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Bringing down the Colonel : a sex scandal of the Gilded Age, and the "powerless" woman who took on Washington

Author: Patricia Miller
Publisher: New York : Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018. ©2018
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
"The story of the 1890s scandal in which a young woman named Madeline Pollard sued congressman William Campbell Preston Breckenridge for breach of promise. Pollard won the suit, and the mystery of who helped her pay the extravagant legal expenses in order to bring Breckinridge down illuminates a shift in the sexual politics of the Victorian era"--
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Details

Genre/Form: Nonfiction
Biographies
History
Named Person: Madeline Pollard; William Campbell Preston Breckinridge; William Campbell Preston Breckinridge
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Patricia Miller
ISBN: 9780374252663 0374252661
Language Note: Text in English.
OCLC Number: 1050144218
Description: 368 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Gold to be made --
A bright and brainy woman --
A bastard catch'd --
The left-hand road --
The wanton widow --
Not so easily handled --
What shall we do with our daughters? --
For the likes of me --
The needle, the school room, and the store --
A house of mercy --
Miss Pollard's ruin in Lexington --
Somebody's daughter --
A man of passion --
Hindered, not ruined --
The front parlor and the back gate --
The cavalier and the puritans --
Refusing to behave --
Redemption.
Responsibility: Patricia Miller.

Abstract:

"The story of the 1890s scandal in which a young woman named Madeline Pollard sued congressman William Campbell Preston Breckenridge for breach of promise. Pollard won the suit, and the mystery of who helped her pay the extravagant legal expenses in order to bring Breckinridge down illuminates a shift in the sexual politics of the Victorian era"--

Madeline Pollard and the married Colonel Breckinridge began their decade-long affair when she was just a teenager. After the death of his wife, Breckinridge asked for Pollard's hand-- then broke off the engagement to marry another woman. Pollard sued Breckinridge for breach of promise in a shockingly public trial. With premarital sex considered irredeemably ruinous for a woman, Pollard was asserting the unthinkable: that the sexual morality of men and women should be judged equally. Miller tells the story of one of the earliest women to publicly fight back-- and became an unlikely nineteenth-century women's rights crusader. -- adapted from jacket.

"In the summer of 1893, headlines across the United States screamed of one thing: a virtually unknown woman was suing a well-respected congressman for fifty thousand dollars. ... The Cincinnati Enquirer declared, 'Nothing in recent years has created such a social agitation.' In [this book], journalist Patricia Miller unveils and explores the unknown story of Madeline Pollard, whose suit illuminates a crucial moment in the history of women's rights. It was the culmination of a scandal ten years in the making. In the early 1880s, Colonel W.C.P. Breckinridge, a handsome, married, moralizing lawyer running for Congress, called on Madeline Pollard, a young student at the Wesleyan Female College, thus beginning a lengthy affair, one Pollard thought might someday end in marriage. When it didn't, she sued Breckinridge for breach of promise--and thereby revealed their affair, her past pregnancies, and her now-sullied reputation. The audacity of Madeline Pollard's suit utterly shocked the nation. Even more shocking: she won. As Miller tells Pollard's story, she also introduces other women worth knowing--from Maria Halpin, raped and sent to an insane asylum by the future president Grover Cleveland, to Nisba Breckinridge, the colonel's daughter and the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago--and charts the changes in attitudes about women and sex over the years. [This book] is a riveting chronicle of lost American history: Madeline Pollard's story is resonant and redemptive."--Dust jacket.

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