Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause is a set of beliefs which endorsed the virtues of the ante-bellum South embodying a view of the American Civil War as an honorable struggle to maintain those virtues as widely espoused in popular culture especially in the South, while overlooking or downplaying the central role of slavery. Gallagher wrote: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. The belief is a popular way that many White Southerners commemorate the war. The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a major organization that has propounded the Lost Cause for over a century. Historian Caroline Janney states: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 Lost Cause belief was founded upon several historically inaccurate elements. These include the claim that the Confederacy started the Civil War to defend state's rights rather than to preserve slavery, and the related claim that slavery was benevolent, rather than cruel. Historians, including Gaines Foster, generally agree that the Lost Cause narrative also ""helped preserve white supremacy. Most scholars who have studied the white South's memory of the Civil War or the Old South conclude that both portrayed a past society in which whites were in charge and blacks faithful and subservient."" Supporters typically portray the Confederacy's cause as noble and its leadership as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry and honor, defeated by the Union armies through numerical and industrial force that overwhelmed the South's superior military skill and courage. Proponents of the Lost Cause movement also condemned the Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, claiming that it had been a deliberate attempt by Northern politicians and speculators to destroy the traditional Southern way of life. In recent decades Lost Cause themes have been widely promoted by the Neo-Confederate movement in books and op-eds, and especially in one of the movement's magazines, the Southern Partisan. The Lost Cause theme has been a major element in defining gender roles in the white South, in terms of honor, tradition, and family roles. The Lost Cause has been part of memorials and even religious attitudes.