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  • Between 1860 and 1861, 11 southern states withdrew from the United States

  • and formed the Confederate States of America.

  • They left, or seceded, in response to the growing movement

  • for the nationwide abolition of slavery.

  • Mississippi said,

  • our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.”

  • South Carolina citedhostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states

  • to the institution of slavery.”

  • In March 1861, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stevens,

  • proclaimed that the cornerstone of the new Confederate government

  • was white supremacy, or as he put it,

  • slaveryandsubordinationto white people

  • was thenatural and normal conditionof Black people in America

  • and theimmediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

  • Three weeks after the now-infamous Cornerstone Speech,

  • the American Civil War began.

  • The conflict lasted four years, had a death toll of about 750,000,

  • and ended with the Confederacy's defeat.

  • By 1866, barely a year after the war ended,

  • southern sources began claiming the conflict wasn't actually about slavery.

  • Meanwhile, Frederick Douglass,

  • a prominent abolitionist and formerly enslaved person, cautioned,

  • the spirit of secession is stronger today than ever.”

  • From the words of Confederate leaders,

  • the reason for the war could not have been clearerit was slavery.

  • So how did this revisionist history come about?

  • The answer lies in the Lost Cause— a cultural myth about the Confederacy.

  • The term was coined by Edward Pollard, a pro-Confederate journalist.

  • In 1866, he publishedThe Lost Cause:

  • A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates.”

  • Pollard pointed out that the U.S. Constitution gave states

  • the right to govern themselves independently in all areas

  • except those explicitly designated to the national government.

  • According to him, the Confederacy wasn't defending slavery,

  • it was defending each state's right to choose whether or not to allow slavery.

  • This explanation effectively turned white southerners' documented defense

  • of slavery and white supremacy into a patriotic defense of the Constitution.

  • The Civil War had devastated the country,

  • leaving those who had supported the Confederacy

  • grasping to justify their actions.

  • Many pro-Confederate writers, political leaders, and others

  • were quick to adopt and spread the narrative of the Lost Cause.

  • One organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy,

  • played a key role in transmitting the ideas of the Lost Cause

  • to future generations.

  • Founded in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1894,

  • the UDC united thousands of middle and upper class white southern women.

  • The UDC raised thousands of dollars to build monuments to Confederate soldiers.

  • These were often unveiled with large public ceremonies,

  • and given prominent placements, especially on courthouse lawns.

  • The Daughters also placed Confederate portraits in public schools.

  • They monitored textbooks to minimize the horrors of slavery,

  • and its significance in the Civil War,

  • passing revisionist history and racist ideology down through generations.

  • By 1918, the UDC claimed over 100,000 members.

  • As their numbers grew, they increased their influence outside the South.

  • Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson

  • both met with UDC members and enabled them to memorialize

  • the Confederacy in Arlington National Cemetery.

  • The UDC still exists and defends Confederate symbols

  • as part of a noble heritage of sacrifice by their ancestors.

  • Despite the wealth of primary sources

  • showing that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War,

  • the myth about states' rights persists today.

  • In the aftermath of the war,

  • Frederick Douglass and his abolitionist contemporaries

  • feared this erasure of slavery from the history of the Civil War

  • could contribute to the government's failure

  • to protect the rights of Black Americans

  • a fear that has repeatedly been proven valid.

  • In an 1871 address at Arlington Cemetery, Douglass said:

  • We are sometimes asked in the name of patriotism

  • to forget the merits of this fearful struggle,

  • and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation's life,

  • and those who struck to save it

  • those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. [...]

  • if this war is to be forgotten, I ask in the name of all things sacred,

  • what shall men remember?”

Between 1860 and 1861, 11 southern states withdrew from the United States

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B1 TED-Ed slavery confederacy confederate war civil war

Debunking the myth of the Lost Cause: A lie embedded in American history - Karen L. Cox

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/25
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