Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the

Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the "Powerless" Woman Who Took on Washington Review

The woman--and her illicit affair--that rocked Victorian America

When Madeline Pollard was a teenager, she began an extended affair with the Kentucky Congressman William Breckinridge, one of the most influential men in America. Breckinridge was married, and he once declared women's chastity "the cornerstone of human society." He seduced Pollard, and when his wife died, he asked for her hand. After a decade-long affair, they were to be married--but then Breckinridge broke off the engagement and suddenly married another woman.

In 1893, Pollard sued Breckinridge for breach of promise, and their affair--in all its indecorous detail--became shockingly public. 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 the same way. In court, she said, "I'll take my share of the blame. I only ask that he take his." The sensational five-week trial woke Victorian women up to the harsh injustice of double standards. And, surprisingly, Pollard won.

Nearly 125 years after the Breckinridge-Pollard scandal, we're still obsessed with sexual morality and the role women play in maintaining it. From concern about the decline of marriage and the rise of "hook-up" culture to battles over contraception and abortion, the underlying concern is the regulation of appropriate sexual behavior for women. Bringing Down Breckinridge is the story of one of the earliest women to take a stand against that regulation. Using trial transcripts, newspaper coverage, personal journals, and letters, the journalist Patricia Miller chronicles the fascinating and virtually unknown Pollard-Breckinridge trial, arguing for its rightful place within the history of women's rights.

Title:Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the "Powerless" Woman Who Took on Washington

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Valerity (Val)

    Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the ‘Powerless’ Woman Who Took On WashingtonA look at things in Victorian America for women. A Kentucky lawyer and politician makes ...

  • BELLETRIST

    A must-read for any one who cares or is interested in women's history. ...

  • David

    There are more non-fiction narratives of bullying being published. Or so it seems to me. While reading this book, I also tore through an appalling account of present-day avarice-led bullying by lawyer...

  • Anita Ojeda

    When Jennie Tucker heads to Washington D.C. with the promise of a lucrative position, she has no idea what her employer has in mind for her. A single woman nearing her thirties, Jennie comes from a go...

  • Sarah

    What a fascinating history, one involving feminism, politics, law, and the ever-present double-standard in American society. Miller does a great job introducing to readers a wide cast of characters in...

  • Kimball

    BRINGING DOWN THE COLONEL is a nonfiction account of Madeline Pollard’s lawsuit against Colonel W.C.P. Breckinridge for abandonment (he had a shotgun marriage with another woman while engaged to Pol...

  • Sally

    Over a century before the onset of #metoo, a previously unknown woman brought a breach of marriage suit against a powerful Washington politician. This was no small thing since she would be required to...

  • Caro

    4.5I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this, to be honest - I was excited to try it but I'm not the biggest fan of nonfiction, so my expectations weren't high. I enjoyed the tone and language a lot - it ...

  • Shannon A

    Patricia Miller accomplishes here a very detailed, in-depth investigation of the nineteenth-century scandal that was brought to trial and changed how America looked at women’s sexuality. Madeline Po...

  • Robin

    A fascinating book about the trial that took down a colonel and also was the first chance for women in America to speak out about the double standards of a man "sinning" and a woman "being ruined". Mu...