Lost cause and memory in America: then and now

Author/Creator ORCID





Towson Seminar

Citation of Original Publication



[From paper:] As the Civil War came to an end, America found itself in a strange state, one it had never experienced. For the last four years, the country had been torn in two, fighting a deadly, historically significant war. Looking to move past the war and the destruction it brought, the defeated former Confederate States of America sought to re-assimilate themselves into the country. The solution decided upon became known as Lost Cause memory. According to historian David Blight, Lost Cause memory is easily defined as “a public memory, a cult of the fallen soldier, a righteous political cause defeated only by a superior industrial might, a heritage community awaiting its exodus, and a people forming a collective identity as victims and survivors.”1 Put simply, it was the South making up excuses for their transgressions, while simultaneously corrupting the true cause and motives of the war. Immediately after the Civil War, Lost Cause memory emerged through literature, a status promotion of Confederate leaders, a romanization of antebellum southern life and slavery, and Confederate excuses for motive and defeat. Although the Civil War ended 154 years ago, the effects of the immediate aftermath can still be felt in today’s world. Today, Lost Cause memory manifests itself still through use of Confederate flags, the erection and defense of Confederate monuments, and modern-day sympathizer organizations, such the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also known as SCV.