American Civil War: The Lost Cause Myth

Figure 1.-- This unidentified cabinet card shows a family photographed in the 1890s based on the clothing and mount style. The boys wear Fauntleroy suits with Civil War kepis. The look to be Confederate kepis. Unfortunately there is no studio information on the mount so we do not know if they are southeners or northeners.

Southern historians with anti-black bias established the Lost Cause myth. It proved to be one of the long-lasting trends in American historiography. The Lost Cause because an article of faith of virtually religious dimensions thriughout the South. More surprisingly is became largely accepted even in the North, dspite the monumental accomplishment of destroying slavery. This historical myth went largely unchallenged except by a few scholars like W.E.B. Dubois, who was not given scholarly recognition at the time. It is not entirely clear to us why the Lost Cause myth achieved such uncritical acceptance given the strength of the Abolitionist Movemebt in the North. We suspect that it was primarily the impact of the dominant rascist attitudes of the day. It had to be remmenbered that racist attitudes were commn even among many abolitionists. Opposition to slavery was the issue they championed, not racial equality. There does not seem to be a reasonable alterntive comclusion. Here a key factor was that while slavery had become unpoplar in the North, racial equality and black civil rights were not principles that were widely accepted. The Progressive Movement of the late-19th and early-20 century did not champion race issues. In fact the peak of the Progresive Movement tracks neatly with the nadir of race relations on America, the supremecy of Jim Crow and the rise of a revived Ku Klux Klam. In fact many Progressives were ardent believers in eugenics. The historical myths of the Lost Cause were not seriously challenged by academics until the advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.


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Created: 3:48 PM 11/19/2017
Last updated: 3:48 PM 11/19/2017