Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




This study tells the story of white female criminals and addresses the problem of the white female criminality and the resulting reaction of the patriarchal society in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War, specifically the years 1861-1864. During the Civil War, white female criminality became a daily occurrence because of the wartime conditions in Richmond, such as inflation and overpopulation. Because of the established patriarchal society and the lack of emphasis on the women's rights movement in the South, the female involvement in crime during the war was extremely shocking to the male driven society. The judicial system struggled with how to deal with this new breed of women who violated the morals that society had set up for them, especially after female-led events like the Bread Riot. This riot consisted of thousands of women who stormed downtown Richmond, demanding the government to reduce the price of bread. Many of the women were arrested and society was left in fear and a state of embarrassment. This riot, along with the daily crimes committed by women unintentionally allowed women to establish themselves as political figures by creating a new space in society in which there was no space for them previously.

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