, Laura stood with her class but refused to sing the song. She stood mute in front of the audience with her fingers in her ears.

Laura's removal from school sparked headlines across the South. Women of the UDC insisted that "Marching Through Georgia" not be sung in any Southern school, and politicians acquiesced. Little Laura, known now as "Dixie's Little Darling", was celebrated at Lost Cause events well into adulthood. (Louisville attorney Bennett H. Young, who would go on to become commanding general of the United Confederate Veterans, arranged Laura's reinstatment to school.)

Not everyone appreciated the little girl's stubbornness. One Kentucky newspaper editor figured it was better to "spank the young miss and send her home to mama than have other scholars grow up in ignorance of that struggle between the states."

See New York Times, June 12, 1902, and the Hazel Green (Ky.) Herald, June 19, 1902.

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