Analysis: The Lost Cause Movement

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After their loss in the American Civil War, the Southern states went through a difficult period of Reconstruction. Not only was most of the South’s land destroyed in the war, but they also had to change their currency and adapt to Northerners taking over their politics. It was due to these trying times that the Southerners established a set of beliefs and values about themselves they called the Lost Cause. Southerners claimed the Lost Cause was a social movement of remembering and honoring their past; however, the way that Lost Cause thinkers romanticised and ignored their past mistakes makes it hard to believe that the act was just social. Ultimately, the Lost Cause movement was a political agenda that drew a greater presence of white supremacy …show more content…
Source 5 depicts a textbook used in schools titled The Women of the South in War Times. The textbook writes that Confederate soldiers were not “fighting on behalf of slavery” and that the good behavior of black people in the south was a “tribute to the splendid character of the dominant race.” The Lost Cause perpetuated white supremacy in the nation, as it supported ideas that black people were initially savages who needed the loving and benevolent control of white masters. The textbook, which was taught in schools, shows how these ideas of white supremacy were perpetuated in and enforced within the minds of new generations. Politically, Lost Cause ideas helped enforce the Jim Crow Laws, which greatly withheld rights from recently freed black citizens. By portraying the South’s participation in the Civil War as noble and not connected to slavery, as well as creating a false illusion of a benevolent nature in slavery, the Lost Cause greatly justified Jim Crow laws that surfaced during reconstruction. Lost Cause values suggest that Jim Crow laws were necessary for the preservation of peace and order in the country, and it was partly due to this way of thinking that the expansion of black rights was prolonged for so …show more content…
Though the South was poor and devastated after the civil war, Lost Cause advocates managed to gain power and attention to the movement. The Lost Cause managed to distort the history of the South and romanticize their past actions, while simultaneously erasing the acts of terror and racism that was so deeply ingrained in the Confederacy. While ostensibly appearing as more of a social movement, the Lost Cause was in its’ heart a political agenda focused on hindering changes in the South’s policies and slowing down the movement toward freedom for freed black slaves. Most notably was the way Lost Cause helped enforce the Jim Crow laws, which canceled out the laws that gave black people rights. The Lost Cause became deeply ingrained in Southern society, even inspiring author Margaret Mitchell in her novel Gone with the Wind. The book’s themes were greatly influenced by Lost Cause thinking. Lost Cause Illusions about what the Old South stood for have endured time, and there are issues regarding it in modern society. Though most of the country has come to regard the Confederate flag as a symbol of the racism and inequality that formed the Old South, there are still debates today over displaying it in the South. Many Southerners

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