The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The "Great Truth" about the "Lost Cause"
James W. Loewen
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Most Americans hold basic misconceptions about the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the actions of subsequent neo-Confederates. For example, two thirds of Americans―including most history teachers―think the Confederate States seceded for “states’ rights.” This error persists because most have never read the key documents about the Confederacy.
These documents have always been there. When South Carolina seceded, it published “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” The document actually opposes states’ rights. Its authors argue that Northern states were ignoring the rights of slave owners as identified by Congress and in the Constitution. Similarly, Mississippi’s “Declaration of the Immediate Causes …” says, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery―the greatest material interest of the world.”
Later documents in this collection show how neo-Confederates obfuscated this truth, starting around 1890. The evidence also points to the centrality of race in neo-Confederate thought even today and to the continuing importance of neo-Confederate ideas in American political life. The 150th anniversary of secession and civil war provides a moment for all Americans to read these documents, properly set in context by award-winning sociologist and historian James W. Loewen and co-editor, Edward H. Sebesta, to put in perspective the mythology of the Old South.
an inferior race, which was forcibly carried along and made to do its part. The negro has seen the great difference and feels it is best for both races. Repression of the negro vote will gradually pass away, and he will become as regular a voter as his white brother, when he loses his identity as a political factor separate and distinct from others. White immigrants will move so rapidly now that the negro will be over-shadowed everywhere, as he is now in the localities where the whites outnumber
slavery Wm. A. Smith, President of Randolph-Macon, quit his duties as a preacher & in 1857–8–9–60 traveled all over Virginia preaching slavery & proving it was right by the Bible. Yours Truly Jno. S. Mosby E. H. HINTON (1852–1916), “THE NEGRO AND THE SOUTH: REVIEW OF RACE RELATIONSHIPS AND CONDITIONS,” AUGUST 1907.29 In this remarkable essay, Hinton, a railroad owner who died in Atlanta in 1916, begins with a wondrous depiction of slavery. His account of Reconstruction gets the facts
surrounded by the negroes. Our coming up and surrounding the negroes on all sides, with the old cannons at each corner, made things look very squally. Through the coolness of our leaders the hotheads were kept quiet. The negroes, being caught between two forces of whites, were intimidated, and after a good deal of entreaty by the leaders of both parties the crowds were quieted. I am sorry to say that all meetings in the State did not end so peaceably. There were several bloody riots in which a
and political wisdom in forming and sustaining this political fabric; and whether we have not constantly inclined most strongly to the side of liberty, and been the first to see first to resist the encroachments of power. In one thing only we are inferior—the arts of gain. We acknowledge that we are less wealthy than the Northern section of this Union; but I trace this mainly to the fiscal action of this Government, which has extracted much from and spent little among us. Had it been the
political fortunes upon their hostility to slavery everywhere. This is the party to whom the people of the North have committed the government. They raised their standard in 1856, and were barely defeated; they entered the Presidential contest again, in 1860, and succeeded. The prohibition of slavery in the territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races, disregard of all constitutional guarantees in its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders, and