That “Lost Cause Myth”

Any historians out there?

Any American Civil War buffs out there?

I have never been a fan of the American Civil War……I preferred to study on the time between 1760 and 1812……to me there was far more stuff happening that needs more study…..especially the years between 1800 and 1811…..

But the renewed situation with the statues and flag and a deeper issue of racism has got me to thinking about  the whole ball of wax.

Especially the so-called “Lost Cause Myth” pertaining to the South……..

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply the Lost Cause, is an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology which advocates the belief that the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one.

This is the so-called history that has been taught in the South for many decades. For those that cannot read or understand a couple of short videos can assist.

These statues that are just now coming down helps to explain the BS behind the Lost Cause Myth…..

For the most part, the statues, now being stashed in the back rooms of museums in the South, are anachronistic, leftover artifacts of a mythology that spread throughout Southern states in the early 20th Century, and which historians refer to as the “Mythology of the Lost Cause.” 

The myth grew out of attempts by a few Confederate army officers to justify their failures and ultimately humiliating defeats in the Civil War. It holds that instead of a doomed insurgency launched by racists in order to prolong slavery, the Civil War was, in fact, a romantic tragedy similar to the Hollywood fable portrayed by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind

The Confederacy, according to this fictional account, fought to defend itself against Northern aggression and to preserve the rights of the besieged Southern states. Proponents insist that the people kidnapped and forced into bondage in the 17th and 18th centuries were most likely better off than they would have been had they remained in Africa. Some may even have preferred slavery, they argue.

Setting the Record Straight

Now ask…how could a defeat been seen as something positive?

Well we can thank Woodrow Wilson for he made the Lost Cause Myth more palatable…..he started naming military bases after defeat Confederate generals…..but why?

Born and raised in Virginia, Wilson was the first American president to hail from the South since the Civil War. He was 8 years old when Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Though Wilson grew up to become a northeastern Ivy League academic, the president of Princeton, and later governor of New Jersey, his southern political base saw him as a champion of the Lost Cause. And he didn’t let them down.

As president, Wilson imposed Jim Crow–style segregation on the federal civil service and the Navy, which had been integrated for the previous century, and when he hosted the first-ever screening of a feature film in the White House, the honor went to The Birth of a Nation. An adaptation of the Thomas Dixon Jr. novel The Clansman, the film brought the myth of the Lost Cause to the silver screen in a racist paean to the defeat of Reconstruction through the terrorist violence of the KKK.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/the-lost-causes-long-legacy/613288/

Here for your education are some of the tenets of the “Lost Cause Myth”……

  • Confederate generals such as Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson represented the virtues of Southern nobility. This nobility was contrast most significantly in comparisons between U.S. Grant and Lee. The Northern generals, were characterized as men with low moral standards who engaged in vicious campaigns against Southern civilians such as Sherman’s March to the Sea and Philip Sheridan’s burning of the Shenandoah Valley in the Valley Campaigns of 1864.
  • Losses on the battlefield were inevitable and were blamed on Northern superiority in resources and manpower.
  • Losses were also the result of betrayal and incompetence on the part of certain subordinates of General Lee, such as General James Longstreet.  Longstreet was the object of blame because of his association with Grant, conversion to the Republican Party, and other actions during Reconstruction.
  • While states’ rights was not emphasized in the declarations of secession, the Lost Cause focused on the defense of states’ rights, rather than preservation of slavery as the primary cause that led eleven Southern states to secede.
  • Secession was seen as a justifiable constitutional response to Northern cultural and economic aggressions against the Southern way of life.
  • Slavery was fictionally presented as a benign institution, and the slaves were treated well and cared for and loyal and faithful to their benevolent masters.

https://civil-war-journeys.org/the_lost_cause.htm

As an amateur historian this situation forces me to look closer at this part of American history……for me it is any excuse for research.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

6 thoughts on “That “Lost Cause Myth”

  1. Excellent post. I’m well aware of this mythology because that is what I was taught–briefly, I might add–in school. Briefly, because we spent about a week of my K-12 schooling on the Civil War. I never bought in to it.
    Yes, states rights were a big part of the divisions and the drumbeat to war–the states right to own slaves. That’s what it was all about. Plus, the invention and improvement of the cotton gin had made cotton and slaves all the more valuable. So yes, economics played a central role–an economy that relied on the backs of slave labor.

  2. Since most southern whites were too poor to own slaves and were at the bottom of the social ladder the myth of the noble South is highly overrated. For most white males it was a matter of stopping “those men from up there comin’ down here to burn down everyone’s house and barn” and completely void of politics, economic and slavery. If we were alive then you’d be drafted into the Mississippi Army and Idda been drafted into the Florida Army. But now by the North Carolina Army. Our beliefs would have nothing to do with it. We would fight to prevent our neighborhood from being burned down.

    1. History is a good thing….but down here they re-write history to make slavery seem less horrific…..to the point that part of the population defends the act. chuq

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