Pop Culture May Finally Be Ready to Surrender the Myth of a Noble,
Confederate Lost Cause . . . by Victoria Bynum, June, 23, 2016
The events in Jones County demonstrate a larger truth of dissent and violence that erupted throughout the South during the Civil War. This research presents a crucial corrective to the Lost Cause version of history that afflicts us still—not simply in movies and novels, but also in the classroom, where even my college students have frequently assured me that “Granny said our slaves were treated just like family in the old days,” or on internet message boards and chat rooms, where self-proclaimed authorities insist the Civil War was never really about slavery.
Scholars like myself have long struggled against this version of Civil War history. It was created only around the turn of the 20th century, when a few influential Northern and Southern historians strove to heal the war-damaged United States by creating a more conciliatory vision of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Denouncing the war as a needless slaughter brought on by politicians, historians such as William Archibald Dunning and his followers portrayed the Reconstruction that followed as a tragic era of “Negro rule,” carpetbagger corruption, and scalawag treason. The Dunning School soft-peddled slavery’s role as the major cause of war. The myth of a Civil War fought over “states’ rights” hardened into orthodoxy, providing a “noble cause” for white Southerners seeking to sanctify the sacrifices and deaths of their ancestors.read the full article here