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Myth of the Lost Cause: Why the Confederate Loss Was Not Inevitable Essay

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For over a century, many writers and historians theorized that the Confederate loss during the Civil War was, in fact, inevitable, and that they were only fighting a losing war against an overwhelming invading force. This idea shows the southern gentleman, in his honor, taking up arms against what was obviously a superior foe in order to preserve their state’s rights, their families, and their homes, with no hope of coming out the victor in the contest. This is a romantic notion of a time forgotten where gentlemen fought a barbaric would-be conquering force in order that their economic tyranny be forced upon the southern gentleman. This can be countered by the fact that they were only looking for a way to soothe their own defeat, that many sought post-war political gain, and that invading the north during the war was a hope to achieve victory.
There are many myths about the American Civil War fought from 1861-1865. One such myth is that the south was forced into action by the tyranny of the north, specifically that of newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. Another was that the war was not about slavery in any way, shape or form; rather, it was a war over a state’s right to govern itself without interference from the federal government. But no other myth has permeated through the decades more than the myth of the Lost Cause, which presupposes the inevitability of defeat to the Union army. The term was first coined by journalist Edward Pollard in his 1866 book entitled “The Lost Cause” (Civil War: A Visual History). There are people today who will still argue that those men who fought for the confederacy were fighting an invading Yankee horde and were destined to lose. The north had high tariffs and an unwanted economic d...


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...d and maimed and all of the political complexities of the time. People would much rather believe in the romantic view of the honorable hero on a quest, and, in fact, the idea of those riding off to face the horde with certain defeat is a pleasant one, of sorts.




Works Cited


Charisse, M. No 'lost cause' of Civil War. The Evening Sun. Jan 01 2011.
Farwell, B. Civil War Work's Theory a Lost Cause. Washington Times.
Gallagher, Gary W. and Alan T. Nolan (ed.), The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, Indiana University Press, 2000
Henry, S. C. How 'the lost cause' was lost. New York Times (1923-Current File). August 4 1963
Levin, K. M. William Mahone, the lost cause, and civil war history. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 113(4), 378-412. 2005.
The Civil War: A Visual History Ed. Dunne, Jemima, Paula Regan. New York: DK Publishing. 2011.



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