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tv   Lectures in History Civil War Legacy in the South  CSPAN  May 28, 2022 11:02am-12:16pm EDT

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we are going to jump a little bit ahead today from reconstruction and get into the memory of the war. it's a very relevant topic and a complicated topic, but i want you i want us to kind of go through. the end of the war itself and how the memory began to take shape. what we're going to see is that
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the people involved in writing the history of the civil war initially were the people that experienced it and they had their own views and beliefs and that had heavily left an imprint even on our current memory of the war. so i've got a quote from woodrow wilson who's president in 1913 talking about just how healing right the post period after the civil war had been essentially saying everybody was united that's 1913. that's 50 years after the end of the civil war. so like i said, i want to step back and see how we ended up there with wilson saying such a thing. the lost cause is a term. i know you all have heard and we've talked about and karen cox talks about in her book, that will be discussing next week and we rewriting your papers on it's
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a word that came from a book. so, you know it's today. used widely but the man who's credited with coining it was a journalist a virginian, edward pollard. edited the richmond examiner during the civil war. he was a native virginian. and very in the post-war period and looking back at the end of the war. he saw himself as sort of self self-style himself as the first historian of the confederacy. he wanted to write what he believed to be is the most accurate history of the war. so he published a book in 1866 only a year after the war ended. the lost cause a new southern history of the war of the confederates and this is what we get a lot of our basic tenants
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of the lost cause it's going to change as we'll see. there's going to be some additions to it, but a couple of the things he set out right away first that's secession was legal and justified. secondly that all confederate soldiers were brave and thirdly and this may surprise you i don't i don't know but he was highly critical of the confederate government and highly critical of jefferson davis. so it's not a complete sort of whitewash and celebratory. picture of the confederacy and this comes from his views as a journalist where he was a critic of jefferson davis, and he essentially argues that confederates could have won if things were managed better. so he's a virginian and one of the things that's also important in understanding the lost cause and this early formation of a
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history of the war was putting virginia. in the center, and we've talked about this before right? it's still true today that virginia gets a lot of attention and obviously there were so many battles there and the capital of the confederacy was there. but he is part of this movement too to ensure that virginia gets special notice. and this is an excerpt from the book where he talks about pickett's charge. and the image i'm using is actually from alfred wad who was a northern journalist, but if even northerners are going to start picking up on this and promoting it as pickett's charge this celebratory. military moment right the high tide of the confederacy exemplary of the devotion of confederates and this is him saying right the virginians that the last part of this quote there has been no such example of devotion to war. so that's also important in lost
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cause a lot of exaggeration the idea that what happened to the south was unique and novel and especially the role of virginia. so i want to look at. what a lot of historians view as phases of the lost cause so edward pollard wrote his book published in 1866. but it is going to start to change. and as i said, it's going to develop some new tenants as more people begin to believe in and spread it. the first phase is right after the war the first five years or so right after the war. and it's marked by especially in emphasis on death. because that's probably not surprising right that. the entire country had endured terrible suffering and loss. and southerners white southerners were focused on how much they had sacrificed. in this war and there is actual
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efforts to rebury. bodies, especially unknown soldiers unknown confederate soldiers left behind. there's really a movement from women to set out. from places like here in alabama to go. to virginia and brewing bodies home and make sure they have a proper burial. the creation of confederate memorial day, which i'm going to come back to in a little bit, but happens very soon. and we still have it as a holiday here in alabama. you might not know that but it's still a state holiday. i april 26th was the day chosen by most former confederate states. what happened on april 26th you all remember? yeah, josh, no. 1866 it's the second surrender right joe johnston's friend is in, north carolina.
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yeah, it might seem a little obscure, but but it was viewed as the sort of final death. you know that the final death rows of the of the confederates, even though we had april 9th with appomattox, june 3rd is also celebrating some states. i believe in texas. it was i'm not honestly sure if it still is that was jefferson davis's birthday. so jefferson davis is one of these characters too that he's celebrated in some ways, but also made the villain. there was also a lot of soul-searching in these first five years after the war. why did the confederacy fail? what do you think people at the time started? saying to answer this question right after the war. yeah. that the north just had a superior numbers and resources right and that comes from lee's final order right that the south
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had devotion and sacrifice and bravery, but it could not compete with numbers of the of the north any other thoughts on that? yeah. there's probably a lot of scapegoating so like even even you just said a lot of that to go around you're that's a really good point and what's interesting about this first phase. there's actually a lot of inner. yeah, blaming just feeling that. they did something wrong these former confederates that there is it's there's always a tension in the lost cause and even some contradictions. so right this is a it becomes a mythology. it's an ideology. so it's not always going to stay up to reason obviously. it's not always going to be completely consistent. so there's this view and that never changes that the north had too much and there's no way the south could have won but there's also a view that confederates did something wrong themselves whether it's jefferson davis, but also there's a religious
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element to it that god. let them down or i should let me back up that they let god down that they weren't faithful enough as christians. there's a heavy religious element that also comes in this first phase of feeling that they're being punished. so it doesn't it's short right these kind of views and feelings and like i said, some of these aspects are going to stay there. but again it builds on lee's final order from april 9th or april 10th and pollard. and his book so the second phase you know and he states, i mean they can go a little bit before and a little bit after but this is a good way to remember the change on the second phase underscores the centrality of virginia, and it's led by a man named you will early who was one of lee's generals and he becomes
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extremely outspoken defender of lee and he really takes the helm in ensuring again that virginia will right represent the best of the confederacy is also something called the southern historical society, which is actually found in 1869 in nashville. but by the time we get to 1876 this group publishes papers publishes a journal really that is going to put in writing and circulate these views. so this is also part of why the lost cause becomes so omnipresent. it's not just one book or one event. it's it's just goes and all these different ways to spread these ideas and get new supporters. so here we have now pollard. it's not that he didn't talk about slavery slavery is just assumed to be you know, the idea of stage rights that that the confederates were there to
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defend this institution protect it and statesize part of it, but we're going to start to see now as a shift in rejecting slavery is really having anything to do the civil war. and it starts to happen in the 1870s and we start to see expressions of it in these papers of southern historical society papers. also the heroes we have men, you know, all confederate soldiers are still considered brave, but two men in particular become almost god-like and how they're portrayed by. lost causers, especially dual early. robbery lee and thomas jonathan jackson. i'm calling him tjj. i saw jackson. they are going to become. write these larger than life figures that did no wrong. and again represented the best of the antebellum south is there any other like? was on the day like maybe i
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guess. right to use rather than thing on slavery so excuse for not using slavery not focused on slavery. well, yeah, that's a great question to what is happening in the 1870s? what's the context? yeah, josh. construction registration is going to be we're going to see yes the kind of end of radical reconstruction. and the remember the renewal of those conservative governments, and we sort of redemption of the former confederacy. and so there is disenfranchisement of black men. there's increase in violence the rise we saw the kkk come and go but still other terroristic groups, so even though they're going to say slavery had nothing to do with the war. there's definitely a broader context of you know racial
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violence and controlling african americans and so that's also a work. it's interesting part of the contradiction too is the argument that a lot of these lost causes will make at the time that even though slavery had nothing to do with the war. it was a good thing, right? so they wanted to defend it but they don't want to focus on it. they don't really want to focus on slavery being the sole reason it's about power and control and autonomy as southerners. but we'll come we'll come back to this point too a little bit. yeah, exactly the first point of maybe feeling. you know, i look i i don't. think white southerners ever felt guilty about slavery and at the time of slavery i i don't know. what do you what are you the rest y'all think? yeah, you think maybe that? they were kind of looking ahead
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and trying to like say it wasn't about slavery so that they could maybe look look. be looked upon more favorably in the future. that's a great point to you and some people yes have thought that you know, jefferson davis others like him right their own memoirs and they also downplay the institution, but when i say that i you know, it's not we don't lose track their their views on on african-americans as as being inferior. that doesn't change in any way. in fact, it's going to be more blatant, but they want to move away from the institution. it's almost like yeah slavery is gone. it's over but african-americans shouldn't be treated as equal. right? so like i said, these are some of the tensions there and i i just don't think there's much there doesn't seem to hold be a whole lot of guilt, honestly. yeah, i think that the elimination of slavery as like the primary cause for the war was also. in part like part of their attempt to say that they hadn't really lost because if the war
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was all about slavery and now slavery no longer exists as an institution. i mean, that would be the most blatant characterization of the south being the loser of the battle when they want to keep promoting the fact that really like federacy still alive even though that's a great point that i don't think i've heard that before but i think it makes a lot of sense. yeah that to even just want to move on from an and say it doesn't matter that it's gone. you know, that's not what it was about anyway, yeah. very very good how during the 1870s with all with all of this stuff starting to happen what would how did the north view all of like the the creation of the heroes the quote unquote heroes of robert e lee. stonewall jackson, right and that's part of what's so interesting about this. they will many northerners will start to embrace these ideas white northerners will start to embrace them in particular african americans are going to
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have their own sort of parallel memory and parallel story that's going to contrast sharply with the lost cause and but they're very successful these individuals and groups. we'll see some groups organizations in spreading these ideas and what a lot of historians have also looked at david blight wrote a great book on this racing reunion. is this is also we 1870s 1880s 1890s where there's a sort of consensus of again of just of white americans coming together to celebrate these heroes and again not wanting to talk about slavery good badder and different and it's kind of certainly but it's absolutely a betrayal of some of the right initial ideals coming out of the civil war abolitionist and african-americans themselves and the hopes they had but it's definitely a shift and a change of this view becoming dominant across the country.
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why were they so easy? why were they so quick to accept viewing the the people that they had just fought against that they that they have just betrayed them as as heroes. well, i don't want to say and i'm going to get to that a little bit but it's not completely. and easy transition or easy acceptance it's not there's pushback. there's definitely one historian calls this the one cause meaning the cause of the union they push back on it. openly directly and reject it. but with time this view takes dominance. why do you think it is you put this back on you? why do you think it happens so quickly? what is your sense any? um i'm not i'm not sure i feel like it's sort of confuses me on both sides because for the north
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they just defeated these people and then the south they're like, oh these people these people just lost so why should a way should we want to keep this ideology of? losers alive what they're right, but they're not causing the calling them losers right there. they're celebrating them as the like i said of really they're flipping it so that they're they're she rose not that question. maybe a possible answer. i mean they fought each other back and forth for domain the whole whole civil war maybe like it's maybe they think it's kind of their way of healing in a way for it. but for a hard time's behind them for northerners for northerners because yes back and forth. i mean they bloodied each other up pretty good. well in that quote i showed you with wilson. i have more of a speech to show you too. is that there is this and this idea of let's move on right? let's heal the country. let's unify the country and and
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there is this embrace and i know it seems odd and strange that. northerners would accept this but they do they start to do it and i think some of it too honestly is the northerners even though they have their own version of their own. they have the ga jr. which is grant army republic. they have veterans organizations their their publicly writing their writing books. they're giving speeches about the union cause they are not as organized and they're not as intent on making sure that this one version is the one that stays dominant. when you say union, do me like the majority of the union like like party is in supporters. i'm yeah good catch. i'm saying the north i'm saying which can be tricky to define. i'm saying, you know, maybe let's say x union veterans or you know again wait northerners who endured and experienced civil war but this again is going to be a national change
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and national acceptance of the lost cause yeah. i don't know if this is a part of it, but i know that jubal early was very dismissive and critical of the union generals as well. especially towards grant. is this a part of the reason why maybe robert e lee so remembered while somebody like grant isn't i would i would say yes. i mean it is surprising that until recently now some of this has started to really change. there's been a new a renewed interest in grant so you might have seen the documentary about him. he's had new biographies the idea that right. why are we not focusing more on somebody like grant when lee becomes again heralded and celebrated so much. so some of these great. these are great questions all let's let's keep moving. i'm gonna come back to some of them as we go along. i want to also mention that not only are there going to be heroes, but there's gonna be mentioned davis but another general who's confederate
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general who's actually becomes a scapegoat for everything that went wrong, especially especially at gettysburg is james longstreet. that's jl. so this is where again like i said the contradictions come in. he is seen as somebody who is a traitor. he challengedly. he purposely was slow at gettysburg. he also becomes a republican which is going to be a unforgivable sin for a lot of these ex-confederates and they cast him out and he will push back himself and try to counter this but not every single confederate is celebrated. so like i said, there are some there are some exceptions and again they are going to double down though, even with that said even with long street being blamed for the entire defeated gettysburg. they still come back and the pages of the southern historical society papers and other ways to say, well, you know, the north had too many men anyway, and we were never gonna we were never going to win. okay, let's go last phase which
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is going to this is where it really gets. organized and like i said even more focused as a as a message. these are three groups the united confederate veterans founded in 1889 the united daughters of the confederacy found in 1894 and the sons of confederate veterans found in 1896. so notice the dates now we've moved into the 1880s and 1890s. so of course ucv. these are the actual veterans but the other two groups are the children of veterans. they have to prove their genealogy to be a member. and the utc in particular is incredibly active and that's what karen cox tells us more about and they their message is not just building again and all the things we just mentioned but that the confederacy is something to emulate for the world that they had something unique and special. that not just other americans should look at and admire but
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the world should admire. so this is again, we're getting into more myth making more right exaggeration of what really happened during the war but like i said, they're incredibly effective and focused on their message and they start to get into creating or effect of influencing school books there's going to be of course all kinds of commemorative activities monument dedications parades speeches women are central to a lot of this movement, of course with the udc. this is a picture of udc members from washington state tacoma. so this is when i talk to you about national, this is gone from coast to coast there are members across the country joining and again, they've got to prove their genealogy somehow to write a confederate veteran. and they are speaking in one voice in many ways in wanting to promote and celebrate the confederacy and there is this
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renewed emphasis on white supremacy. they're not making any bones. they're not they're not making any sort of excuses. they're not in any way downplaying their white. view their white supremise views. it's pretty blatant if you read any of the documents from this time these groups put out and why is that right? you all know? what's happening in the 1890s? the suffers movement is going to come. i mean it's a it's it's happening. yes, and it suffrage for women comes in 1920, but but you're pointing out something too that's important about these women. there's a club movement organization, especially of white middle-class women and their becoming activist and they have all kinds of and this is happening around the country. so the udc it's not unique in that sense, you know to be this
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successful really in in their purpose josh. thinking of what's eating ferguson yeah, that's going to come in 1896 right? and what did that do? you remember? yeah, the supreme court right said that segregation was, you know separate but equal and so this this is where we're seeing again, of course continue to some franchisement continued violence against african-americans, and and like i said, these groups are are just they're fusing their memory of the confederacy with white supremacy there again, they're making really no bones about it. i wanted to mention lasalle courville pickett as you all know, i grow my first book about her and her husband. she's part of this. she's central to it and using her own influences the wife of a former confederate general george pickett dies in 1875, but she goes on for 50 years and she has a whole career as what what i call a professional widow.
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she just makes money off of him and she makes money off of his memory and here's some books. she read many many books. this is about gettysburg and she's talks about him right leading his men into the flames of battle with chivalrous lightness and grace the real george pickett. no, nobody would say he moved about with lightness and grace, but she makes him into this again idealized civil chivalric southern man, and that's also part of the message of these groups. i want to forget into veterans i want to ask real quick about women. why do you think these women are so involved? why do they play such a role? yeah. they watch their husbands and like sons go into battle for all these years and put their heart into it. it's like when they if they don't come back they feel like they have something to remember them by by fighting for whatever
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they fought for i that's a good point justin. i mean, i do think it's this thing with lasalle with wanting to have a positive image and memory of their husbands and increasingly right will be the fathers and uncles and even grandfathers, um to promote it and yeah, i mean look we talked about the there's there's suffering in loss again for so much of of the confederacy, but remember women we talked about them and how important they were to the confederate cause shelby. this time was so desperate for power and this gave them a way to have political influence. while still fitting gender norms. well, yeah like yeah about it's it's definitely speaking to the movement towards suffrage and this is a way for them. also. remember they can do this like if the initially there is some pushback. i don't want to sound like northerners are just forgetting everything that they fought for
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and just welcoming can ex confederates. they're not again there is pushback and there's even a course during the early days of reconstruction radical reconstruction federal troops are still in the south and you can't just freely as a confederate veteran walk around in your uniform. for example, you could be arrested for that. so these women fine moments to kind of move into spaces where they're not going to get in trouble to talk about can they're confederate veteran husbands or again sons. what have you and also they're building on a very gendered tradition of mourning and focusing on the ritualistic of burial. they've started that from the get-go. they're just going to keep going. okay, so let's talk about veterans generally not just confederate veterans. so the lost cause well-established very clear message. and like i said, it's taking off nationally. the veterans themselves are going to want to tell their story as well. and this is an image from what's
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thought to be the very first regimental history published. it was actually published in 1863 to new york regiment and these regimentals are going to take off throughout this time period we're looking at the first the latter part of the 19th century in recording what happened to these units, but also celebrating in very much celebrating their units history. it doesn't mean they're all celebratory. there are examples of these regimentals frankly being pretty truthful about. the challenges of war the suffering of war and so they kind of get dismissed often is just being useless as far as his real history. but if you really look at them and pay attention to them they are giving us first-hand accounts of the men who experiences civil war. and then there's published memoirs diaries letters. sam watkins is one of the most
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famous. he published company h in the 18 1890s or 1882, right? he is from tennessee and writes about his experiences here in the western theater and as a historical document as a historical, you know, it's reliability. you have to look at it with some skepticism. he doesn't always tell the envarnished truth of what happened to him, but it's it is again a first-hand account and like i said these men want to they want to tell their story and they want to add to this formation of the narrative about the civil war and much of it. is that stress again on heroism on sacrifice. and what also is happening. i mentioned this already we got into a little bit is the generals get involved the officers get involved stop, you know, not just men down in the ranks many of them will be involved with all kinds of activities, but the officers and the generals at the very top this is a picture of us grant
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sitting writing his memoirs. he's dying from throat cancer. he finished his memoirs just before he passed away very much hoping that that would help support his family and james longstreet who is again the culprit the scapego for the confederates the scapego for the lost cause there's he writes his own memoir and the pages of the southern historical society papers, and they're fighting with each other. they're disagreeing what really happened and it gets off and really trivial. you know, what happened a very specific point on the battlefield and who is telling the truth? this is a lot of the discussion amongst these veterans and it if you look at it today right as a scholar you have to like i said go through it and comb through it and understand the context for these publications, but they are full of a wealth of information about the war and again giving you first hand accounts and there's such this desire on the part of many of these people that they want to
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be remembered. they don't want to feel that what they did was in vain and they don't want to feel that future generations like us are going to have no idea what they went through. so that's veterans women. right the lost cause how is is making its way through all of this and then we also have of course memorial day which we still celebrate that became a holiday due to veterans due to union veterans, but when i like i mentioned there's also a confederate version of it, which actually predates the union one the united states one, i should say. decoration days another term for this holiday and more recently. it's been recognized that former slaves probably were the first to mark graves in charleston, south carolina in 1865. they were marking graves of union prisoners. and formally write decorating the graves so decoration day.
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the other slide the other picture i have here. those are that's a parade more of a traditional parade. we still have today, you know you all know i grew up in connecticut and we always had memorial day parade. it was a big deal in my community. she marching it to be part of it. i don't know memorial day because there is the confederate version of it down here. it might not have the same relevance, but this is another way for these veterans to come out be recognized remember reminisce about what they went through and like i said help help create a narrative that they did something like i said important and significant and should not be forgotten. and of course monuments so i'm going to say we're going to get much more into you know, the current controversy about confederate monuments next week after you all finished karen cox's book and write your papers, but i want to acknowledge that monument building was not unique to the
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south. it's going to happen across the country. these are two monuments actually from my home state of connecticut the one to your left. i guess on the screen is considered the earliest monument perhaps in the country. it's hard to prove 100% but you can see the design right? it's basic it sounded looks kind of like miniature washington monument. and in many ways the emphasis at that time too would be on death this came out in the estimate. it came out in during the war itself during 1863 to mark the deaths of soldiers from this small town in connecticut. the one on the other side is of the figure is supposed to be a veteran being comforted by a child and it's dates from 1867. so this is the shift we're gonna start to see away from from the kind of just stone basic, you
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know almost funeral type monument to figures that have like a story and a message and what's also interesting at the same time as we start to see more soldiers put in stone? they also become more generic at the same time and this is happening again across the country a very generic universal image. so the idea that every confederate soldier was heroic that will also be the message for the union to for the united states. that all civil war soldiers were brave. and loyal but what we also see in this kind of generic image is a loss of individuality. this is a monument from north carolina. and you can find this exact same cookie cutter.
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monument the image communities all over the country this became big business. once we get into the 1890s in turn of the century, that's really the high point of monument building. course confederate and union veterans are dying. and there's an even. if there's an intensifying belief that again the story of the civil war has to be told and the story needs to be one of heroism and sacrifice. the other thing that starts to happen and a term you'll hear and i still hear is that they all fought for what they believed in they all thought for a cause now the lost cause we you know that in some ways is kind of vague lost cause, but we know what it meant. it was pretty clear what it meant coming out of the aftermath of the war but even
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for union veterans and their descendants going forward the discussion will be that they fought for what they believed in and not a lot of acknowledgment. well, what did that really mean? and what about people that didn't want to serve right? what about conscription? what about desertion? what about demoralization that there's no room for that in this narrative that's starting to really stick the other thing. i want to point out in this monument is you don't really get a sense that this soldier has suffered or gone through anything terrible, right? it's he's kind of frozen in time. his uniform is clean and looks he looks well fed. so right we're missing that too. we're missing the real and again, sufferings and challenges of soldiering so that's where like i said the memory is it's becoming more sanitized more simplistic and nationalized and these are all these different ways that happens. yeah. this opinion a little bit and you saying about like how the
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soldier was like clean and like nice looking kind of made me think of it on that. the civil war was kind of necessary for america to progress as a country more like i don't know like is that something that's popular or is that just kind of like an observed now like from a historian's point of view you've heard that you've heard that you've heard it from just like teachers in the past without much of an explanation of why have the rest of you heard this idea that the civil war was necessary. hmm. i don't know what to make of that. why was it necessary to good? i guess like looking at like history especially like european history, which you know a lot of the people the time they were pretty much came from there. like there's a history of civil wars in european countries. so i guess they kind of applied that to america. if i go up and they had to have one at some point. that could be an idea for it. yeah, so go ahead. i've also heard that more than
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it being necessary. it's just inevitable. yes, and like yes, there was gonna have to be some kind of ultimate answer to the question of slavery. yes, and it wasn't gonna be like popular sovereignty or you know these kind of give and take compromises that had led up during the antebellum period and that some kind of final answer was gonna have to come and so i heard teachers say that like, i mean the civil war is kind of right culmination of all that yeah, no totally and it's an answer to you know, sometimes you'll still hear this idea of well slavery was gonna fade away and most white southerners didn't own slaves and so it was the aggression of the north. this is this is sort of two echoes of the lost cause that their victims and that it didn't really have to be this way, but that's interesting to hear more of that to me. it's a difference between being inevitable and being necessary. that's really intriguing. yeah. i think it had to happen because even like other wars like the
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american revolution. it's always some form of two different branches of elites fight each other and you know all like elite groups want power and they have to get that by whopping out the other elite group, and i think it's just kind of it was just inevitably gonna happen. it's it's kind of a cynical and depressing view, isn't it that had to happen or that it had to happen and slavery? yeah, well that that's really interesting gives me some for food for thought. i want to talk about this monument for a minute and then we'll we're gonna move on to some of the more the myth making but again remember monuments they they start out early. again that connecticut monument may well have dated from the war itself. there's a monument one of the very first ones on a battlefield at the battle of first bull run or first manassas. and then they're more and more and more and they're changing
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the landscape. they are not just a course in cemeteries. they're in public places, especially. you know quartz house squares and parks and and so we're living through a time of course where those monuments many of them for confederate monitors are coming down, but they're all coming up. they're being erected and like i said omnipresent during this time of 20 30 40 years after the war. this monument though dates from 1951. so it kind of pushes us into the 20th. it definitely pushes us into 20th century. the reason i wanted to highlight it for a minute, obviously because we we went many of us most of us many of us went to vicksburg and we were talking about vicksburg. we need a chance to see the monument when we visited but it was put there on largely do the efforts of the udc. it cost quite a bit of money to put it up and there was a special ceremony when it was dedicated in july of 1951.
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it is not a coincidences 1951 right? do you all know what was happening in in the south in 1950s? yeah, civil rights movement, right? so rights movement, there's been we have the aftermath of plessy versus ferguson and it's not, you know separate but equal jim crow south has been reality, but there have been you know pushes and attempts and and activism from african americans as well as white americans to do away with those restrictions and to provide and restore citizenship and voting rights to african americans and this is where we start to see that alignment with a lot of the memory of the confederacy to politics, you know, nationwide. but you can see here these couple of these quotes that i took out of the speech. this is a state senator, and i wanted to draw your attention to
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what he says here about i'm gonna have to read it from the screen real quick about alabama soldiers, right? he's talking he's he's speaking to them as if they're listening the dead they're at vicksburg, alabama soldiers. you did not fight in vain the ideal you fought for the principles you believed in we still fight for and believe in states rights so states rights, there it is again. and we think this fight will never be settled until it is settled right because states rights are right rights. and what are the states rights about again in 1950? civil rights, right? sorry. aggregation. yeah, exactly segregation when we're standing almost right where we're very close to where governor george wallace stood himself and said, you know segregation forever right? yeah. okay, so if this push for like states rights in this, you know states right sentiment still exists, is there any continuing thoughts of secession or any
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continuing just sort of general ideas that that's something that could happen again or is that just been given up? now or then i think you're always this is a kind of perennial view of you know the south and even other parts of the country, let's just secede but it's not. it's not anywhere close to right it becoming a reality sure. there are still threats of it and it goes back to you again all this focus on the idea that the confederates were right. that the whole idea of the confederacy was right and that like i said, that should be emulated and like i said the interesting thing that's happening is there are allies there are people that support this idea across the country. so it's not just the south because there's speaking out there finding supporters in other places. from new hampshire and our state legislature actually just recently voted down a bill that was introduced to secede.
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there we go. yes. yes. it's still around. i didn't know new hampshire was talking about it, but every song i know texas keep saying they're going to secede. they keep trying. i don't see it really happening. yeah, but but it's not it is a dream still for some folks. yeah. i wanted to also just real quick. talk about the second section here. he's talking about those soldiers may long be a reminder of those who see it of the unanswering devotion to study the valor and courage of these men who gave their lives for a cause. they thought was right the cause they knew was right. so again the cause it's big but that it was right and that they're brave. and this is of course, you know. plotted and it published its published in the newspapers and it becomes like i said, it's sort of becomes an orthodoxy really for a lot of white southerners to to believe this and to accept it as there's no
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other way to think about the and the soldiers themselves. so this gets back to tate's point about just trying to figure out what's going on with the north and why are they accepting these things? yeah, i don't want in any way. convey the idea that northerners just take all this and move on with their lives and say, you know, essentially yes, we believe the lost cause we accepted they they don't there is division. there is debate and of course it becomes very political. it's political from the get-go and it becomes even more politicized. on and off through this era really throughout the era in varying ways the for the union and for the united states for the victors. there is certainly the message of saving the union. but remember the war became
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awarded end slavery really later when lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation, we know that a lot of white northerners were not supportive of ending slavery. and so it is complicated and understanding the centrality of slavery for the union cause so that's going to come out in some of the memories too. that's going to come out in the way. it's it's recounted. essentially by like some people accepting lost calls movement. was it like see in the south as a from formidable opponent or like what do they have to gain from accepting that? that's a great question. what do you think? what do you think southerners are northerners gains? oh, i mean i guess because at the time they were still the racial hostilities. so i wonder if that's like a sort of accepting that or more of it's like, you know, they don't want all that bloodshed to be in veins that it wasn't just like war for northerners what
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are the rest of you all think? what why would northerners embrace this and what would they gain by it? wasn't really you know, super in favor of oh, let's you know enslavering this out either. it's not like, you know, it's a false statement to say that the war at least originally wasn't about slavery for them at least so. you know, especially when you come to you know, they're still you know, racism and segregation stuff up north so when it sort of gets that point then they're saying okay. we didn't just fight for this we fought for you know our country rather than this that we don't necessarily believe. well, and again, it's it's real. it's real challenges and real debates and and intensive discussions over of course the the civil rights of african americans of the of what to do
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about the jim crow south what to do about about a segregation and this is not going away in the national spotlight and i think for you know, it's you know other historians have read about this in the 20th century. this becomes a way to kind of push aside those concerns and those that activism those you know, desire and demands for civil rights on the part of african americans full really for white americans to just lay it down and then embrace the lost cause but it's yeah, i know it's not easy to understand and i think we're still sorting it out what happened and we know what happened. we know that this that lost cause really becomes dominant in so many ways. i remember hearing some of these things growing up in connecticut, you know, i probably have told you i became enamored with much of these stories of the sort of you know, south and let's not forget to what's going to happen. it's not just i'm talking today quite a bit about you know.
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monuments and publications and parades. there's also media. there's movies. they're gonna play a role the birthland nation going with the wind. they're going to have the same message and it's of it's very appealing for many white americans to watch gone with the wind and feel that there really was something unique and admirable about the antebellum south that is an escape from their own worlds and escape from the changes of the late 20th century right with immigration and urbanization and all these things are happening in this country. it just becomes like a fantasy, right? go into like acceptance is kind of like putting it behind because i mean you really you can talk about the philosophy all day long, but at the end of day like you're just now rebuilding the country you have to worry about reintegrating the south into congress you are now looking at foreign policy again, you're trying to get your
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economy back up and running which now that we also the issue of there's no more free labor in the south that the price for cotton is about to get a lot more expensive that there's going to be a lot more economic changes and a lot more trade changes. so i feel like some of it was also like we're just gonna accept it because we have to move on from trying to think about it philosophically and try to look look more practically in logistically. yeah, i think i think that's true for like i said for for a lot of white americans who just you know, remember, you know after the war ended and it was real war weeriness radicals had all that power and they try to bring in change and and african-americans themselves were pushing forward and it was really a kind of a almost like a a feeling of just yeah not wanting to talk about anymore not wanting to do with any more turning the page. and so that i think was an advantage for the lost cause to kind of fill a vacuum where other parts of the country they didn't want to relive what happened. they didn't want to go back and
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necessarily even march around and talk about, you know, some aspects of the war and so the but the south did they wanted to keep talking about it in a very specific way and like i said it fulfilled political agendas and other agendas of the day, yeah. it was certainly later on but it couldn't have hurt the movement that birth of a nation was screened at the white house right and legitimize really by president wilson and wilson said it was history made with lightning. i'm not going to get the exact quote. but yes, and he is a native virginian he he was at lost cause her i mean his views on the war were very much in step with all these things. we've been talking about and you're right he gave his blessing to that movie, which is atrociously racist and was there were there were protests against it, you know by by african americans, but it was shown in a lot of people watched it and it had incredible power, you know,
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right? we know that movies and and television shows and things like that. they have power sort of popular culture in changing people's minds and thinking things are certain way even when they're not necessarily that way, you know, the narrative that is come out of all this it's just a it's a like i said, it's a simplistic narrative and it's one that you know, it's got villains. it's got heroes and it just seemed to be a way to explain what happened and why but it wasn't necessarily history and i do want to of course acknowledge that african americans were not being silent. they were not just letting this happen and and sort of you don't anyway. refusing to challenge it, but of course, it's difficult and it's even dangerous to challenge some of these views. this is a quote from frederick douglass who spoke at they still called a decoration day in 1878.
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he was blunt. there's you can find other examples of him saying things like this, you know, the famous orator and former slave and he's saying to the audience in new york city. there was a right and a wrong side to the late war which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget you know the sort of sentimentality this again this romanticism of the south and the confederacy, you know, he is saying bluntly and directly, you know, i'm not going to forget and we shouldn't forget he's speaking to the audience. they're just are not monuments and and other examples of you know memories that. as much counter the lost cause one of the few exceptions. is this monument that's in boston to robert goldshaw. who was the commander of the 54th, massachusetts the african-american regimen coming out of massachusetts famously died before wagner, but even
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this monument the focus is on is on him. he is on his horse and his man if you can make it out are sort of in the bed in the background. this was dedicated in 1897, but it's unique. and you know in studying memories of the war, especially former enslaved people. there's also fact that many of them didn't want to remember slavery and what they went through and to publicly look to talk about it, you know it is still an issue for the national park service to ensure. a diverse audience visits their battlefields and their other parks and you know historical places that commemorate the civil war because really into a recently and some of the started to shift and change is it was much of it was a message of the lost cause and also a message of the idea of heroic white men all
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believing in their cause and all doing the right thing and there wasn't much allowance. right for the ambiguities of the civil war and for the role of african-americans that has started to shift now without controversy. there's lots of people that aren't that happy. this is happened. but their story is often forgotten. on this very san version say like hey, i experienced some really brutal things. and i want that acknowledged or i feel like it's yes. yeah, i don't i won't own child to think that yeah. yes and even in the book that i did on this connecticut regimen the 16th, connecticut. they debate within themselves about the story that starts to be told about them and monuments and who you know, even who's they can end up at andersonville who's going to get to go down to andersonville and dedicate the monument. they put there they have a member of their unit a man named ira forbes. who starts breading the lost
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cause he was from connecticut served in a connecticut regiment and he becomes an apologist for the confederacy and he's basically ostracized from the regimen. so yes again, there are plenty of examples, but we don't hear these examples and they're not part of the public story. that's what i'm getting. okay, right. so back to gettysburg and again this era when we took a bit of a detour with the 1950s monument, but but mostly i wanted to you know to track these years the first years right after the civil war and the early part of the 20th century where we have the most monuments going up or high point of monument building. we see the lost cause ascendant. we see these veteran groups coming together. and they are. reunifying and really again fusing around a very specific story of heroism and sacrifice and that's best exemplified by the reunion at gettysburg in 1913. where wilson gave a speech. this is a picture of a union
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veteran and a confederate veteran literally shaking hands and there's some great footage that you can see of this reunion where they reenact pick its charge. they their old men, right so they can't run across the field, but they walk and something like 50,000 people attended this reunion and the message was unity. the message was unity and forgetting or downplaying division hatred anger bitterness. at least for white americans so here's a little more of wilson's speech which i just think is so insightful. so let's just take a minute to look at this. i'm gonna i'm gonna go ahead and read it. how am how am i doing with time good? okay.
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what have they meant in meeting the last 50 years? they have meant peace and union and vigor and the maturity and might of a great nation. the last 50 years. he's just saying the united states has done wonderfully. well, it's come together. it's been strong how wholesome and healing the peace has been we have found one another again as brothers in comrades in arms brothers and arms that's another very common term that you still hear today about the civil war brother against brother. i can't speak to the point. i think you were making halley about this being necessary right? he seems to be echoing that. right, no longer wait commerce and arms enemies no longer generous friends rather than our rather rather. our battle is long past the coral forgotten except that we shall not forget the splendid valor. there it is the manly devotion of the men that enrayed against each other now grasping hands and smiling into each other's
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eyes how complete the union has become how dear to us all so forget the bitterness remember the valor so i'm going to end with this. this is the accepted narrative that again had evolved and formed. from the war itself through the into the 20th century and still with us in many ways. what? was forgotten. out of that narrative and what do you think still needs to be remembered? yeah, josh, probably the ptsd the there are people that were addicted to drugs after the war and people that lost their limbs. they couldn't they couldn't function hardly after the war. that's right. there's no allowance for that in this story in those monuments in the it's not that you're not going to find it. you can find it if you start
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looking i've discovered that myself my own scholarship, but but you're not generally going to find these stories if you just kind of pay attention again to the public. memory the public narrative of the like you said the real suffering especially psychological which some you know historians push back on that we can even talk about it, but we know what happened the men tell us this if you pay attention. as well that both sides like quality each other and we shouldn't let go to another civil war because we saw other countries in ruins. and we had like take a decade couple decades to rebuild itself. right so different. yes, and yes to remember that the south there was rule destruction and loss. i'm not sure you think that's been forgotten. are here because like the country was in ruins and envy stage of it in the international stage from domestic and what not this who's in the rooms afterwards?
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well, remember when we talked about georgia and sherman's march, you know, there was real destruction that he left but not as much as some of it gets exaggerated to. but yes, and i recognize your point about you know, we looked at some of those images like of richmond just burned to the ground, you know, atlanta was burned to the ground largely accidentally but still and it's it's all been you all know atlanta. it's all rebuilt, right? it has that i don't know if he still has a slogan. too busy to hate or something, but that you know, it's just sort of tried to move on from from its from his past. so recognizing some of that. but i think right you want to balance it i would say with um again, you know it happened and the the fact that you know we don't want to i think pull back into just the victimization of the confederates because that's that that you do see some stress on the destruction, especially like i'm thinking of like a movie like going with the wind
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which really tries to highlight that of being victimized. yeah. oh remembering like the people like his legends like kind of like with the lost cause we kind of need to like remember i guess is just people and like you know that all like the stories of pretty much all of them. and recognize it, you know, they say light bower they all have power recognize. there were people some were scared some were bowers. it's kind of balance. they're human. yeah, that's right. that's right. yeah. remember like, i feel like we kind of treat. like there's a 10-3 use of like racism in a pre civil war post civil war kind of narrative in america and as if like there weren't any failures and reconstruction and that everything was solved after the
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war was over but as we've seen in class like following 18 five there were plenty of failures and even like unresolved questions that were left due to kind of the hectic nature of reconstruction and and the way that we didn't. have a a totally streamlined or like effective healing process following the war and like you still see that today of just look at karen cox's book like we're still the fact that we're still struggling with these questions today shows that we did completely healed. really? well said really well said i think reconstruction doesn't until recently, i would say there just hasn't been as much public interest in reconstruction. and now we have some new monuments. we do have some renewed
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attention to what happened during reconstruction both hopeful and positive but also, incredibly troubling that it is a call again. it's a complicated story but the civil war it's almost like it's just easier to want to reenact, you know civil war battles, but now i want to reenact. some moment from from reconstruction because it's really messy, but but you're right i would agree with that and something we talk about in the end of our textbook right in the epilogue about it's almost. you know just sort of coming to terms with trauma. it's like a national trauma is just looking at it. with eyes wide open and recognizing the you know parts of it that the human and suffering psychological both physical and taking as a whole and not just looking at it in this very narrow narrow triumphant way, you know gets back to the point. how about that that it was sort of necessary and and then we moved on yeah, it's not clear
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that we really have like there's a reason that in this class we cover more than just four years. yes, right like a civil wars more than just like that microcosm of actual physical conflict. it's everything before and everything after it does not context is excellent, and and i told you all that this class is supposed to only be on a civil war and you can tell i mean, we're already running out of time and we're not going to get to everything i wanted to reconstruction and even today you all had some great questions pushing us into the 20th century and today. it's almost like the entirety of american history if you sit down and think about it and understanding why it happened and going all the way back to the beginning of the country and then it's repercussions that still as you said they still directly connect us. and he last yeah shawn get better the confederacy itself did at times ignore states rights? yes, thank you for reminding us of that. yes. yeah, i mean, i think i could
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probably yeah, but a whole book on this question right that that and i hope that's much of what you're getting from my class. is that justine looking at the story of the confederacy in many ways. it doesn't even come close to what the lost cause said. you can just look at somebody who's basic as the confederate constitution and the reality of what the confederate government did where they they could not right they could not. always in many cases follow states' rights or respect states rights because they, you know, jefferson davis and his administration and the confederate congress had to do things they fell to win the war as extreme as considering freeing slaves and arming them that that the war just completely revolutionized in the words of my advisor emery thomas revolutionized the you know the south last comments how would you more time? okay. well, thanks y'all you did great. thanks so much for the questions really good ones.
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i appreciate it, and i'll see everybody next tuesday.
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by searching or the 90s i'm the john f. kennedy under fives, antoinette antonio and i'm janice hodgson. i'm the museum curator here for the librarian museum. i'm alan price director here at the librarian museum, and we're delighted to welcome you to a virtual tour of first children caroline and john jr. in the white house. welcome. i hope you'll you'll enjoy it with us.


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