Civil War Etiquette
For our 19th century forbearers, correctly followed social etiquette, frequently referred to as "correct social intercourse", was highly sought after by both ladies and gentlemen of all social and economic levels. Unlike England where the barriers of aristocracy and nobility existed, one could always improve one's station in life in America. Following these rules of etiquette while in the public eye and in first person can greatly enhance your impression.
- A gentlemen never smokes in the presence of ladies.
- While escorting a female on the steet, the lady always has the wall, allowing the gentleman to shelter her from splashing, dust and traffic from the street.
- When you meet a lady who is only a slight acquaintance in the street or park, you must wait first for her acknowledging bow - then you may tip your hat to her, which is done using the hand that is farthest away from her. You must not speak to her or any other lady unless she speaks to you first.
- If you meet a lady in the street whom you know well enough to speak to, do not stop her, but walk with her in which ever direction she is going. When you are finished speaking to her you may take your leave.
- In going up a flight of stairs, you precede the lady, in going down, you follow.
- A gentleman is always introduced to a lady, never the other way around. It is presumed to be an honor for the gentleman to meet her.
- In walking with a lady, take charge of any small parcel, parasol, or book with which she may be encumbered.
- To nod or merely touch the brim of the hat is far from courteous; the hat should be lifted from the head.
- On meeting a friend with whom you are likely to shake hands, remove the hat with your left hand in order to leave the right hand free.
- When introduced to a lady, never offer your hand. When introduced persons limit their recognition of each other to a bow.
- If unmarried and under thirty, a lady is never to be in the company of a man unchaperoned. Except for a walk to church or a park in the early morning, she may not walk alone but should always be accompanied by another lady, a man or a servant.
- Under no circumstances may a lady call on a gentleman alone unless she is consulting that man on a professional or business matter.
- A lady never dances more than three dances with the same partner.
- A lady is allowed to "cut" someone - that is to fail to acknowledge their presence when encountered socially - only under extreme circumstances. An example would be a man who persists on bowing when not properly introduced.
- 5. A lady may only be introduced to a gentleman by her father, brother, or parents' close friends.
- A lady should never demand that a seat be given to her, whether it be in a theater, at the table or on a train, but should wait for it to be offered to her.