- Conqueror or Conquered: Or, the Sex Challenge Answered (1921)
- Editor of “Mama Flower” (1918)
- A Slaveholder’s Daughter (1900)
by Sheena Gandy (SHS)
Carrie Belle Kearney, suffragist, state legislator, and Mississippi temperance reformer, was born in Madison County, Mississippi, in Flora, on March 6, 1863 (Lloyd 276). Her parents were Walter Guston Kearney and Susannah Owens were wealthy plantation owners. She was the second daughter and the third child in a family of seven. At the age of eleven, she became a Methodist (James 309).
Her father lost most of the plantation in Madison County after the Civil War. As a result of their financial losses, Kearney had to quit school because her father could not afford to pay five dollars a month for tuition. She became a teacher to earn money. She first worked in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.). This organization wanted to make drinking illegal; it also tried to increase women’s rights. It worked to get women the right to vote and equal pay for equal work.
She lived much of the time in Washington, D.C., where she lobbied for the W. C. T. U. and also for suffrage. She went all over the United States and Europe giving speeches. Women finally got the vote in 1920. She also tried to get into politics in Mississippi. She ran for the United States Senate in 1922 but did not win. Next, she ran for the state senate and was elected in 1924. She was the first woman in the South to become a state senator and served from 1924 to 1932.
She wrote her autobiography A Slaveholder’s Daughter in 1900 and Conqueror or Conquered: Or, the Sex Challenge Answered in 1921. She also served as editor of a slim volume entitled Mama Flower, a biography of Flora Mann Jones. The limited edition was published in Jackson, Mississippi. This biography tells the story of the philanthropist for whom the Madison County town of Flora was named.
Kearney never married and spent her last years on the plantation where she had been born. She died of cancer in 1939 at the home of a friend in Jackson, Mississippi, at the age of seventy-five and was buried in Kearney Cemetery in Madison County (James 309).
- 1863 – Born March 6 in Madison County, Mississippi.
- 1891 – She became a lecturer and organizer for the national W.C.T. U.
- 1895 – She was elected president of the Mississippi W.C.T.U.
- 1900 – She published her autobiography A Slaveholder’s Daughter.
- 1902 – She became the first women to address a joint session of the Mississippi legislature.
- 1904 – She spoke on a world tour in a number of European countries for the W.C. T. U.
- 1918 – She was the editor of a slim volume entitled “Mama Flower.”
- 1921 – She wrote Conqueror or Conquered: Of, the Sex Challenge Answered
- 1922 – She ran for the United States Senate, losing to James K. Vardaman.
- 1924 – She was the first woman to become state senator in the South.
- 1939 – She died of cancer at a friend’s home in Jackson, Mississippi, on February 27.
A Review of A Slaveholder’s Daughter
by Sheena Gandy (SHS)
A Slaveholder’s Daughter by Carrie Belle Kearney tells the hardships of growing up with the different customs of society. Although Kearney was raised in a poor family, she became educated and still managed to maintain a career as a school teacher during her teenage years because her father couldn’t afford to pay her tuition at the academy she attended. She tells how it was hard for her to become a teacher because her father didn’t think it was appropriate for her to be a teacher at the age of nineteen. She was a very determined person, and she didn’t let anything get in the way of getting a better education. She also tells how it was important to be wealthy and to also own slaves. In her autobiography, she shows some illustrations of the slaves’ daily routine, primarily that of picking cotton. There are also illustrations of the slaves’ cabins . During her career as a W.C.T.U. president, she traveled to numerous places giving speeches about women’s rights. I enjoyed this book because not only was it about her life, but it was also growing up around slaves. This was a compelling story that changed my whole perspective of the people in the late 1800’s.
- Biography of Kearney from Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives by Martha H. Swain, Elizabeth Anne Payne, Marjorie Julian Spruill.
- A pdf. file of Slaveholder’s Daughter is available here.
- Page from Rednecks, Redeemers, And Race: Mississippi After Reconstruction, 1877-1917 by Stephen Edward Cresswell about Kearney.
- Documenting the American south summarizes A Slaveholder’s Daughter, the autobiography of Belle Kearney, 1863-1939.
- Cox, James L. Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998. The Ultimate Reference of the State. Yazoo City, Mississippi: Computer search and research, 1997. 141.
- James, Edward T. Notable American Women 1607- 1950 (A Biography Dictionary). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Volume I G-O. 309-310.
- Lloyd, James B. Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817-1967. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1981. 276-277.