Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply the Lost Cause, is an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology that advocates the belief that the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one. This ideology has furthered the belief that slavery was just and moral, because the enslaved were happy, even grateful, and it also brought economic prosperity. The notion was used to perpetuate racism and racist power structures during the Jim Crow era in the American South. It emphasizes the supposed chivalric virtues of the antebellum South. It thus views the war as a struggle primarily waged to save the Southern way of life and to protect "states' rights", especially the right to secede from the Union. It casts that attempt as faced with "overwhelming Northern aggression". At the same time, it minimizes or completely denies the central role of slavery and white supremacy in the build-up to, and outbreak of, the war.
One particularly intense wave of Lost Cause activity occurred during World War I, as the last Confederate veterans began to die out and a push was made to preserve their memories. A second wave of Lost Cause activity occurred in reaction to growing public support for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through activities such as the construction of prominent Confederate monuments and the writing of school history textbooks, the Lost Cause movement sought to ensure future generations of Southern whites would know about the South's "true" reasons for fighting the war, and therefore continue to support white supremacist policies, such as Jim Crow laws. In that regard, white supremacy is a central feature of the Lost Cause narrative.
Lost Cause narratives typically portray the Confederacy's cause as noble, and its leaders and armies as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry, whose defeat by the Union armies was because the South's greater military skill and courage was overwhelmed by the North's numerical superiority and immense industrial power. Proponents of the Lost Cause movement also condemned the Reconstruction which followed the Civil War, claiming that it was a deliberate strategy by Northern politicians and speculators to exploit the South economically and to gain political power. The Lost Cause theme has also evolved into a major element in defining gender roles in the white South, in terms of preserving family honor and chivalrous traditions. The Lost Cause idea has also inspired the construction of numerous Southern memorials, as well as the shaping of religious attitudes.
They say that history is written by the victors, but the Civil War has been the rare exception. Perhaps the need for the country to stay together made it necessary for the North to sit silently and accept the South's conception of the conflict. In any case, for most of the past 150 years, the South’s version of the war and Reconstruction has held sway in our schools, our literature and, since the dawn of feature films, our movies.
Though the idea of the Lost Cause has more than one origin, its proponents mainly argue that slavery was not the primary cause of the Civil War. In reaching that conclusion, they ignore the declarations of secession by the Confederate states, the declarations of congressmen who left the US Congress to join the Confederacy, and the treatment of slavery in the Confederate Constitution. They also deny or minimize the wartime writings and speeches of Confederate leaders, such as CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens's Cornerstone Speech, instead favoring the leaders' postwar views. Supporters often stress the idea of secession as a defense against a Northern threat to their way of life and say that the threat violated the states' rights guaranteed by the Constitution. They believe that any state had the right to secede, a point strongly denied by the North. The Lost Cause portrayed the South as more adherent to Christian values than the allegedly greedy North. It portrayed slavery as more benevolent than cruel, alleging that it taught Christianity and "civilization". Stories of happy slaves were often used as propaganda in an effort to defend slavery; the United Daughters of the Confederacy had a "Faithful Slave Memorial Committee" and erected the Heyward Shepherd monument in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. These stories would be used to explain slavery to Northerners. Many times they also portrayed slave owners being kind to their slaves. In explaining Confederate defeat, the Lost Cause says that the main factor was not qualitative inferiority in leadership or fighting ability but the massive quantitative superiority of the Yankee industrial machine. At the peak of troop strength in 1863, Union soldiers outnumbered Confederate soldiers by over two to one, and financially the Union had three times the bank deposits of the Confederacy.
The defeat of the Confederacy devastated many Southerners economically, emotionally, and psychologically. Before the war, many white Southerners proudly felt that their rich military tradition would enable them to prevail in the forthcoming conflict. When that did not happen, many white Southerners sought consolation in attributing their loss to factors beyond their control, such as physical size and overwhelming brute force.
The architects of the Lost Cause acted from various motives. They collectively sought to justify their own actions and allow themselves and other former Confederates to find something positive in all-encompassing failure. They also wanted to provide their children and future generations of white Southerners with a 'correct' narrative of the war.
The Lost Cause became a key part of the reconciliation process between North and South around 1900[further explanation needed] and formed the basis of many white Southerners' postbellum war commemorations. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a major organization, has been associated with the Lost Cause for over a century. Yale University history professor Rollin G. Osterweis summarizes the content that pervaded "Lost Cause" writings:
The Legend of the Lost Cause began as mostly a literary expression of the despair of a bitter, defeated people over a lost identity. It was a landscape dotted with figures drawn mainly out of the past: the chivalric planter; the magnolia-scented Southern belle; the good, gray Confederate veteran, once a knight of the field and saddle; and obliging old Uncle Remus. All these, while quickly enveloped in a golden haze, became very real to the people of the South, who found the symbols useful in the reconstituting of their shattered civilization. They perpetuated the ideals of the Old South and brought a sense of comfort to the New.
The Louisiana State University history professor Gaines Foster wrote in 2013:
Scholars have reached a fair amount of agreement about the role the Lost Cause played in those years, although the scholarship on the Lost Cause, like the memory itself, remains contested. The white South, most agree, dedicated enormous effort to celebrating the leaders and common soldiers of the Confederacy, emphasizing that they had preserved their and the South's honor.
The term Lost Cause first appeared in the title of an 1866 book by the Virginian author and journalist Edward A. Pollard, The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates. He promoted many of the aforementioned themes of the Lost Cause. In particular, he dismissed the role of slavery in starting the war and understates the cruelty of American slavery, even promoting it as a way of improving the lives of Africans:
We shall not enter upon the discussion of the moral question of slavery. But we may suggest a doubt here whether that odious term "slavery" which has been so long imposed, by the exaggeration of Northern writers, upon the judgement and sympathies of the world, is properly applied to that system of servitude in the South, which was really the mildest in the world; which did not rest on acts of debasement and disenfranchisement, but elevated the African, and was in the interest of human improvement; and which, by the law of the land, protected the negro in life and limb, and in many personal rights, and, by the practice of the system, bestowed upon him a sum of individual indulgences, which made him altogether the most striking type in the world of cheerfulness and contentment.[full citation needed]
However, it was the articles written by General Jubal A. Early in the 1870s for the Southern Historical Society that firmly established the Lost Cause as a long-lasting literary and cultural phenomenon. The 1881 publication of The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis, a two-volume defense of the Southern cause, provided another important text in the history of the Lost Cause. Davis blamed the enemy for "whatever of bloodshed, of devastation, or shock to republican government has resulted from the war". He charged that the Yankees fought "with a ferocity that disregarded all the laws of civilized warfare". The book remained in print and often served to justify the Southern position and to distance it from slavery.
Early's original inspiration for his views may have come from General Robert E. Lee. When Lee published his farewell order to the Army of Northern Virginia, he consoled his soldiers by speaking of the "overwhelming resources and numbers" that the Confederate army had fought against. In a letter to Early, Lee requested information about enemy strengths from May 1864 to April 1865, the period in which his army was engaged against Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg). Lee wrote: "My only object is to transmit, if possible, the truth to posterity, and do justice to our brave Soldiers." In another letter, Lee wanted all "statistics as regards numbers, destruction of private property by the Federal troops, &c." because he intended to demonstrate the discrepancy in strength between the two armies and believed it would "be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought". Referring to newspaper accounts that accused him of culpability in the loss, he wrote, "I have not thought proper to notice, or even to correct misrepresentations of my words & acts. We shall have to be patient, & suffer for awhile at least.... At present the public mind is not prepared to receive the truth." All of the themes were made prominent by Early and the Lost Cause writers in the 19th century and continued to play an important role throughout the 20th.
In a November 1868 report, U.S. Army general George Henry Thomas, a Virginian who had fought for the Union in the war, noted efforts made by former Confederates to paint the Confederacy in a positive light:
[T]he greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of the virtues of freedom, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for southern independence failed. This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains; a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.— George Henry Thomas, November 1868
Memorial associations such as the United Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Ladies Memorial Associations integrated Lost-Cause themes to help white Confederate-sympathizing Southerners cope with the many changes during the era, most significantly Reconstruction. The institutions have lasted to the present and descendants of Southern soldiers continue to attend their meetings.
In 1879, John McElroy published Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, which strongly criticised the Confederate treatment of prisoners and implied in the preface that the mythology of the Confederacy was well established and that criticism of the otherwise-lionized Confederates was met with disdain:
I know that what is contained herein will be bitterly denied. I am prepared for this. In my boyhood I witnessed the savagery of the Slavery agitation – in my youth I felt the fierceness of the hatred directed against all those who stood by the Nation. I know that hell hath no fury like the vindictiveness of those who are hurt by the truth being told to them.
In 1907, Hunter Holmes McGuire, physician of Stonewall Jackson, published in a book papers sponsored by the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia, supporting the Lost Cause tenets that "slavery [was] not the cause of the war" and that "the North [was] the aggressor in bringing on the war". The book quickly sold out and required a second edition.
Reunification of North and South
Nolan states that the Lost Cause "facilitated the reunification of the North and the South". He quotes Foster, who wrote that "signs of respect from former foes and northern publishers made acceptance of reunion easier. By the mid-eighties, most southerners had decided to build a future within a reunited nation. A few remained irreconcilable, but their influence in southern society declined rapidly." Nolan mentioned a second aspect: "The reunion was exclusively a white man's phenomenon and the price of the reunion was the sacrifice of the African Americans."
The historian Caroline Janney stated:
Providing a sense of relief to white Southerners who feared being dishonored by defeat, the Lost Cause was largely accepted in the years following the war by white Americans who found it to be a useful tool in reconciling North and South.
The Yale historian David W. Blight wrote:
The Lost Cause became an integral part of national reconciliation by dint of sheer sentimentalism, by political argument, and by recurrent celebrations and rituals. For most white Southerners, the Lost Cause evolved into a language of vindication and renewal, as well as an array of practices and public monuments through which they could solidify both their Southern pride and their Americanness. In the 1890s, Confederate memories no longer dwelled as much on mourning or explaining defeat; they offered a set of conservative traditions by which the entire country could gird itself against racial, political, and industrial disorder. And by the sheer virtue of losing heroically the Confederate soldier provided a model of masculine devotion and courage in an age of gender anxieties and ruthless material striving.
In exploring the literature of reconciliation, the historian William Tynes Cowa wrote: "The cult of the Lost Cause was part of a larger cultural project: the reconciliation of North and South after the Civil War." He identified a typical image in postwar fiction: a materialistic, rich Yankee man marrying an impoverished spiritual Southern bride as a symbol of happy national reunion. Examining films and visual art, Gallagher identified the theme of "white people North and South [who] extol the American virtues both sides manifested during the war, to exalt the restored nation that emerged from the conflict, and to mute the role of African Americans".
Bruce Catton argued that the myth or legend helped achieve national reconciliation between North and South. He concluded that "the legend of the lost cause has served the entire country very well", and he went on to say:
The things that were done during the Civil War have not been forgotten, of course, but we now see them through a veil. We have elevated the entire conflict to the realm where it is no longer explosive. It is a part of American legend, a part of American history, a part, if you will, of American romance. It moves men mightily, to this day, but it does not move them in the direction of picking up their guns and going at it again. We have had national peace since the war ended, and we will always have it, and I think the way Lee and his soldiers conducted themselves in the hours of surrender has a great deal to do with it.
Historians have stated that the "Lost Cause" theme helped white Southerners adjust to their new status and move forward into what became known as "the New South". Hillyer states that the Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS), founded by elite white women in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1890s, exemplifies that solution. The CMLS founded the Confederate Museum to document and to defend the Confederate cause and to recall the antebellum mores that the new South's business ethos was thought to be displacing. By focusing on military sacrifice, rather than on grievances regarding the North, the Confederate Museum aided the process of sectional reconciliation, according to Hillyer. By depicting slavery as benevolent, the museum's exhibits reinforced the notion that Jim Crow laws were a proper solution to the racial tensions that had escalated during Reconstruction. Lastly, by glorifying the common soldier and portraying the South as "solid", the museum promoted acceptance of industrial capitalism. Thus the Confederate Museum both critiqued and eased the economic transformations of the New South and enabled Richmond to reconcile its memory of the past with its hopes for the future and to leave the past behind as it developed new industrial and financial roles.
The historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall stated that the Lost-Cause theme was fully developed around 1900 in a mood not of despair but of triumphalism for the New South. Much was left out of the Lost Cause:
[N]either the trauma of slavery for African Americans nor their heroic, heartbreaking freedom struggle found a place in that story. But the Lost Cause narrative also suppressed the memories of many white southerners. Memories of how, under slavery, power bred cruelty. Memories of the bloody, unbearable realities of war. Written out too were the competing memories and identities that set white southerners one against another, pitting the planters against the up-country, Unionists against Confederates, Populists and mill workers against the corporations, home-front women against war-besotted, broken men.
Statues of Moses Jacob Ezekiel
The Virginian Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the most prominent Confederate expatriate, was the only sculptor to have seen action during the Civil War. From his studio in Rome, where a Confederate flag hung proudly, he created a series of statues of Confederate "heroes" which both celebrated the Lost Cause in which he was a "true believer", and set a highly visible model for Confederate monument-erecting in the early 20th century.
"Ezekiel's work is integral to this sympathetic view of the Civil War." His Confederate statues included:
- Virginia Mourning Her Dead (1903), for which Ezekiel declined payment, but another source says that he charged half of his usual fee.:83 The original is at his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, honoring the 10 cadets (students) who died, one (Thomas G. Jefferson, the president's great-great-nephew) in Ezekiel's arms, at the Battle of New Market.:109–111 It stands adjacent to the graves of six of the cadets.:83 In 1914 Ezekiel gave a 3/4-size replica to the Museum of the Confederacy (since 2014 part of the American Civil War Museum) in his native Richmond.:84
- Statue of Stonewall Jackson (1910), West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston, West Virginia. A replica is at the Virginia Military Institute.
- Southern, also called The Lookout (1910), Confederate Cemetery, Johnson's Island, Ohio. Commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy; Ezekiel asked only to be reimbursed the cost of the casting.:94
- Tyler Confederate Memorial Gateway (1913), City Cemetery, Hickman, Kentucky. Commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.:120
- Statue of John Warwick Daniel (c. 1913), Lynchburg, Virginia.
- Confederate Memorial (1914), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, which Ezekiel called New South. "But no monument exemplifies the Lost Cause narrative better than Ezekiel's Confederate Memorial in Arlington, where the woman representing the South appears to be protecting the black figures below." Ezekiel included "faithful slaves" because he wanted to undermine what he called the "lies" told about the South and slavery in... Uncle Tom's Cabin, and wished to rewrite history "correctly" (his word) to depict black slaves' support for the Confederate cause. According to his descendant Judith Ezekiel, who has headed a group of his descendants calling for its removal, "This statue was a very, very deliberate part of revisionist history of racist America." According to historian Gabriel Reich, "the statue functions as propaganda for the Lost Cause.… It couldn't be worse."
Kali Holloway, Director of the Make It Right Project, devoted to the removal of Confederate monuments, points out the influence of Ezekiel:
What stands out most is the lasting impact of Ezekiel's tributes to the Confederacy—his homage to 'Stonewall' Jackson in West Virginia; his 'loyal slave' monument in Arlington; his personification of Virginia mourning for her soldiers who died fighting for a treasonous nation created in defense of black chattel slavery. Confederate monuments, including Ezekiel's highly visible sculptures, were part of a campaign to terrorize black Americans, to romanticize slavery, to promote an ahistorical lie about the honor of the Confederate cause, to cast in granite what Jim Crow codified in law. The consequences of all those things remain with us.
Works of Thomas Dixon Jr.
Dixon, a North Carolinian, has been described as
a professional racist who made his living writing books and plays attacking the presence of African Americans in the United States. A firm believer not only in white supremacy, but also in the "degeneration" of blacks after slavery ended, Dixon thought the ideal solution to America's racial problems was to deport all blacks to Africa.:510
Dixon predicted a "race war" if current trends continued unchecked that he believed white people would surely win, having "3,000 years of civilization in their favor". He also considered efforts to educate and civilize African Americans futile, even dangerous, and said that an African American was "all right" as a slave or laborer "but as an educated man he is a monstrosity". In the short term, Dixon saw white racial prejudice as "self preservation", and he worked to propagate a pro-Southern view of the recent Reconstruction period and spread it nationwide. He decried portrayals of Southerners as cruel and villainous in popular works such as Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), seeking to counteract these portrayals with his own work.:510
He was a famous lecturer, often getting many more invitations to speak than he was capable of accepting. Moreover, he regularly drew very large crowds, larger than any other Protestant preacher in the United States at the time, and newspapers frequently reported on his sermons and addresses.:389:18 He resigned his minister's job so as to devote himself to lecturing full-time and supported his family that way. He had an immense following, and "his name had become a household word.":30 In a typical review, his talk was "decidedly entertaining and instructive.... There were great beds of solid thought, and timely instruction at the bottom."
Between 1899 and 1903, he was heard by more than 5,000,000 people; his play The Clansman was seen by over 4,000,000. He was commonly referred to as the best lecturer in the country.:50–51 He enjoyed a "handsome income" from lectures and royalties on his novels, especially from his share of The Birth of a Nation. He bought a "steam yacht" and named it Dixie.
After seeing a theatrical version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, "he became obsessed with writing a trilogy of novels about the Reconstruction period.":64 The trilogy comprised The Leopard's Spots. A Romance of the White Man's Burden—1865–1900 (1902), The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905), and The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire (1907). "Each of his trilogy novels had developed that black-and-white battle through rape/lynching scenarios that are always represented as prefiguring total racewar, should elite white men fail to resolve the nation's 'Negro Problem'." Dixon also wrote a novel about Abraham Lincoln: The Southerner (1913), "the story of what Davis called 'the real Lincoln'",:80 another, The Man in Grey (1921), on Robert E. Lee, and one on Jefferson Davis, The Victim (1914).
Dixon's method is hard-hitting, sensational, and uncompromising: it becomes easy to understand the reasons for the great popularity of these swiftly moving stories dealing with problems very close to people who had experienced the Civil War and Reconstruction; and thousands of persons who had experienced Reconstruction were still alive when the trilogy of novels was published. Dixon's literary skill in evoking old memories and deep-seated prejudices made the novelist a respected spokesman—a champion for people who held bitter resentments.":75
Dixon's most famous novels, The Leopard's Spots and The Clansman, and their even more famous and influential product, The Birth of a Nation (1915), the first film shown in the White House, shown the next day to the entire Supreme Court, 38 Senators, and the Secretary of the Navy,:171–172 are discussed below.
From the 20th century to the present
The basic assumptions of the Lost Cause have proved durable for many in the modern South. The Lost Cause tenets frequently emerge during controversies surrounding public display of the Confederate flag and various state flags. The historian John Coski noted that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the "most visible, active, and effective defender of the flag" "carried forward into the twenty-first century, virtually unchanged, the Lost Cause historical interpretations and ideological vision formulated at the turn of the twentieth". Coski wrote concerning "the flag wars of the late twentieth century":
From the ... early 1950s, SCV officials defended the integrity of the battle flag against trivialization and against those who insisted that its display was unpatriotic or racist. SCV spokesmen reiterated the consistent argument that the South fought a legitimate war for independence, not a war to defend slavery, and that the ascendant "Yankee" view of history falsely vilified the South and led people to misinterpret the battle flag.
The Confederate States used several flags during its existence from 1861 to 1865. Since the end of the American Civil War, the personal and official use of Confederate flags and flags derived from them has continued under considerable controversy. The second state flag of Mississippi, adopted in 1894 after the state's so-called "Redemption" and relinquished in 2020 during the George Floyd protests, included the Confederate battle flag. The city flag of Trenton, Georgia, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, was adopted in 2001 as a protest against the Georgia General Assembly voting to significantly reduce the size of the Confederate battle flag on their state flag. The city flag of Trenton greatly resembles the former state flag of Georgia.
On March 23, 2015, a Confederate-flag-related case reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans centered on whether or not the state of Texas could deny a request by the SCV for vanity license plates that incorporated a Confederate battle flag. The Court heard the case on March 23, 2015. On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 vote, held that Texas was entitled to reject the SCV proposal.
In October 2015, outrage erupted online following the discovery of a Texan school's geography textbook, which described slaves as "immigrants" and "workers". The publisher, McGraw-Hill, announced that it would change the wording.
Charles Wilson argues that many white Southerners, most of whom were conservative and pious evangelical Protestants, sought reasons for the Confederacy's defeat in religion. They felt that the Confederacy's defeat in the war was God's punishment for their sins and motivated by this belief, they increasingly turned to religion as their source of solace. The postwar era saw the birth of a regional "civil religion" which was heavily laden with symbolism and ritual; clergymen were this new religion's primary celebrants. Wilson says that the ministers constructed
Lost Cause ritualistic forms that celebrated their regional mythological and theological beliefs. They used the Lost Cause to warn Southerners of their decline from past virtue, to promote moral reform, to encourage conversion to Christianity, and to educate the young in Southern traditions; in the fullness of time, they related to American values.
On both a cultural and religious level, white southerners tried to defend what their defeat in 1865 made impossible for them to defend on a political level. The Lost Cause, the South's defeat in a holy war, left southerners to face guilt, doubt, and the triumph of evil and they faced them by forming what C. Vann Woodward called a uniquely-Southern sense of the tragedy of history.
Poole stated that in fighting to defeat the Republican Reconstruction government in South Carolina in 1876, white Democrats portrayed the Lost Cause scenario through "Hampton Days" celebrations and shouted, "Hampton or Hell!" They staged the contest between Reconstruction opponent and Democratic candidate Wade Hampton and incumbent Governor Daniel H. Chamberlain as a religious struggle between good and evil and called for "redemption". Indeed, throughout the South, the conservatives who overthrew Reconstruction were frequently called "Redeemers," echoing Christian theology.
Among writers on the Lost Cause, gender roles were a contested domain. Men typically honored the role which women played during the war by noting their total loyalty to the cause. Women, however, developed a much different approach to the cause by emphasizing female activism, initiative, and leadership. They explained that when all of the men left, the women took command, found substitute foods, rediscovered their old traditional skills with the spinning wheel when factory cloth became unavailable, and ran all of the farm or plantation operations. They faced apparent danger without having men to perform the traditional role of being their protectors.
The popularization of the Lost Cause interpretation and the erection of monuments was primarily the work of Southern women, the center of which was the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).:198
UDC leaders were determined to assert women's cultural authority over virtually every representation of the region's past. They did this by lobbying for the creation of state archives and the construction of state museums, the preservation of national historic sites, and the construction of historic highways; compiling genealogies; interviewing former soldiers; writing history textbooks; and erecting monuments, which now moved triumphantly from cemeteries into town centers. More than half a century before women's history and public history emerged as fields of inquiry and action, the UDC, along with other women's associations, strove to etch women's accomplishments into the historical record and take history to the people, from the nursery and the fireside to the schoolhouse and the public square.— Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
The duty of memorializing the Confederate dead was a major activity for Southerners who were devoted to the Lost Cause, and chapters of the UDC played a central role in performing it. The UDC was especially influential across the South in the early 20th century, where its main role was to preserve and uphold the memory of Confederate veterans, especially the husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers who died in the war. Its long-term impact was to promote the Lost Cause image of the antebellum plantation South as an idealized society which was crushed by the forces of Yankee modernization, which also undermined traditional gender roles. In Missouri, a border state, the UDC was active in setting up its own system of memorials.
The Southern states set up their own pension systems for veterans and their dependents, especially for widows, since none of them was eligible to receive pensions under the federal pension system. The pensions were designed to honor the Lost Cause and reduce the severe poverty which was prevalent in the region. Male applicants for pensions had to demonstrate their continued loyalty to the "lost cause". Female applicants for pensions were rejected if their moral reputations were in question.
In Natchez, Mississippi, the local newspapers and veterans played a role in the maintenance of the Lost Cause. However, elite white women were central in establishing memorials such as the Civil War Monument which was dedicated on Memorial Day 1890. The Lost Cause enabled women noncombatants to lay a claim to the central event in their redefinition of Southern history.
The UDC was quite prominent but not at all unique in its appeal to upscale white Southern women. "The number of women's clubs devoted to filiopietism and history was staggering," stated historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage. He noted two typical club women in Texas and Mississippi who between them belonged to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the Daughters of the Pilgrims, the Daughters of the War of 1812, the Daughters of Colonial Governors, and the Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, the Order of the First Families of Virginia, and the Colonial Dames of America as well as a few other historically-oriented societies. Comparable men, on the other hand, were much less interested in belonging to historical organizations, instead, they devoted themselves to secret fraternal societies and emphasized athletic, political, and financial exploits in order to prove their manhood. Brundage notes that after women's suffrage came in 1920, the historical role of the women's organizations eroded.
In their heyday in the first two decades of the 20th century, Brundage concluded:
These women architects of whites' historical memory, by both explaining and mystifying the historical roots of white supremacy and elite power in the South, performed a conspicuous civic function at a time of heightened concern about the perpetuation of social and political hierarchies. Although denied the franchise, organized white women nevertheless played a dominant role in crafting the historical memory that would inform and undergird southern politics and public life.
[W. H. F. Lee] objected to the phrase too often used—South as well as North—that the Confederates fought for what they thought was right. They fought for what they knew was right. They, like the Greeks, fought for home, the graves of their sires, and their native land.— New York Times, "Annual Meeting of the Virginia Division", October 29, 1875
[The] servile instincts [of slaves] rendered them contented with their lot, and their patient toil blessed the land of their abode with unmeasured riches. Their strong local and personal attachment secured faithful service ... never was there happier dependence of labor and capital on each other. The tempter came, like the serpent of Eden, and decoyed them with the magic word of 'freedom' ... He put arms in their hands, and trained their humble but emotional natures to deeds of violence and bloodshed, and sent them out to devastate their benefactors.
- Just as states had chosen to join the federal union, they can also choose to withdraw.
- Defense of states' rights, rather than the preservation of chattel slavery, was the primary cause that led eleven Southern states to secede from the Union, thus precipitating the War.
- Secession was a justifiable and constitutional response to Northern cultural and economic aggression against the superior, chivalric Southern way of life, which included slavery. The South was fighting for its independence. Many still want it.
- The North was not attacking the South out of a pure, though misguided motive: to end slavery. Its motives were economic and venal.
- Slavery was not only a benign institution but a "positive good". It was not based on economic greed, and slaves were happy and loyal to their kind masters (see: Heyward Shepherd). Slavery was good for the slaves, whose lives were much better than they would be in Africa, or what they would have as free blacks in the North, where there were numerous anti-black riots. (Blacks were perceived as foreigners, immigrants taking jobs away from whites by working for less, and also as dangerously sexual.) It was not characterized by racism, rape, barbarous working conditions, brutality, whipping, forced separation of families, and humiliation.
- Allgood identifies a Southern aristocratic chivalric ideal, typically called "the Southern Cavalier ideal", in the Lost Cause. It especially appeared in studies of Confederate partisans who fought behind Union lines, such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, Turner Ashby, John Singleton Mosby, and John Hunt Morgan. Writers stressed how they embodied courage in the face of heavy odds, as well as horsemanship, manhood, and martial spirit.
- Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Stonewall Jackson represented the virtues of Southern nobility and fought bravely and fairly. On the other hand, most Northern generals were characterized as possessing low moral standards, because they subjected the Southern civilian population to indignities like Sherman's March to the Sea and Philip Sheridan's burning of the Shenandoah Valley in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Union General Ulysses S. Grant is often portrayed as an alcoholic.
- Losses on the battlefield were inevitable, given the North's superiority in resources and manpower. Battlefield losses were also sometimes the result of betrayal and incompetence on the part of certain subordinates of General Lee, such as General James Longstreet, who was reviled for doubting Lee at Gettysburg.
- The Lost Cause focuses mainly on Lee and the Eastern Theater of operations, in northern Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It usually takes Gettysburg as the turning point of the war, ignoring the Union victories in Tennessee and Mississippi, and that nothing could stop the Union army's humiliating advance through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, ending with the Army of Northern Virginia's surrender at Appomattox.
- General Sherman destroyed property out of meanness. Burning Columbia, South Carolina, before the war a hotbed of secession, served no military purpose. It was intended only to humiliate and impoverish.
- Giving the vote to the newly freed slaves was a political disaster. They were incapable of voting intelligently and were easily bribed or misled. Reconstruction was a disaster, only benefitting Northern scoundrels (scalawags). It took great effort by chivalrous Southern gentlemen to reestablish white dominance, which was, among other things, what God wanted.
The most powerful images and symbols of the Lost Cause were Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Pickett's Charge. David Ulbrich wrote, "Already revered during the war, Robert E. Lee acquired a divine mystique within Southern culture after it. Remembered as a leader whose soldiers would loyally follow him into every fight no matter how desperate, Lee emerged from the conflict to become an icon of the Lost Cause and the ideal of the antebellum Southern gentleman, an honorable and pious man who selflessly served Virginia and the Confederacy. Lee's tactical brilliance at Second Bull Run and Chancellorsville took on legendary status, and despite his accepting full responsibility for the defeat at Gettysburg, Lee remained largely infallible for Southerners and was spared criticism even from historians until recent times." Victor Davis Hansen points out that Albert Sidney Johnston was the first officer to be appointed a full general by Jefferson Davis and to lead Confederate forces in the Western Theater. His death during the first day of the battle at Shiloh arguably led to the Confederacy's defeat in that conflict.
In terms of Lee's subordinates, the key villain in Jubal Early's view was General Longstreet. Although Lee took all responsibility for the defeats (particularly the one at Gettysburg), Early's writings place the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg squarely on Longstreet's shoulders by accusing him of failing to attack early in the morning of July 2, 1863, as instructed by Lee. In fact, however, Lee never expressed dissatisfaction with the second-day actions of his "Old War Horse". Longstreet was widely disparaged by Southern veterans because of his postwar cooperation with US President Ulysses S. Grant with whom he had shared a close friendship before the war and for joining the Republican Party. Grant, in rejecting the Lost Cause arguments, said in an 1878 interview that he rejected the notion that the South had simply been overwhelmed by numbers. Grant wrote, "This is the way public opinion was made during the war and this is the way history is made now. We never overwhelmed the South.... What we won from the South we won by hard fighting." Grant further noted that when comparing resources, the "4,000,000 of negroes" who "kept the farms, protected the families, supported the armies, and were really a reserve force" were not treated as a southern asset.
"War of Northern Aggression"
One essential element of the Lost Cause movement was that the act of secession itself had been legitimate; otherwise, all of the Confederacy's leading figures would have become traitors to the United States. To legitimize the Confederacy's rebellion, Lost Cause intellectuals challenged the legitimacy of the federal government and the actions of Abraham Lincoln as US President. That was exemplified in "Force or Consent as the Basis of American Government" by Mary Scrugham in which she presented frivolous arguments against the legality of Lincoln's presidency. They include his receiving a minority and unmentioned plurality of the popular vote in the 1860 election and the false assertion that he made his position on slavery ambiguous. The accusations, though thoroughly refuted, gave rise to the belief that the North initiated the Civil War, making a designation of "The War of Northern Aggression" possible as one of the names of the American Civil War.
Thomas Dixon Jr.'s novels
The Leopard's Spots
On the title page, Dixon cited Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian change his color, or the Leopard his spots?" He argued that just as the leopard cannot change his spots, the Negro cannot change his nature. The novel aimed to reinforce the superiority of the "Anglo-Saxon" race and advocate either for white dominance of black people or for the separation of the two races.:68 According to historian and Dixon biographer Richard Allen Cook, "the Negro, according to Dixon, is a brute, not a citizen: a child of a degenerate race brought from Africa.":68 Dixon expounded the views in The Times of Philadelphia while he discussed the novel in 1902: "The negro is a human donkey. You can train him, but you can't make of him a horse." Dixon described the "towering figure of the freed negro" as "growing more and more ominous, until its menace overshadows the poverty, the hunger, the sorrows and the devastation of the South, throwing the blight of its shadow over future generations, a veritable black death for the land and its people." Using characters from Uncle Tom's Cabin, he shows the "happy slave" who is now, free and manipulated by carpetbaggers, unproductive and disrespectful, and he believed that freedmen constantly pursued sexual relations with white women.:68 In Dixon's work, the heroic Ku Klux Klan protects American women. "It is emphatically a man's book," said Dixon to The Times.
The novel, which "blazes with oratorial fireworks", "attracted attention as soon as it came from the press", and more than 100,000 copies were quickly sold. "Sales eventually passed the million mark; numerous foreign translations of the work appeared; and Dixon's fame was international.":70
Dixon insisted that the novel was based on reality:
In an author's note... Mr. Dixon says: "In answer to hundreds of letters I wish to state that all of the incidents used in Book 1, which is properly the prologue of my story, were selected from authentic records, or came within my personal knowledge. The only serious liberty I have taken with history is to tone down the facts — to make them credible in fiction.
In The Clansman, the best known of the three novels, Dixon similarly claimed, "I have sought to preserve in this romance both the letter and the spirit of this remarkable period.... The Clansman develops the true story of the 'Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy', which overturned the Reconstruction regime."
"Lincoln is pictured as a kind, sympathetic man who is trying bravely to sustain his policies despite the pressures upon him to have a more vindictive attitude toward the Southern states.":71 Reconstruction was an attempt by Augustus Stoneman, a thinly-veiled reference to US Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennnsylvania, "the greatest and vilest man who ever trod the halls of the American Congress",:71 to ensure that the Republican Party would stay in power by securing the Southern black vote. Stoneman's hatred for US President Andrew Johnson stems from Johnson's refusal to disenfranchise Southern whites. Stoneman's anger towards former slaveholders is intensified after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Stoneman vows revenge on the South. His programs strip away the land owned by whites and give it to former slaves, as with the traditional idea of "forty acres and a mule". Men claiming to represent the government confiscate the material wealth of the South and destroy plantation-owning families. Finally, the former slaves are taught that they are superior to their former owners and should rise against them. These alleged injustices were the impetus for the creation of the Ku Klux Klan. "Mr. Dixon's purpose here is to show that the original formers of the Ku Klux Klan were modern knights errant, taking the only means at hand to right wrongs." Dixon's father belonged to the Klan, and his maternal uncle and boyhood idol,:21 Col. Leroy McAfee, to whom The Clansman is dedicated, was a regional leader or, in the words of the dedication, "Grand Titan of the invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan".
The depiction of the Klan's burning of crosses, as shown in the illustrations of the first edition, is an innovation of Dixon. It had not previously been used by the Klan, but was later taken up by them.
"In Dixon's passionate prose, the book also treats at considerable length the poverty, shame, and degradation suffered by the Southerners at the hands of the Negroes and unscrupulous Northeners.":72 Martial law is declared, US troops are sent in, as they were during Reconstruction. "The victory of the South was complete when the Klan defeats the federal troups throughout the state.":72
To publicize his views further, Dixon rewrote The Clansman as a play. Like the novel, it was a great commercial success; there were multiple touring companies presenting the play simultaneously in different cities. Sometimes, it was banned. Birth of a Nation is actually based on the play, which was unpublished until 2007,[clarification needed] rather than directly on the novel.
The Birth of a Nation
Another prominent and influential popularizer of the Lost Cause perspective was D. W. Griffith's highly-successful The Birth of a Nation (1915), which was based on Dixon's novel. Noting that Dixon and Griffith collaborated on Birth of a Nation, Blight wrote:
Dixon's vicious version of the idea that blacks had caused the Civil War by their very presence, and that Northern radicalism during Reconstruction failed to understand that freedom had ushered blacks as a race into barbarism, neatly framed the story of the rise of heroic vigilantism in the South. Reluctantly, Klansmen—white men—had to take the law into their own hands in order to save Southern white womanhood from the sexual brutality of black men. Dixon's vision captured the attitude of thousands and forged in story form a collective memory of how the war may have been lost but Reconstruction was won—by the South and a reconciled nation. Riding as masked cavalry, the Klan stopped corrupt government, prevented the anarchy of 'Negro rule' and most of all, saved white supremacy.
In both The Clansman and the film, the Klan is portrayed as continuing the noble traditions of the antebellum South and the heroic Confederate soldier by defending Southern culture in general and Southern womanhood in particular against rape and depredations at the hands of the freedmen and Yankee carpetbaggers during Reconstruction. Dixon's narrative was so readily adopted that the film has been credited with the revival of the Klan in the 1910s and 1920s. The second Klan, which Dixon denounced, reached a peak membership of 2-5 million members. The film's legacy is widereaching in the history of American racism, and even the now-iconic cross burnings of the KKK were based on Dixon's novel and the film made of it. (The first KKK did not burn crosses, which was originally a Scottish tradition, "Crann Tara", designed to gather clans for war.)
Later literature and films
The romanticization of the Lost Cause is captured in film, such as The Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind, Song of the South, and Tennessee Johnson—the latter of which the San Francisco Chronicle called "the height of Southern mythmaking". Gods and Generals reportedly lionizes Jackson and Lee. CNN reported that these films "recast the antebellum South as a moonlight and magnolia paradise of happy slaves, affectionate slave owners and villainous Yankees".
Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind has almost certainly done its ideological work. It has sealed in popular imaginations a fascinated nostalgia for the glamorous southern plantation house and ordered hierarchical society in which slaves are 'family,' and there is a mystical bond between the landowner and the rich soil those slaves work for him. It has spoken eloquently—albeit from an elitist perspective—of the grand themes (war, love, death, conflicts of race, class, gender, and generation) that have crossed continents and cultures.
Blight also wrote:
From this combination of Lost Cause voices, a reunited America arose pure, guiltless, and assured that the deep conflicts in its past had been imposed upon it by otherworldly forces. The side that lost was especially assured that its cause was true and good. One of the ideas the reconciliationist Lost Cause instilled deeply into the national culture is that even when Americans lose, they win. Such was the message, the indomitable spirit, that Margaret Mitchell infused into her character Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind ...
Southerners were portrayed as noble, heroic figures, living in a doomed romantic society that rejected the realistic advice offered by the Rhett Butler character and never understood the risk that they were taking in going to war.
Song of the South
The 1946 Disney film Song of the South is the first to have combined live actors with animated shorts. In the framing story, the actor James Baskett played Uncle Remus, a former slave who apparently is full of joy and wisdom despite having lived part of his life in slavery. There is a common misconception that the story takes place in the antebellum period, and that the African-American characters are slaves. One critic said, "Like other similar films of the period also dealing with the antebellum South, the slaves in the film are all good-natured, subservient, annoyingly cheerful, content and always willing to help a white person in need with some valuable life lesson along the way. In fact, they're never called slaves, but they come off more like neighborly workers lending a helping hand for some kind, benevolent plantation owners." Disney has never released it on DVD and the film has been withheld from Disney+. It was released on VHS in the UK several times, most recently in 2000.
Gods and Generals
The 2003 Civil War film Gods and Generals, based on Jeff Shaara's 1996 novel of the same name, is widely viewed as championing the Lost Cause ideology by creating a presentation that was favorable to the Confederacy and lionizes Generals Jackson and Lee.
Writing in the Journal of American History, the historian Steven E. Woodworth derided the movie as a modern day telling of Lost Cause mythology. Woodworth called the movie "the most pro-Confederate film since Birth of a Nation, a veritable celluloid celebration of slavery and treason". He summed up his reasons for disliking the movie:
Gods and Generals brings to the big screen the major themes of Lost Cause mythology that professional historians have been working for half a century to combat. In the world of Gods and Generals, slavery has nothing to do with the Confederate cause. Instead, the Confederates are nobly fighting for, rather than against, freedom, as viewers are reminded again and again by one white southern character after another.
Woodworth criticized the portrayal of slaves as being "generally happy" with their condition. He also criticized the relative lack of attention given to the motivations of Union soldiers fighting in the war. He excoriates the film for allegedly implying, in agreement with Lost Cause mythology, that the South was more "sincerely Christian". Woodworth concluded that the film through "judicial omission" presents "a distorted view of the Civil War".
The historian William B. Feis similarly criticized the director's decision "to champion the more simplistic-and sanitized-interpretations found in post-war "Lost Cause" mythology". The film critic Roger Ebert described the movie as "a Civil War movie that Trent Lott might enjoy" and said of its Lost Cause themes, "If World War II were handled this way, there'd be hell to pay."
The consensus of film critics for the movie was that it had a firm "pro-confederate slant".
Professor Gallagher contended that Douglas Southall Freeman's definitive four-volume biography of Lee, published in 1934, "cemented in American letters an interpretation of Lee very close to Early's utterly heroic figure". In that work, Lee's subordinates were primarily to blame for errors that lost battles. While Longstreet was the most common target of such attacks, others came under fire as well. Richard Ewell, Jubal Early, J. E. B. Stuart, A. P. Hill, George Pickett, and many others were frequently attacked and blamed by Southerners in an attempt to deflect criticism from Lee.
His [Jefferson Davis's] enemies are devils, and his friends, like Davis himself, have been canonized. Strode not only attempts to sanctify Davis but also the Confederate point of view, and this study should be relished by those vigorously sympathetic with the Lost Cause.
While not limited to the American South specifically, the Stop the Steal movement in the wake of the 2020 US presidential election has been interpreted as a reemergence of the Lost Cause idea and a manifestation of white backlash.
Contemporary historians overwhelmingly agree that secession was motivated by slavery. There were numerous causes for secession, but preservation and expansion of slavery was easily the most important of them. The confusion may come from blending the causes of secession with the causes of the war, which were separate but related issues. (Lincoln entered a military conflict not to free the slaves but to put down a rebellion or, as he put it, to preserve the Union.) According to the historian Kenneth M. Stampp, each side supported states' rights or federal power only when it was convenient for it to do so. Stampp also cited Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens's A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States as an example of a Southern leader who said that slavery was the "cornerstone of the Confederacy" when the war began and later said after his defeat that the war had not been about slavery but states' rights. According to Stampp, Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the 'Lost Cause' myth.
Similarly, the historian William C. Davis explained the Confederate Constitution's protection of slavery at the national level:
To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states' rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all.
Davis further noted, "Causes and effects of the war have been manipulated and mythologized to suit political and social agendas, past and present." The historian David Blight said that "its use of white supremacy as both means and ends" has been a key characteristic of the Lost Cause. The historian Allan Nolan wrote:
... the Lost Cause legacy to history is a caricature of the truth. The caricature wholly misrepresents and distorts the facts of the matter. Surely it is time to start again in our understanding of this decisive element of our past and to do so from the premises of history unadulterated by the distortions, falsehoods, and romantic sentimentality of the Myth of the Lost Cause.
The historian William C. Davis labeled many of the myths which surround the war "frivolous" and these myths include attempts to rename the war by "Confederate partisans." He also stated that names such as the War of Northern Aggression and the War Between the States, the expression which was coined by Alexander Stephens, were just attempts to deny the fact that the American Civil War was an actual civil war.
The historian A. Cash Koiniger theorized that Gary Gallagher has mischaracterized films which depict the Lost Cause. He wrote that Gallagher
... concedes that "Lost Cause themes" (with the important exception of minimizing the importance of slavery) are based on historical truths (p. 46). Confederate soldiers were often outnumbered, ragged, and hungry; southern civilians did endure much material deprivation and a disproportionate amount of bereavement; U.S. forces did wreck [sic] havoc on southern infrastructure and private property and the like, yet whenever these points appear in films Gallagher considers them motifs "celebratory" of the Confederacy (p. 81).
- Blandford Church
- Confederate Memorial Day
- Confederate Memorial Hall
- Confederate Memorial Hall Museum
- Dolchstoßlegende – German pseudo-historical explanation for losing WWI
- Historical revisionism
- Kappa Alpha Order
- List of Confederate monuments and memorials
- Naming the American Civil War
- Senator Beauregard Claghorn
- Solid South
- Southern Democrats
- White nationalism
- Duggan, Paul (November 28, 2018). "The Confederacy Was Built on Slavery. How Can So Many Southern Whites Think Otherwise?". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
- "The Black and the Gray: An Interview with Tony Horwitz". Southern Cultures. 4: 5–15. 1998. doi:10.1353/scu.1998.0065.
- Associated Press, "Confederate Symbols Are Making Way for Better Things," Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2021, Page A-2
- Domby, Adam H. (February 11, 2020). The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy In Confederate Memory. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0-8139-4376-3. OCLC 1151896244.
- Gallagher, Gary W.; Nolan, Alan T., eds. (2000). The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. Indiana UP. ISBN 978-0-253-33822-8.
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- Karen L. Cox, Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida, 2003)
- Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920 (University of Georgia Press, 2011)
- LaSalle, Mick (July 24, 2015). "Romanticizing Confederate cause has no place onscreen". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
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- Rollin G. Osterweis, The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900 (1973) p. ix
- Gaines Foster, "Civil War Sesquicentennial: The Lost Cause," Civil War Book Review (Fall 2013) online
- Ulbrich, p. 1221.
- Edward A. Pollard, The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates (1866)
- Gaines M. Foster (1987). Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913. Oxford UP. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-19-977210-0.
- Gallagher, p. 12.
- Gallagher and Nolan p. 43.
- Thomas, George Henry (December 4, 1868). "The Department Reports". Sacramento Daily Union. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- Ulbrich, p. 1222.
- Janney, p. 40.
- McElroy, John. Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, Fifteen Months a Guest of the So-called Southern Confederacy : A Private Soldier's Experience in Richmond, Andersonville, Savannah, Millen, Blackshear, and Florence. Toledo: D. R. Locke, 1879.
- McGuire, Hunter; Christian, George L. (1907). The Confederate cause and conduct in the war between the states, as set forth in the reports of the History Committee of the Grand Camp, C.V., of Virginia, and other Confederate papers (2nd ed.). Richmond, Virginia: L. H. Jenkins.
- "Great Day for the South," St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, June 4, 1891, image 2
- Gallagher, Gary W.; Nolan, Alan T., eds. (2000). The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. Indiana UP. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-253-33822-8.
- Gaines M. Foster (1987). Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913. Oxford UP. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-19-987870-3.
- Gallagher, Gary W.; Nolan, Alan T., eds. (2000). The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-253-33822-8.
- Caroline E. Janney, "The Lost Cause." Encyclopedia Virginia (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2009) accessed 26 July 2015
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. p. 266. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- William Tynes Cowa (2013). The Slave in the Swamp: Disrupting the Plantation Narrative. Routledge. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-135-47052-4.
- Gary W. Gallagher (2008). Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War. U of North Carolina Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-8078-8625-0.
- Bruce Catton, Reflections on the Civil War (1981) quoted in Caroline E. Janney, "The Lost Cause" In Encyclopedia Virginia (2015) online.
- Reiko Hillyer, "Relics of Reconciliation: The Confederate Museum and Civil War Memory in the New South," Public Historian, Nov 2011, Vol. 33 Issue 4, pp. 35–62,
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd (1998). ""You Must Remember This": Autobiography as Social Critique". The Journal of American History. 85 (2): 439–465. doi:10.2307/2567747. JSTOR 2567747.
- Moehlman, Lara (September 21, 2018). "The Not-So Lost Cause of Moses Ezekiel". Moment.
- Cohen, Stan; Gibson, Keith (2007). Moses Ezekiel : Civil War soldier, renowned sculptor. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-57510-131-6.
- Ezekiel, Moses Jacob (1975). Gutmann, Joseph; Chyet, Stanley F. (eds.). Memoirs from the Baths of Diocletian. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-1525-5.
- "Stonewall Jackson". Archived from the original on February 26, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- Confederate Soldiers Memorial from Arlington National Cemetery.
- Herbert, Hilary A. (1915). History of the Arlington Confederate Monument. Richmond, Virginia: United Daughters of the Confederacy. p. 66.
- Holloway, Kali (October 19, 2018). "The Not-So-Lost Cause of Moses Ezekiel". Independent Media Institute.
- Benbow, Mark E. (October 2010). "Birth of a Quotation: Woodrow Wilson and 'Like Writing History with Lightning'". Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. 9 (4): 509–533. doi:10.1017/S1537781400004242. JSTOR 20799409.
- "Sees Awful Race War". South Bend Tribune. February 23, 1903. p. 1.
- "(Untitled)". Chariton Courier. Keytesville, Missouri. February 27, 1903. p. 4.
- "Race Hatred". Mitchell Capital. Mitchell, South Dakota. June 12, 1903.
- "Thomas Dixon Jr.'s The Leopard's Spots". Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Kansas). February 14, 1903. p. 6.
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- Gillespie, Michele; Hall, Randal L. (2009). "Introduction". Thomas Dixon Jr. and the birth of modern America. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-3532-7.
- "Tells 'Em". Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska). October 31, 1900. p. 1.
- "Advertisement for the Clansman". Bisbee Daily Review, (Bisbee, Arizona). December 2, 1908. p. 4.
- Cook, Raymond Allen (1974). Thomas Dixon. New York: Twayne. OCLC 1036955650.
- Weisenburger, Steven (2004). Introduction to Sins of the Father. University Press of Kentucky. p. xxiv. ISBN 0-8131-9117-3.
- Cook, Raymond A. (1968). Fire from the Flint: The Amazing Careers of Thomas Dixon. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J. F. Blair. OCLC 729785733.
- "'The Birth of a Nation' Shown". Washington Evening Star. February 20, 1915. p. 12.
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- Coski pp. 192–93
- Coski p. 193. Coski (p. 62) also wrote "Just as the battle flag became during the war the most important emblem of Confederate nationalism, so did it become during the memorial period [the late 19th Century through the 1920s] the symbolic embodiment of the Lost Cause.":
- "Confederate banner still flying high in Trenton, Ga". timesfreepress.com.
- "Trenton, Georgia - Your City For Family Living". trentonga.gov. Archived from the original on July 1, 2020.
- "Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
- "Why Calling Slaves 'Workers' Is More Than An Editing Error". Npr.org. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- Fernandez, Manny; Hauser, Christine (October 5, 2015). "Texas Mother Teaches Textbook Company a Lesson on Accuracy". Nytimes.com. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- Charles Reagan Wilson (1983). Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920. University of Georgia Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8203-0681-0.
- Wilson, Charles Reagan (May 1980). "The Religion of the Lost Cause: Ritual and Organization of the Southern Civil Religion, 1865-1920". The Journal of Southern History. 46 (2): 219–238. doi:10.2307/2208359. JSTOR 2208359.
- Poole, W. Scott (August 2002). "Religion, Gender, and the Lost Cause in South Carolina's 1876 Governor's Race: "Hampton or Hell!"". The Journal of Southern History. 68 (3): 573–598. doi:10.2307/3070159. JSTOR 3070159.
- Stephen E. Cresswell, Rednecks, redeemers, and race: Mississippi after Reconstruction (2006)
- Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913 (1985) p. 30
- Nelson, David (2018). "Battles of Olustee. Civil War Memory in Florida". In Weitz, Seth A.; Sheppard, Jonathan C. (eds.). A Forgotten Front: Florida during the Civil War Era. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 196–226. ISBN 978-0-8173-1982-3 – via Project MUSE.
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. "You must remember this": Autobiography as social critique. p. 450.
- Cynthia Mills, and Pamela Hemenway Simpson, eds. Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (U. of Tennessee Press, 2003)
- Karen L. Cox, Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and preservation of Southern Culture (University Press of Florida, 2003) pp. 1–7
- Megan B. Boccardi, "Remembering in black and white: Missouri women's memorial work 1860–1910" (PhD. Dissertation), University of Missouri–Columbia, 2011, online.
- Elna C. Green, "Protecting confederate soldiers and mothers: Pensions, gender, and the welfare state in the US south, a case study from Florida." Journal of Social History (2006) 39#4 pp: 1079–1104. online
- Melody Kubassek, "Ask Us Not to Forget: The Lost Cause in Natchez, Mississippi". Southern Studies, 1992, Vol. 3 Issue 3, pp. 155–70.
- W. Fitzhugh Brundage, "White Women and the Politics of Historical Memory in the New South, 1880–1920." in Jane Dailey, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, & Bryant Simon, eds., Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (Princeton UP, 2000) pp. 115–39. esp. 119, 123, 131
- Brundage, "White Women and the Politics of Historical Memory in the New South, pp. 115–16
- Radway, Janice A., ed. (2009). American Studies: An Anthology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 529. ISBN 978-1-4051-1351-9.
- Janney, Caroline E. "The Lost Cause" (article). Encyclopedia Virginia(2009).
- Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913 (1988). pp. 4–8
- Gallagher and Nolan p. 16. Nolan writes, "Given the central role of African Americans in the sectional conflict, it is surely not surprising that Southern rationalizations have extended to characterizations of the persons of these people. In the legend there exist two prominent images of the black slaves. One is of the "faithful slave"; the other is what William Garrett Piston calls "the happy darky stereotype".
- Colt B. Allgood, "Confederate Partisans and the Southern Cavalier Ideal, 1840–1920". Southern Historian (2011). Vol. 32, pp. 28–42.
- "Hayes Historical Journal: The Problem of Ulysses S. Grant". Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. p. 93; 266. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- Scrugham, Mary, and William H. (William Henry) Townsend. Force or Consent As the Basis of American Government. [Lexington]: Lexington, Ky. Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1920.
- "The Negro Problem. Race Questions Vigorously Discussed by Thomas Dixon, Jr., in The Leopard's Spots". The Times (Philadelphia). April 12, 1902. p. 14.
- Dixon Jr., Thomas (1905). "The Clansman". New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. p. To the reader.
- "About authors". New York Times. April 16, 1904. p. 18.
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- Rothman, Joshua (December 4, 2016). "When Bigotry Paraded Through the Streets". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- "Were Scots responsible for the Ku Klux Klan?". BBC Guides. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- Blake, John (December 28, 2016). "How Trump's victory turns into another 'Lost Cause'". CNN. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. pp. 292, 448–49. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
[quoting Robert Penn Warren on Faulkner, Blight writes:] If respect for the human is the central fact of Faulkner's work, what makes that fact significant is that he realizes and dramatizes the difficulty of respecting the human. Everything is against it, the savage egotism, the blank appetite, stupidity and arrogance, even virtues sometimes, the misreading of our history and tradition, our education, our twisted loyalties. That is the great drama, however, the constant story.
- Simpson, John A. (December 25, 2009). "Sumner A. Cunningham". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society & University of Tennessee Press. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
- Helen Taylor (2002). "Gone with the Wind and its Influence". In Perry, Carolyn; Weaks-Baxter, Mary (eds.). The History of Southern Women's Literature. LSU Press. pp. 258–67. ISBN 978-0-8071-2753-7.
- David W. Blight (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press. pp. 283–84. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- Sergio (February 4, 2016). "Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn't Want You to See." IndieWire.com. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
- Cohen, Karl F. (1997). Forbidden animation : censored cartoons and blacklisted animators in America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-0395-0. OCLC 37246766.
- Korkis, Jim (2012). Who's afraid of the Song of the South? : and other forbidden Disney stories. Theme Park Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-9843415-5-9.
- Spencer, Samuel (November 12, 2019). "'Song of the South': Why the Controversial Disney Movie Is Not on Disney Plus". Newsweek. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
- Woodworth, Steven E. "Film Review: Gods and Generals". Teaching History. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Feis, William B. "Movie Review: Gods and Generals". The Society for Military History.
- "Gods and Generals (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Ebert, Roger. "Gods and Generals: Movie Review". Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Gallagher, pp. 24–25.
- Fischer, Leroy H. (1965). "Reviewed work: Jefferson Davis: Tragic Hero, Hudson Strode". The Journal of American History. 52 (2): 394–396. doi:10.2307/1908852. JSTOR 1908852.
- Wilonsky, Robert (April 24, 2018). "Trip to Texas Civil War Museum shows why Dallas should never send its Robert E. Lee statue there". Dallas News.
- Stampp, The Causes of the Civil War, page 59
- Stampp, The Causes of the Civil War, pp. 63–65
- William C. Davis, Look Away, pp. 97–98
- Davis, The Cause Lost p. x
- Gallager and Nolan, p. 29
- Davis, The Cause Lost, p. 178
- A. Cash Koiniger, review of Gallagher's Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War (2008), citing pages 46 and 81, in The Journal of Military History (Jan 2009) 73 (1) p. 286
- Bailey, Fred Arthur (1991). "The Textbooks of the "Lost Cause": Censorship and the Creation of Southern State Histories". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 75 (3): 507–533. JSTOR 40582363.
- Bailey, Fred Arthur (1995). "Free Speech and the Lost Cause in the Old Dominion". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 103 (2): 237–266. JSTOR 4249508.
- Barnhart, Terry A. Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause (Louisiana State University Press; 2011) 288 pages
- Blight, David W. (2001). Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-00332-3.
- Boccardi, Megan B. "Remembering in black and white: Missouri women's memorial work 1860–1910" (PhD. Dissertation), University of Missouri—Columbia, 2011, online, with detailed bibliography pp. 231–57
- Coski, John M. The Confederate Battle Flag. (2005) ISBN 0-674-01722-6
- Cox, Karen L. Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida, 2003)
- Davis, William C. (1996). The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (1st ed.). Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.: Univ Pr of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-0809-6.
- Davis, William C. Look Away: A History of the Confederate States of America. (2002) ISBN 0-684-86585-8
- Dorgan, Howard (1972). "The doctrine of victorious defeat in the rhetoric of confederate veterans". Southern Speech Communication Journal. 38 (2): 119–130. doi:10.1080/10417947209372178.
- Foster, Gaines M. (1988). Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913. US: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505420-0.
- Freeman, Douglas Southall, The South to Posterity: An Introduction to the Writing of Confederate History (1939).
- Gallagher, Gary W. and Alan T. Nolan (ed.), The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, Indiana University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-253-33822-0.
- Gallagher, Gary W., Jubal A. Early, the Lost Cause, and Civil War History: A Persistent Legacy (Frank L. Klement Lectures, No. 4), Marquette University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-87462-328-6.
- Goldfield, David. Still Fighting the Civil War. (2002) ISBN 0-8071-2758-2
- Gulley, H. "Women and the lost cause: Preserving a Confederate identity in the American Deep South." Journal of historical geography 19.2 (1993): 125
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd (1998). ""You Must Remember This": Autobiography as Social Critique". The Journal of American History. 85 (2): 439–465. doi:10.2307/2567747. JSTOR 2567747.
- Hattaway, Herman (Summer 1971). "Clio's Southern Soldiers: The United Confederate Veterans and History". Louisiana History. Louisiana State University. XII (3): 213–42.
- Janney, Caroline E. (2008). Burying the dead but not the past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the lost cause. U of North Carolina P. ISBN 978-0-8078-3176-2. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- Janney, Caroline E. "The Lost Cause." Encyclopedia Virginia (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2009)
- Loewen, James W.; Sebesta, Edward H., eds. (2010). The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The "Great Truth" about the "Lost Cause". Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-60473-218-4.
- Osterweis, Rollin G. The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900 (1973) online
- Reardon, Carol, Pickett's Charge in History and Memory, University of North Carolina Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8078-2379-1.
- Simpson, John A. (2003). Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends: Guardians of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-1-57233-211-9. OCLC 750779185.
- Stampp, Kenneth. The Causes of the Civil War. (3rd edition 1991)
- Ulbrich, David, "Lost Cause", Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, Heidler, David S., and Heidler, Jeanne T., eds., W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04758-X.
- Wilson, Charles Reagan, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920, University of Georgia Press, 1980, ISBN 0-8203-0681-9.
- Wilson, Charles Reagan, "The Lost Cause Myth in the New South Era" in Myth America: A Historical Anthology, Volume II. 1997. Gerster, Patrick, and Cords, Nicholas. (editors.) Brandywine Press, St. James, NY. ISBN 1-881089-97-5
Arrangement is chronological, from oldest to most recent.
- Early, Jubal Anderson (1866). A memoir of the last year of the War of Independence, in the Confederate States of America. Toronto, Printed by Lovell & Gibson.
- —— (1872). The campaigns of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Baltimore : J. Murphy.
- —— (1915). The heritage of the South. Lynchburg, Va., Press of Brown-Morrison co.
- Grady, Benjamin Franklin (1899). The case of the South against the North; or Historical evidence justifying the southern states of the American Union in their long controversy with northern states. Raleigh, N. C., Edwards & Broughton.
- Coulter, E. Merton (1947). The South During Reconstruction, 1865–1877: A History of the South. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-0008-0.
- Fahs, Elizabeth; Waugh, Joan, eds. (2004). The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-5572-0.
- Williams, David S. (May 15, 2005). "Lost Cause Religion." New Georgia Encyclopedia.
- Rubin, Karen Aviva (2007). The Aftermath of Sorrow: White Women's Search for Their Lost Cause, 1861-1917. Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University.
- Wallace-Sanders, Kimberly (June 15, 2009). "Southern Memory, Southern Monuments, and the Subversive Black Mammy". Southern Spaces. doi:10.18737/M7PK6W.
- Bonekemper III, Edward H. (2015). The Myth of the Lost Cause: Why the South Fought the Civil War and Why the North Won. Regnery History. ISBN 978-1-62157-454-5.
- Tutor, Philip (January 17, 2016). "Memory or History? Insight: Throughout the South, memorials with difficult histories pose vexing problems". Anniston Star.
- Waters, Dustin (December 13, 2017). "How South Carolina history was hijacked to sell the Lost Cause. The State of the Confederacy". Charleston City Paper.
- Breed, Allen G. (August 10, 2018). "'The lost cause': the women's group fighting for Confederate monuments". The Guardian.
- Duggan, Paul (November 28, 2018). "Sins of the Fathers". Washington Post Magazine.
- Palmer, Brian; Wessler, Seth Freed (December 2018). "The Costs of the Confederacy". Smithsonian Magazine.
- Tutor, Philip (December 7, 2018). "How the South pays (literally) for the Lost Cause". Anniston Star.
- Gates Jr., Henry Louis (November 8, 2019). "The 'Lost Cause' That Built Jim Crow". New York Times.