The Lost Cause myth helped Southern whites deal 12 years a slave essay questions the shattering reality of catastrophic defeat and impoverishment in a war they had been sure they would win. Having outfought the enemy, they were eventually ground down by “overwhelming numbers and resources,” as Robert E. Lee told his grieving soldiers at Appomattox.
This theme was echoed down the years in Southern memoirs, at reunions of Confederate veterans, and by heritage groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Indiana University Press, 231 pp. University Press of Virginia, 124 pp. Louisiana State University Press,228 pp. The Confederate vice-president, Alexander H. The United States, said Stephens, had been founded in 1776 on the false idea that all men are created equal.
This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. Unlike Lincoln, Davis and Stephens survived the war to write their memoirs. By then, slavery was gone with the wind. To salvage as much honor and respectability as they could from their lost cause, they set to work to purge it of any association with the now dead and discredited institution of human bondage. In their postwar views, both Davis and Stephens hewed to the same line: Southern states had seceded not to protect slavery, but to vindicate state sovereignty. This theme became the virgin birth theory of secession: the Confederacy was conceived not by any worldly cause, but by divine principle. Union into which they had, as sovereign communities, voluntarily entered.
620,000 people was a difference of opinion about the Constitution. Thus the Civil War was not a war to preserve the nation and, ultimately, to abolish slavery, but instead a war of Northern aggression against Southern constitutional rights. Gary Gallagher and Alan Nolan, explores all aspects of this myth. Lee was the war’s foremost general, indeed the greatest commander in American history, while Ulysses S. Grant was a mere bludgeoner whose army overcame his more skilled and courageous enemy only because of those overwhelming numbers and resources. Slavery had nothing to do with it.
Think of it, soldiers of Lee! You were fighting, they say, for the privilege of holding your fellow man in bondage! Will you for one moment acknowledge the truth of that indictment? You could not have followed a banner that was not a banner of liberty! The theme of liberty, not slavery, as the cause for which the South fought became a mantra in the writings of old Confederates and has been taken up by neo-Confederates in our own time. We lost the idea that the states were to stand against the federal government gaining too much power over our lives.