Origins of the Lost Cause: The Continuity of Regional Celebration in the White South, 1850-1872


Mathew A. Speiser

Volume 42 (2009)

University of Virginia


In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, a number of white southern writers and political leaders worked to construct a favorable history of the old South and the Confederacy.  Seeking vindication of the white South in the wake of seemingly crushing defeat, they resurrected pro-white southern imagery and ideology of earlier years.  In doing so, these advocates for the white South constructed a “Lost Cause” mythology and memory of the Civil War and white southern history and culture.  Specifically, they celebrated the South’s natural beauty and idyllic plantations, supported a white supremacist racial hierarchy in southern society, claimed liberty as a southern principle and the American Revolution as southern heritage, wrapped their sectionalism in a constitutional theory of state sovereignty, and nostalgically glorified the southern past.  In pushing these ideas, these postwar “Lost Causers,” such as former Confederate president Jefferson Davis and the then-famous Virginia journalist Edward Pollard-whose 1866 book, The Lost Cause, probably coined the phrase with its title-picked up where earlier white southern advocates had left off, working to construct a public memory that would sustain earlier white southern advocates’ vision of an ideal South and white southerners.[1]

Most historians have examined Lost Cause ideology as a product of Confederate defeat and have focused on its peak at the turn of the twentieth century.  But by that time, the Lost Cause had actually been prominent for decades, since the immediate wake of the Civil War.  In seeking to uncover the Lost Cause’s origins, this paper will challenge the work of other historians by examining the first months and years after the Civil War, when a group of white southerners worked to salvage their vision of an idyllic South from defeat.  And in fact, because the early Lost Cause had grown out of even earlier white southern advocacy, this paper will push further back, tracing the ideas of the early Lost Cause to wartime Confederate morale-boosting and to antebellum efforts to promote a vision of white southern identity and pride.  Thus, unlike most scholarship on Civil War memory, which, when it has touched upon the Lost Cause’s emergence, has looked to the 1870s-at the earliest-I plan to look back to the 1860s and earlier, to highlight the continuity of white southern advocacy from the antebellum to postwar years.[2]

Historians can look beyond the chapter headings that we assign to history in order to better grasp how individuals experienced the past.  That the Civil War was both a disruption and a bridge in American history is particularly important for understanding the roots of the Lost Cause.[3] Indeed, white southern advocates of the mid-nineteenth century steadily worked to shape perception of the South.  Before, during, and after the war, they hoped to gain a place in popular culture for their vision of the ideal South, white southerners, and southern ideology.  The Lost Cause represented the postwar phase of this broader, continuous effort.

A perusal of mid-nineteenth-century white southern advocacy can reveal its continuity from the antebellum to the postwar years.  One example of this continuity entailed the celebration of idyllic plantations and agrarian prosperity.  In 1852, John Pendleton Kennedy, a novelist who devoted much of his work to celebrating Virginia, wrote of an “aristocratical old edifice which sits, like a brooding hen, on the southern bank of the James….sprinkled with oaks whose magnificent branches afford habitation to sundry friendly colonies of squirrels and woodpeckers.”[4] Later, such imagery remained part of Confederates’ conception of the South, as they portrayed an agrarian South fighting an industrial North.[5] And it endured after the war, when Lost Causers glorified the Old South by idealizing pristinely manicured “plantation vistas.”[6]

White southern advocates also consistently celebrated the broader natural beauty of the South.  In South Carolinian novelist William Gilmore Simms’s 1854 book, Southward Ho!, a southerner tells a northern character, “Give up your Newport and Saratoga tendencies, and wend south with me in search of cool breezes and a balmy atmosphere.”  Later, Lost Causers retained pride in the South’s natural beauty: as a Georgia writer told readers in a passage about the “beautiful South” in 1868, there were “tall pines like stalwart grenadiers of the forest [that reared] their green-crested heads far into the blue vaulted canopy above.”[7] After all, nature was something that the war-even its widespread destruction-could not take away from the South.

A commitment to white supremacist racial hierarchy was also a steady and prominent part of white southern advocates’ celebration of the South.  Before and during the war, they had been intent on preserving slavery and its racial hierarchy.  When the war ended, they sought to preserve that racial hierarchy, in order to sustain their own power and also to vindicate the southern past.  Lost Causers were not unique in their racial bigotry-they were part of a racist world-but they harbored distinct and pressing fears about living among millions of emancipated slaves.  Such fears fed their older racial bigotry and drove their determination to uphold arguments for racial hierarchy.

In upholding those arguments, Lost Causers did not abandon earlier glorifications of slavery, even as they reluctantly accepted emancipation and denied slavery as the war’s central cause.  In 1867, when former Confederate General Jubal A. Early described slavery as having “furnished a class of labourers as happy and contented as any in the world, if not more so,” he joined other Lost Causers in echoing the old claims of white southern advocates, such as William Harper, who had argued before the Civil War that “the negro race, from their temperament and capacity, are peculiarly suited to the situation which they occupy, and not less happy in it than any corresponding class to be found in the world.”[8]

White southern advocates also steadily claimed that the South had defended liberty through its history.[9] They framed southern history as a tale of self-defense on the part of southern cavaliers skillfully fighting outside assault, evident first in wars with American-Indians, then in the Revolution, in resistance to the antebellum federal government and abolitionists, in war against the invading Union armies, and finally in opposition to perceived radical vindictiveness in the wake of the war.  An 1851 account of southern history in the Southern Quarterly Review asserted that “the North has been the attacking party; the South has stood on the defense,” just as after the Civil War, former Confederate assistant Secretary of war Albert T. Bledsoe looked back on the conflict as one of northern “coercion to put down secession.”[10]

From the prewar to the postwar eras, mid-nineteenth-century white southern advocates also consistently emphasized a constitutional principle of state sovereignty as part of their defense of southern sectional aims and identity.  This represented a legal component of their broader effort to define and honor white southerners and their culture and political perspective. As historians Arthur Bestor and Jesse Carpenter have shown, arguments for state sovereignty had first grown as a tool for protecting slavery, but they became increasingly central to self-conscious antebellum white southern identity.  Bestor and Carpenter have shown that antebellum white southern advocates believed the Constitution had aimed for state sovereignty, which in turn preserved whites’ legal “right” to slavery.  Meanwhile, the South’s legal thinkers associated the North with consolidation.[11] During the war, many Confederates continued to emphasize their constitutional doctrine of “free, sovereign, and independent states,” as South Carolina’s proclamation of secession put it.  Later, the Lost Cause contained substantial remnants of this ideology.  Lost Causers maintained the belief that the Constitution upheld state sovereignty, white southern power, and white supremacy.  As Albert T. Bledsoe argued in 1866, the Constitution was “a compact,” established by “consent…between the States,” which were “sovereign” and which acted as “separate, independent, and equal bodies.”  Moreover, as the South “always been in the minority,” its “only sheet-anchor of safety against the” northern majority consisted of “States [and] their rights,” as designed by the Constitution.  Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia, a prominent lawyer and career politician who frequently gave speeches contributing to the Lost Cause’s glorification of the white South, pledged his allegiance in an 1868 speech in Atlanta to the “glorious ancestral doctrine that the States are equal and that white blood is superior.”  In a later speech, Hill also expressed the fear that Military Reconstruction Bills “violated the Constitution [and] degrad[ed] the white race.”[12]

This legal side of the southern defense helped balance the aristocratic tilt of Old South imagery and the viciousness of racial caste systems.  It also made the celebration of the South more accessible to Americans at large, by emphasizing liberty and by tapping constitutional arguments that many nineteenth-century Americans accepted as legitimate. As Kenneth Stampp has shown, in the decades following the American Revolution, a lack of consensus among American citizens about the balance of power between state and national government helped produce a commitment to a loose American federalism.[13] This commitment to a loose federalism included a popular acceptance of the theory of state sovereignty.  After the war, Lost Causers hoped to seize upon this old acceptance of southern constitutional theory.  They hoped that southern legal theory could continue legitimizing their support for secession, bigotry, and the Confederacy, and continue serving as a more concrete footing alongside their escapist venture into a land of plantations and chivalry.

In addition to their constitutional theory, white southern advocates consistently made the broader claim that the South was the true heir to the American Founding.  Decades before the war, for example, South Carolina Senator John Calhoun compared the South’s “love of liberty” to that of the colonies “at the commencement of the American Revolution.”  Edmund Ruffin, an agriculturalist and president of the Virginia Agricultural Society, wrote in a pro-secession work that in response to the “assaults” of the North, much of the “population of the Southern States [was] ready to resist and to defend their rights at all hazards,” just as those of the “patriotic party in the colonies from 1775 to ‘76″ had done.  Later, during and after the war, many white southerners upheld the claim that the South carried forth the Founders’ legacy.  In 1864, the Richmond Dispatchdeclared that “the war carried on by Great Britain against the colonies during the Revolution was waged for subjugation.  The present war, waged by the Yankees against independent States, is for the same object.”  Several years after the war’s conclusion, former Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens declared that white southerners had consistently sought “that liberty and equality… established by the Constitution [that] men of 1776 had periled their lives…to establish.”  Sallie Brock Putnam, a Virginian writer, wrote in 1867, that the Confederate cause had represented “the cause of the revolution” and had been fought by “the Southern soldier-the Rebel, as he was proud to be termed-in his struggle for the birthright inherited him from his ‘forefathers, who too had rebelled.’”  Albert T. Bledsoe wrote in 1866 that “the creed of the fathers, the creed of all sections in 1787, the creed of all the States for more than thirty years after the formation of the ‘more perfect Union;’ was substantially the creed of the South in 1861.”[14]

Nostalgia was also a steady part of white southern advocacy, even before the Civil War. Indeed, the Lost Cause’s focus on the past and on southern loss emerged from a longtime sense among white southern advocates that the ideal South was fragile in the face of powerful threats.   White southern advocates, even before the war, displayed a pronounced tendency to focus on southern losses-and former glory-as a way to dramatically celebrate the region.  This nostalgia was strikingly prominent, and it centered upon the glorification of an ideal South.  As early as 1835, William Gilmore Simms described the town of Dorchester, “one of the visible dwelling-places of Time; and the ruins that still mock, to a certain extent, his destructive progress.”  In the 1850s, John Pendleton Kennedy remembered “country life in Virginia, as it existed in the first quarter of the present century,” and he observed that the “Old Dominion is losing somewhat of the raciness of her once peculiar… cast of manners.  The mellow, bland, and sunny luxuriance of her old-time society…are modified at the present day.”  Later, during the Civil War, nostalgia remained a part of white southern advocacy. South Carolinian poet Henry Timrod longingly wondered during the war,

Is there indeed a door,

Where the old pastimes, with their lawful noise,

And all the merry round of Christmas joys,

Could enter as of yore?

And in the wake of the war, nostalgia defined Lost Cause mythology to an even greater extent, as Lost Causers framed their entire celebration of the idealized South through the lens of Confederate defeat and the sorrow of southern destruction.  Thus, a Georgia novelist could write to her readers in 1868 that she hoped to cast “one last, fond, lingering look on our Southern homes as they existed before the red hand of war made them desolate.”[15]

There were other elements of continuity within mid-nineteenth century white southern advocacy (including a celebration of southern character and patriarchy), but the examples above effectively give a sense of their extent.  All this continuity, however, raises a crucial question: did anything change in Lost Causers’ celebration of the South?

Clearly, the Civil War must have had an impact on white southerners who had lost their quest for political independence and racial slavery.  But significant continuity existed within the southern cultural defense through the mid-nineteenth century, resulting from the fact that the Lost Cause emerged almost immediately from the ruins, bringing older southern ideas and pride with it. Indeed, after fighting a war over such fundamental concepts as Union, federalism, slavery, and the Constitution, Lost Causers chose to confront defeat as many people might: by holding onto what they could.

Thus early Lost Causers couched their mythology about the South’s recent war effort in older ideas.  They lacked the consensus that emerged over time into polished doctrine (for example, the idolization of Robert E. Lee had not yet reached full tilt), but they rapidly promoted a blueprint for Lost Cause orthodoxy that was possible precisely because they extracted much of their ideology from southern thought of the antebellum and wartime years.  Thus, they built a bridge to earlier eras, as they worked to garner support for the white South, gain power, and defend the white South against perceived outside attack.  In using ideas that earlier white southern advocates had made popular, Lost Causers distorted southern life and history as much as their predecessors had.  Consolidating years of white southern thoughts and fears was part of Lost Causers’ ambitious attempt to fuse all of white southern history into a sweeping, attractive abstract of regional heritage.[16]

They faced a challenge, however, in that the Confederacy had seemingly been the culminating experiment in the quest to realize white southern advocates’ longstanding vision.  With the experiment crushed, how could Lost Causers maintain older ideals?  By exploring the Lost Cause’s roots, we can begin to answer that question.  Many of the early Lost Causers sought to achieve with memory what they had not achieved with war, re-fighting “the war with a pen,” in the words of Rollin G. Osterweis.  The Lost Cause, while not a denial of the war’s end, did often seem a perennial effort to stave off unconditional surrender.  And that effort meant holding onto ideas that had led them to war.  As E. A. Pollard of Virginia wrote in 1866, the South had “thrown down the sword to take up the weapons of argument,” but postwar southerners did not have to “lose their…former habits of thought.”  Thus, even as Lost Cause literature made nostalgic pronouncements about a doomed, vanquished southern world-a “Lost Cause“!-it also sought to sustain as much of the earlier celebration of the Old South as possible.[17]

Lost Causers pronounced their vision a “Lost Cause,” even as they pursued that cause’s victory.  They believed that this cause centered upon the continued celebration of the South’s cultural heritage.  Thus, Lost Causers grappled with the failure of the Confederate experiment by carrying forward a number of the arguments that white southerners had long used to celebrate themselves and their region.  The Confederacy was to have been the capstone for those arguments; in the wake of its destruction, the Lost Cause took its place as the central vehicle for maintaining a vision of the ideal South and of white southerners.  Lost Causers’ success in upholding some arguments did not mean that they achieved a complete victory in the nineteenth century.  After the Civil War, for example, the Republican Party gained long-term ascendance, and a number of northerners, Union veterans, and African-Americans published narratives that directly countered Lost Cause efforts to vindicate the Confederacy and celebrate white southerners.[18] But Lost Causers were able to sustain many ideas of earlier white southern advocacy.  Historians need not overplay postwar reconciliation or the South’s idealization in popular culture to see that views of the early Lost Causers found their way into the nation and its understanding of the Civil War and the Old South.

For white southern advocates before, during, and after the war, the emphasis on promoting a cultural ideal sometimes did blend with more tangible aims.  When this happened, white southern advocates often diverged in their specific goals, even as they continued to share a broader cultural ideal.  Certainly white southern advocates shared some tangible goals, such as their efforts to counter abolitionists before the war and radical Republicans after it ended.  But what they really shared, through the years, was the aim of preserving their image of the ideal South within southern-and ultimately American-popular culture and perception.[19] Although white southern advocates did not always consciously work together, they shared a vision of the South as a distinct, superior region and white southerners as a distinct, superior people.  And when they could, they used this vision to help attain future southern power and shape southern society.

White southern advocates celebrated their ideal South for its own sake, even as they also hoped that this celebration would vindicate the southern past, sustain southern pride, and, broadly speaking, provide inspiration for the southern future.  Indeed, although they diverged in their goals for the future, white southern advocates consistently promoted their image of an ideal South for posterity.  As E. A. Pollard wrote in his work, The Lost Cause, a year after Appomattox, “the author aspires to place the history of the War above political misrepresentations.”  In stating this goal, Pollard revealed white southern advocates’ real desire to inject their own view into popular memory and politics.  Even if their southern ideal could not translate into perfect policy-let alone military victory-it could preserve their idea of southern values, heritage, and identity.  For white southern advocates, their ideal represented society at its best.  They greatly valued this ideal as a cultural model, evident in their prolific efforts to cement its image in popular culture with books, articles, and speeches.[20]

From the antebellum to the postwar years, white southern advocates adapted their basic ideas to dramatically changing circumstances and challenges.  From the 1830s to the1850s, writers like John Pendleton Kennedy and William Gilmore Simms, along with political figures like the Fire Eater William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama, an ardent secessionist who served in the House of Representatives and who gained fame as an orator, defended their region with a glorified vision of the Old South.  During the war, writers like John Esten Cooke and Augusta Jane Evans, along with the Confederacy’s military and political leadership, focused on the Confederacy and morale, but they used older imagery of an idyllic South to do so.  After the war, Lost Causers, from General Jubal Early to lawyer and politician Benjamin Hill, used the same ideas to vindicate the southern past and to influence the postwar Union.

Any historical explanation of the influential Lost Cause mythology must explore the consistency and continuity of white southern advocacy from the antebellum years to the early Lost Cause.  By uncovering the origins and emergence of the Lost Cause in the efforts of white southern advocates of the mid-nineteenth century, we can gain further understanding of the Lost Cause’s place within American history and thought.  In the immediate wake of the Civil War, Lost Causers sought to limit the terms of white southern surrender, accepting Union and emancipation but nothing more.  They achieved surprising success, as they helped stifle northern aims for Reconstruction and successfully promoted a vision of an Old South-with imagery of manicured plantations, praise for noble southern soldiers, and claims about benefits of harsh racial hierarchy-within southern and then American popular perception.  In shaping such perception, they incorporated the war and Reconstruction into earlier southern celebration.  Their postwar efforts, resting upon those of earlier white southern advocates, produced a prominent Lost Cause memory of the South, the Confederacy, and the Civil War, which in time would become an enduring piece of broader American culture.

[1] Edward Albert Pollard, The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates (New York: E. B. Treat & Co., Publishers, 1866). Even pieces of the Lost Cause that seemed new to the postwar period actually stemmed from earlier white southern advocacy. An emphasis on wartime northern resources, for example, fit into older depictions of the South as a noble region facing powerful outside aggression.

[2] A glance at the literature on the Lost Cause helps illustrate the fact that historians have not focused on continuity in white southern advocacy from the prewar, through the wartime, and into the postwar years: for example, in The Myth of the Lost Cause (1973), Rollin G. Osterweis links antebellum and postwar southern romanticism, but he does not flesh out how the Old South persisted into the New. See Osterweis, The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865-1900 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1973). Gaines M. Foster’s Ghosts of the Confederacy (1987) remains the leading work on Lost Cause origins, but it does not focus on the early Lost Cause or its continuity with older white southern thought. See Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865-1913 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987). David Blight’s popular Race and Reunion (2001) focuses on late nineteenth-century reconciliation. See Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001). Peter Carmichael’s The Last Generation (2005) demonstrates that individuals’ experiences bridged antebellum and postwar years, but his focus is also not the roots of the Lost Cause. See Carmichael, The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

[3] Public memory often plays a crucial role in society, and it can be a useful historical tool for understanding society. A number of historians of Europe have led the way; Alon Confino, for example, has shown how German remembrance of World War II has shaped postwar German culture. American historians, too, have increasingly focused on memory, specifically that of the Civil War: Thomas Connelly in The Marble Man (1978) and Gary Gallagher in The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (2000) both study the war’s legacy, as Connelly explores the legend of Robert E. Lee, and Gallagher more broadly examines the Lost Cause (Alon Confino, “Traveling as a Culture of Remembrance: Traces of National Socialism in West Germany, 1945-1960,” History and Memory 12 [Fall/Winter 2000]: 92-121; Thomas Lawrence Connelly, The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977]; Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History [Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000]).

[4] John Pendleton Kennedy, Swallow Barn, Or A Sojourn in the Old Dominion (New York: George P. Putnam, 1852), 27.

[5] Such imagery was so powerful that even wartime newspapers picked it up, such as the New York Herald, whose correspondent in 1864 wrote of the South as “a land that is illustrious for the beauty of its sunny skies, the luxuriance of its sugar cane and cotton fields, the fragrance of its orange groves and gardens…the hospitality and grace of its imperial planter…the cool evening air you breathe from their broad verandas.” (New York Herald, 6 March 1864).

[6] John Michael Vlach, The Planter’s Prospect: Privilege and Slavery in Plantation Paintings (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 3. Vlach writes about the work of Lost Cause painters, who joined Lost Cause writer and speakers in promoting a common southern vision.

[7] William Gilmore Simms, Southward Ho! (New York: Redfield, 1854), 7. Mary Lennox, Antebellum; Southern Life as it Was (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co, 1868), 9.

[8] Jubal Early, A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America (Lynchburg, VA: Published by Charles W. Button, 1867), viii. William Harper, The Pro-Slavery Argument, as Maintained by the Most Distinguished Writers of the Southern States: Containing the Several Essays on the Subject, of Chancellor Harper, Governor Hammond, Dr. Simms, and Professor Dew (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, & Co., 1853), 5.

[9] They often reconciled the claim that the white South was deeply and historically devoted to the principle of liberty with its racial bigotry by clinging to a notion of whites’ “herrenvolk democracy,” going so far as to argue that slavery-and racial hierarchy-enabled white southern liberty, by allowing for a “herrenvolk democracy” in the South. In The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914, George Frederickson called attention to this phenomenon in the nineteenth-century South, explaining that “herrenvolk democracy” was a political culture and system under which whites were able to sustain democracy for themselves, while depriving African-Americans of citizenship rights. That is, by oppressing African-Americans, society elevated white southerners and, according to this theory, helped make them content with the political and economic system in which they lived. Frederickson highlighted such a system as part of the slave South and the post-emancipation South, where racial hierarchy still ruled. (George Frederickson The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 [Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1987]).

[10] “Is Southern Civilization Worth Preserving?,” Southern Quarterly Review 3 (January 1851): 193. Albert Taylor Bledsoe, The War Between the States, or, Was Secession a Constitutional Right Previous to the War of 1861-65? (Lynchburg, VA: J. P. Bell Company, Inc., 1915), 133.

[11] See Arthur Bestor, “State Sovereignty and Slavery: A Reinterpretation of Proslavery Constitutional Doctrine, 1846-1860,” Illinois State Historical Society Journal 54 (1961): 121. Also see Jesse T. Carpenter, The South as a Conscious Minority, 1789-1861: A Study in Political Thought (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1963).

[12] Included in Appendix by Alexander H. Stephens: Alexander H. Stephens, A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States: Its Causes, Character, Conduct, and Results (Philadelphia: Zeigler, McCurdy, & Co., vol. I, 1868, vol. II, 1870), II, 672. Albert Bledsoe Taylor, Is Davis a Traitor; or Was Secession a Constitutional Right Previous to the War of 1861? (Baltimore: Innes & Company, 1866), 23, 40, 37, 65, 54-5, 70. Benjamin H. Hill, 23 July 1868 [delivered in a speech in Atlanta], in Benjamin H. Hill, Jr. ed., Senator Benjamin Hill of Georgia: His Life, Speeches, and Writings (Atlanta: T. H. P. Bloodworth, 1893), 318, 314, 759.

[13] Kenneth M. Stampp, “The Concept of a Perpetual Union,” in Stampp, The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 9, 20, 11, 22.

[14] Edmund Ruffin, Anticipations of the Future, to Serve as Lessons for the Present Time(Richmond: J. W. Randolph, 1860), 29. Ruffin went on to lament the long lack of action by the South. On Edmund Ruffin, see Avery O. Craven, Edmund Ruffin, Southerner: A Study in Secession (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1932); Betty L. Mitchell, Edmund Ruffin: A Biography (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981). John C. Calhoun, “Remarks in the U.S. Senate,” 15 February 1833. (at Richmond Daily Dispatch, 19, 26 March 1864. Alexander H. Stephens, A Constitutional View of the Late War, II, 126, 422. Sallie Brock Putnam, Richmond During the War: Four Years of Personal Observation (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 210, 182. Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Is Davis a Traitor, 136.

[15] William Gilmore Simms, The Partisan (Chicago and New York: Belford, Clark, & Co., 1885), 18. [orig. 1835]. John Pendleton Kennedy, Swallow Barn, 8. Henry Timrod, “Christmas,” in Poems of Henry Timrod (Richmond, VA: B. F. Johnson Publishing Company, 1901), 161. Mary Lennox, Antebellum Life as It Was, v.

[16] Several historians have studied the content and motivation that drove postwar southerners as they constructed public memories of the Confederacy and the Civil War: see W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Where These Memories Grow: History, Memory, and Southern Identity (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Alice Fahs and Joan Waugh, eds., The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865-1913 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Gary W. Gallagher, Lee and His Army in Confederate History (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000); Sarah E. Gardner, Blood and Irony: Southern White Women’s Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Paul M. Gaston, The New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970); David Goldfield, Still Fighting the Civil War: The American South and Southern History (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2002); Rollin G. Osterweis, The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865-1900(Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1973); Carol Reardon, Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

[17] Rollin G. Osterweis, “The Myth of the Lost Cause,” in E. A. Pollard, The Lost Cause, xxx, 747, 750.

[18] One example of such an account was the popular 1886 memoir of the Civil War, The Great Conspiracy, by Union veteran John A. Logan. Logan wrote of countering “the power which animated Rebellion [and] the ‘Lost Cause.’” He condemned the antebellum white “Slave Power” and sought to debunk ideas of “States Rights,” as well as old “threats of Nullification, Disunion, and Secession [as] ideas abhorrent to the Patriot’s mind.” Logan also made sure to quote an 1861 Senate speech by Unionist John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, who declared that the North had on its side “the Union, the Constitution, and Free Government.” (John A. Logan, The Great Conspiracy [New York: A. R. Hart & Co., 1886], 673, 464, 652, 354). Frederick Douglass also worked to counter the Lost Cause’s version of the Confederate and southern past, declaring in a speech in 1882, for example, that “I am…for remembering the past” and that “many disguises have been assumed by the South in regard to [the Civil War]. It has been said that it was fighting for independence, but the South was already a sharer in the national independence….Here was a rebellion, not for freedom, but for slavery.” (Frederick Douglass, “We Must Not Abandon the Observance of Decoration Day: An Address Delivered in Rochester, New York, on 30 May 1882,” in John W. Blassingame and John R. McKivigan, eds. [Gerald W. Fulkerson, Textual Editor], The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, Volume 5: 1881-95 [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992], 45, 46-47).

[19] Even New South proponents like John Gordon employed Lost Cause imagery. See Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy, 83.

[20] Pollard, The Lost Cause, iii, 699.


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