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Lost Cause, an interpretation of the American Civil War perceived by most historians as a myth that attempts to preserve the honour of the South by spreading the Confedeprice defeat in the ideal feasible light. It qualities the loss to the overwhelming Union benefit in manpower and also sources, nostalgically celebprices an antebellum South of supposedly benevolent slave owners and also contented enslaved civilization, and downplays or altogether ignores slavery as the reason of war. It ended up being the thoughtful foundation for the racial violence and terrorism employed to reverse Rebuilding and also for the reimposition of white prominence in the Jim Crow era. Its acceptance in the North and also in the South facilitated national reunion following the war but at the cost of the civil rights of Afrideserve to Americans.

All significant battles and also their aftermaths compel a battle over their memory. Commonly, war leaves emotional, logistical, and physical obstacles of mourning, recoexceptionally, even survival. Great loss is a global facet in the harvest of war. We watch it in many cemeteries across contemporary landscapes, in monuments of all kinds, and in the less visible ideological backgrounds that emerge in the struggles over interpreting and explaining the definitions of battle.

Sometimes the losers of wars prevail over winners in contests to shape historic memory. In part, this was the case in the United States in the late 1nine and early on 20th centuries. After the Civil War, white Southerners (both making it through ex-Confederates and also the next generation of their children) and their Northern allies constructed a “Lost Cause” heritage. They fashioned a potent and racially exclusive version of the nature and also definition of the war as well as the duration of Rebuilding (1865–77).

The Lost Cause emerged among ex-Confederates as a series of mourning rituals and as a mental response to the trauma of defeat. The Confederacy had truly been defeated. Slaincredibly, its mechanism of work and also social organization, had been damaged. The social infrastructure—railroadways, harbours, schools, and also in some situations totality cities themselves—had been devastated. Hundreds of countless white Southern men and even teenage boys were dead or crippled via wounds. Plantations had been lassist to waste in particular areas of the South. The former Confederacy was a land also of damages. The extremely concept of race connections was around to undergo a change. An massive battle and bloodletting, unmatched in contemporary U.S. history, had actually to someexactly how be put aside and also a new order imagined and also executed. Was it even possible for beat white Southerners to accept their defeat and also discover a means to move on into the postbattle world?

They required explacountries and stories in which to embed their woe, their loss, and their hatred. But, through time, they conceived a deep mythology, a fairly lethal narrative of their loss, explacountries of what had actually been at stake, and also why they thought they had surrendered on battlefields but never before, they competed, in the realm of ideology. With time, the Lost Causage legacy took root in selective reinterpretations of the war’s reasons, in Southern resistance to Reconstruction, in ever before more virulent doctrines of white dominance, and also in a nostalgic famous society appreciated and advocated by Northern and also Southern society brokers.

Lost Causage advocates—from high-ranking policemans to common soldiers writing reminiscences and womales leading memorial associations—suggested that the Confedeprices had shed only to remarkable Yankee numbers and also resources, minimized the role that slavery had actually played in catalyzing secession and the battle or declared that the war had actually never before been about slaincredibly, and referred to as for the nation to reconcile by equally honouring both Confederate and Union sacrifices. In the rapidly modernizing and altering environment of commercial, metropolitan, multiethnic immiprovide America of the late 1ninth and beforehand 20th centuries, the Old South of alleged benevolent masters and also faithful servants, of Robert E. Lee illustrated as the country’s truest Christian soldier and also increasingly on equestrian statues, offered a sentimentalized road to reunion in between North and South. The Lost Causage for this reason ended up being a narrative of order and rebirth of old worths and also a tonic against are afraid of social and also racial adjust.

The honouring and also close to sainthood of Lee bega very early, right after his death in 1870. Many kind of of his previous officers fashioned a history of the war that made Lee a nearly infallible warrior betrayed by lesser subordinates. A reason reputed so noble in defeat needed a nearly pure hero. Even in the North, Lee was commonly venerated as a supremely able soldier and design of Christian rectitude. However before, this arising nationwide admiration for Lee the soldier prompted outrage from movie critics that wondered exactly how a loser in such a huge rebellion that could have actually been prosecuted as “treason” could be considered a public symbol. In 1871 Frederick Douglass, the nation’s many influential Babsence voice, denounced the potential of this Lee cult. He feared a “devoutly cherimelted sentiment, inseparably figured out via the ’shed reason.’ ” Douglass condemned the “bombastic laudation of the rebel chief” and also complained that he might “scarcely take up a newspaper…that is not filled with nauseating flatteries of the late Robert E. Lee.” On May 29, 1890, after lengthy planning and also controversy, a huge statue of Lee on horseearlier was unveiled in Richmond, Virginia, before a crowd of an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people, the beginning of the more than decade-long building and construction of Monument Avenue in the previous Confederate capital, a street that would certainly enshrine four added Confederate heroes.

From 1865 to the 1880s, these Confedeprice legends had been forged by wartime participants figured out to vsuggest their cause. By the 1890s, yet, Lost Cause culture had emerged, especially via the job-related of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Elite Southern white womales, claiming straight family members relationships to the Confederacy through their fathers and also uncles, or sometimes husbands and brothers, developed monuments, lobbied congressmales, ceded lectures, ran essay contests for schoolkids, increased money, and strove to regulate the content of background textbooks, all in the business of an exalted South of yore.

Above all, Lost Causers—womales in the UDC and also males through the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) association, which by 1904 asserted 1,565 active regional camps, at leastern one camp in 75 percent of all counties in the 11 former Confedeprice states—supported a story not around “loss” at all. Their tales progressively ended up being a victory narrative about the nation’s in its entirety triumph against the racial changes and also constitutional changes of Rebuilding. The defeat of Black civil and also political legal rights and also, for some, also the terrorist violence it required to accomplish the white Southern Democrats’ counterrevolution versus Rebuilding and construction emerged as honoured main themes of Lost Cause culture.

In his two-volume memoir, The Rise and Fevery one of the Confederate Government (1881), former Confederate president Jefferchild Davis argued that slavery “was in no wise the reason of the conflict” and also that servants had been “contented through their lot.” He as well declared the Lost Causage not lost: “Well might we rejoice in the reacquired possession of self-government.…This is the good victory…a full non-interference by the Federal Government through the domestic affairs of the States.” When 21st-century conservative politicians or judges demand also the return of power to the “says,” we regularly hear, knowingly or not, echoes of Jefferson Davis.

As racial segregation took host in legislation throughout the South by the 1890s, a new generation of white Southerners took up the Lost Cause as a racial ideology, however they did so by listening to the older representatives of the battle generation. White dominance and the stories of the Lost Cause reverberated in the extremely heartbeat of Jim Crow America. Between 1890 and also the at an early stage 1920s, the vast majority of the many hundreds of Confederate monuments that dot the South’s civic spaces were unveiled, sometimes dedicated with speeches that touted their prominence as a bulwark of the Jim Crow civilization they stood for.

In February 1896 in Richmond, the Ladies Memorial Association of that city as well as Confederate veterans conducted formal exercises dedicating the White House of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis’s executive mansion in 1861–65, as the “Treacertain Housage of Confederate background and relics.” It later became known as the Museum of the Confederacy. Virginia’s governor, Charles T. O’Ferrall, spoke of the Lost Causage as a holy heritage “crumelted out…under the Juggernaut wheels of exceptional numbers and also mercimuch less power” from the North however likewise as a heritage with “no lingering feeling of bitterness” and therefore as a source of national reconciliation.

But then the major orator of the day, former Confedeprice basic Bradley T. Johnson, a well-known Southern memorial speaker, took the podium. With the windows of the ornate room festooned via Confedeprice flags and military relics all approximately, Johnchild launched into a virulent expression of the Lost Cause as racial ideology. He claimed secession a sacred act and said that tbelow was nopoint “lost” around the South’s reason. “The world is sucount coming to the conclusion,” Johnboy proclaimed, “that the reason of the Confederacy was ideal.” The war had been a fight of the “totally free mobocracy of the North” versus a “slave democracy of the South.” Many Lost Cause orators were specifically astute propagandists as they fashioned a collection of beliefs searching for a background. Johnkid labeled slaexceptionally “the apprenticeship by which savage races had been educated and trained into world by their superiors.” By Yankee occupation “the negro…, against his will certainly, without his assistance” had actually been “turned loose in America to do the finest he have the right to in the contest through the strongest race that ever lived.” Johnboy was not finished honouring the Confederate heritage till he announced, “The great crime of the century was the emancipation of the negroes.”

By contrast, tright here always have been some in the South that have actually dissented from the Lost Cause ideological background, start through the Scalawags, the ex-Confederates that joined the Republideserve to Party throughout Rebuilding, consisting of celebrated previous guerrilla mounties colonel John S. Mosby, who pointedly identified slaextremely as the reason of the war. Among the dissenting teams were a pair of multiracial political motions whose members, having attained state as well as federal office, gone after an agenda that benefited Babsence and also white functioning people: the “Readjusters” of Virginia in the 1880s, led by previous general William Mahone, and also the “Fusionists” of North Carolina in the 1890s, a coalition of Republicans and also Populists. Tright here is also a Southern literary legacy of rejection of the interpretation and values of the Lost Cause that stretches from George Washington Cable to William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren (who composed about the “misreading” of Southern background and also tradition and of the South’s “twisted loyalties”), and Flannery O’Connor.

Nonethemuch less, the Lost Causage has never died in American society and national politics, though, as the years went on, it would certainly hardly ever be esposupplied in the type of stark language supplied by Johnchild. It has actually sustained in modern-day tastes for Civil War memorabilia and art, such as the epic movies Gone with the Wind (1939) and Gods and Generals (2003), and also in ubiquitous provides of the Confedeprice Battle Flag to oppose civil rights and also represent Southern identification. Many civil civil liberties proponents have suggested that states’ civil liberties legacies rooted in the Confederacy have been provided by advocacy teams, consisting of members of the contemporary Republican Party, to suppress the voting civil liberties of Afrihave the right to Americans and also various other constituencies. Confedeprice mythology additionally influenced a horrific mass murder by a young white supremacist at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, and also it was a component of the hate-fueled worldviews stood for in a large white prominence march that finished in one death and also dozens of injuries in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

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In the 2first century there has been much conflict about Confederate memorials. Those who watch them as offensive monuments to a white supremacist previous have demanded their removal, and many type of have been taken dvery own, particularly in the wake of the nationwide demonstrations in 2020 orchestrated by the Black Lives Matter motion in response to the killing of an African American guy, George Floyd, while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. Those who have actually opposed the statues’ removal argue that they are representations of Southern historical heritage. Behind these politically charged debates lurks the Lost Causage. No matter exactly how discredited, no issue exactly how much mainstream historic scholarship and also teaching curricula expose and explain the Lost Causage heritages, they endure—specifically for those searching for a previous that they believe will relieve them of the existing. Some Americans are forever searching for safe havens for racial ideological backgrounds that refuse the dynamism of the multiethnic America the country has actually end up being.