How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history


Listen to how this textbook describes slavery. “The master often had a barbecue or a picnic
for his slaves. Then they had a great frolic. Even while working in the cotton fields they
sang songs. The beat of the music and the richness of
their voices made work seem light.” Yikes. That’s from History of Georgia, a textbook
published in 1954 that was taught across junior high schools in Georgia for decades. That sort of language is part of an intellectual
movement called the “Lost Cause” — a distorted version of American Civil War history
that’s been prevalent in the South for a long time. It took shape soon after the defeat of the
Confederate States in the war, when Southern historians like Edward Pollard and former
Confederate Gen. Jubal Early started preserving the South’s perspective through their writings. They framed the Confederate cause as a heroic
defense of the Southern way of life against the overwhelming forces in the North. That narrative has a few basic tenets: the
glorification of Confederate soldiers who died for a cause they believed in, the belief
that slavery was a benevolent institution, and, maybe most importantly, that slavery
was not the root cause of the war. The Lost Cause is one of the most notoriously
effective efforts to rewrite history, and it was done by the losing side. So how did it become so deeply rooted in Southern
memory? Blame the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The UDC was founded in Nashville in 1894 to
preserve Confederate culture for generations to come. The women who made up the group descended
from elite antebellum families and they used their social and political clout to spread
the pro-Southern version of the war as “real history.” You’ve probably seen their efforts to honor
the Confederacy, but maybe you didn’t know it was the UDC. They’re the ones who covered the Southern
landscape with memorials for Confederate leaders and soldiers. They used their fundraising and lobbying skills
to pressure local governments into erecting monuments in prominent public spaces like
courthouses and state capitols. Installed here next to the state Capitol by
the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The United Daughters of the Confederacy donated
this memorial to the city back in the ’30s. They put them along roadsides and in parks. Any place that was remotely relevant to the
Confederacy was memorialized. By the early 20th century, the UDC had 100,000
members in chapters spread all over the country, but mostly in former Confederate states. And there’s a reason they grew so quickly
during that time. So we’re talking about roughly three decades
after the end of the war, and the Confederate veterans themselves are beginning to die off. So there is this push to find ways to commemorate
it. Because the big challenge by 1900 was there’s
a new generation of white Southerners being born and they never experienced the war years. That push is visible. Most of the Confederate monuments were erected
during the UDC’s height of influence. There’s a rhetoric around monuments — that
we want to get this thing built before all of that generation has died off. And Dr. Karen Cox wrote the book on the UDC, and
I asked her if it was fair to say the group established the Lost Cause as historical fact
in the South. Oh, my God, yeah! They were the leaders of the Lost Cause into
the 20th century, and they made it a movement about vindication. Just to give you an idea of how effective
they were: They successfully lobbied for a Confederate Memorial in Arlington National
Cemetery, which US President Woodrow Wilson proudly unveiled to a cheering crowd. Now that’s influence, right? Monuments are the least of what they did. I mean they are the most visible and tangible,
but the work with children was far more influential. It turns out, a central UDC objective is shaping
how children think about the war and their Southern heritage. One of their most powerful tools? Textbooks. Take a look at this pamphlet, called “A
Measuring Rod for Text-Books.” It was written by “the illustrious Southern
Historian Miss Mildred Rutherford” an educator, orator, and an author of Southern history
textbooks. She was also very pro-slavery. The pamphlet announced the formation of a
textbook review committee featuring prominent Southerners, like five former Confederate
generals. This group was committed to spreading the
“truths of Confederate history” so they instructed school boards to reject any textbooks
that did not “accord full justice to the South.” And they urged libraries to deface every book
in their collection that didn’t measure up by writing the words “Unjust to the South”
clearly on its cover. This pamphlet was shared widely with school
boards throughout the South, and UDC-backed committees closely monitored history books
to make sure “Northern influence” never reached classrooms. So the core language of an approved textbook
aligned precisely with that of the Lost Cause. You know, stuff like “The Confederacy lost
in the War between the States. But Georgia never forgot to honor her Confederate
soldiers…” History of Georgia was on the UDC’s approved
list. It was also written by E. Merton Coulter,
a self-described “Southern historian” and historian-described white supremacist. They understand that how you educate — who
wins the writing game, who wins the battle over history — ultimately wins the war. That’s the big fight for the UDC. But their work with children went further
than the classrooms. The UDC formed an auxiliary group called the
Children of the Confederacy, which was designed to get kids born in former Confederate states
to actively participate in their version of history. Group leaders had kids recite call-and-response
“truths” from something called the “Confederate Catechism.” Children, up to the age of 18, would compete
and be rewarded for memorizing long passages of Lost Cause rhetoric. So it would be like an after-school thing,
you know, like that was your club. You would go after school to the meeting of
the Children of the Confederacy and your leader might teach you songs of the South like “Dixie”
or other songs that were considered Southern patriotic songs. They would have them write essays, go visit
the veterans, and learn this catechism. Children were also the centerpiece of their
community’s monument unveilings, like this “living flag” at the dedication of the
Stonewall Jackson monument in Richmond. Yes, those are schoolchildren. The UDC’s efforts shaped the identities of
children who grew up with the Lost Cause. They made history personal, and that made
their story last longer. Generations of generations of children learning
that narrative in a variety of ways grow up to be, you know, segregationists in the ’50s
and ’60s. Because that’s been drilled into them since
they were children. After World War I, the UDC started losing
steam. But the damage was done. The monuments were in place and the textbooks
they wrote remained in Southern classrooms until the late ’70s. And the women’s group did it all without
the right to vote or participate in politics. You can still get glimmers of this Lost Cause
memory of the war And I think the UDC, to a great extent was
— that was their goal. So the next time someone says the Confederate
monuments are about just know that that’s exactly what the United
Daughters of the Confederacy wants you to think.

100 Replies to “How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history

  1. The Yankees don't tell the whole truth. And I'm also tired of an American false educational purpose that brainwashes pupils into believing all people are the same, genetic variation is real, it's ok to be different.

  2. I feel bad now because I realized I read stuff like this in Louisiana and I'm not old and I believed I knew slavery was wrong but always thought slavery had little to do with the war and I feel embarrassed to have thought that way

  3. So what your saying is the people who write the books that go into our children's schools can be very influential?

  4. Wow, this is a piece of Southern history I was completely unaware of folks, sheez. i suppose the idiom that "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world?" Wade Goodwin, The FAIR Digest, Cape Town, South Africa

  5. These confederate racist were all democrats, but these same democrats switched to Republicans. Now you have today's Republicans blaming the democrats back then for, Jim Crow laws, segregation, racism, and the mistreatment of black people. So in reality, they're just blaming themselves.

  6. Funny this is America. They have lied to ALL of us about our history . This isn’t just a south thing. America had a knack for changing the facts in their favor to make them look good when in reality we are the worst people on the planet

  7. Now the narrative they are trying to push is it was the Democrats that’s were to blame and the Republicans that were against slavery. Except they are more than happy to leave out the fact that Democrats of the south at that time were Conservatives (the same conservatives that are now Republicans) and the Republicans at the time were the Liberals (liberals that are now Democrats); which of course they emphatically deny.

  8. The Civil War was an attempted coup against the US govt. They meant to take over, not form a separate nation. Secession was part of the process, not the end goal. After the war, all of these people were still American citizens. We are still trying to appease them. Remember this when Trump is dragged from the WH by his heels.

  9. I went to school in both the north and the south. I had to learn two versions of history, like it was different countries.

  10. In another attack against the southerner I was happy to see it's cause.The war wasent over slavery but rather over who will control the new lands taken by President Polk.Lands that belonged by Canada and Mexico.

  11. Slavery was never the cause of the war

    the north needed soldiers that’s why it positioned itself to undermine the south by promising freedom and their freedom never happened yet

    Every federal election in the United States requires a passing of a bill to allow black people to vote

    The north was bankrupt and thought by taking over the south it would be able to leverage the black slaves as assets on the books.

    The truth is the slaves were never Fried and in fact the laws and regulations of the United States has taken away the freedom of all the whites as well.

    So we are now all slaves and owned by the federal reserve Ted borrows money on her account without our consent and we have to pay it back

  12. I was under the impression that the attempt to change the "slavery narrative" (in school text books) was within the last 10 yrs. But this show that it truly is a systematic attempt that has continued among White Supremacist for hundreds of years.

  13. All of the history books in school are lies, slavery didn't happen as taught and history compulsory education ruined history in the minds for 120 years.

  14. Very sad that dishonest things like this are still put out as fact. The South absolutely did not start the war- it was northern aggression. Sure, there were people in the south, and in the north, that supported the horror of slavery. But, most of the people in the south did not fight to preserve slavery. Some did, but most did not. The war was mostly about money, and states rights. Lincoln’s writings are clear- he was against slavery, but the reason he gave for the war was to preserve the union. History is not taught by the losers of wars- just the opposite. Most southerners hated slavery. Look it up- Robert E. Lee released his slaves, and U.S. Grant kept his- even after the war ended. That’s quite a contradiction to what the history books tell us.

  15. So if slavery was the sole cause of the U.S. civil war? Then why did the civil war almost spark off in 1832 under Andrew Jackson?

  16. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The very idea that a bunch of women having bake sales and changed the whole history of the world. How gullible are you people.

  17. Over half of those women had a black parent. They were passing for white. So therefore had to behave worser towards blacks.

  18. The southern states that decided to secede from the United States created the Confederate States. This caused president Lincoln to go south and take the south back by force(WAR).

  19. Southern Democrats moved on and adapted, now they just ruin most western and eastern seaboard cities with bad policy. They still doctor textbooks with distortion as well, that one they perfected.

  20. I didn’t live in the days when there was slavery, and I am not black. But Over the years I have had more then one person call me boy, and I would tell them if you call me boy again I will reach down your throat and pull your heart out. So I can understand how black peoples might feel. My father always told me, if you want respect you must give respect. But,very sad to say some people don’t think that way.

  21. In the south, it was United Daughters of the Confederacy which were hugely influential in the rewriting of grade-school textbooks to show a false history of the Confederacy and the Civil War. Now, it's the Religious Right (Evangelical Christians) in the south that are rewriting grade-school textbooks to show a false history of human and animal evolution.

  22. These people are sick!!! Molesting the minds of children congrats usa you truly show your colors. Everything will be exposed.

  23. 😳 @ Rewritten history by the side that lost in a war ???
    🤔
    Only a white on white conflict within the same very nation can produce that one … 😉

  24. White women are down w/ white supremacy, never would of guessed from them never lifting a finger to stop it in 500 years and giving birth and raising the people who fill it's ranks. You learn something new every day…

  25. The barbecues and picnics were usually lynchings of blacks. Wake up!! The South.wanted to keep.SLAVERY PERIOD!! AND THEN HAD THE NERVE TO CALL BLACK PEOPLE LAZY!!
    I grew up in Ga and drank from the WHITE ONLY STAINLESS STEEL ELECTRIC FOUNTAIN and went into the WHITE ONLY STORES IN THE 60'S ON PURPOSE!!

  26. America – if we can’t get passed this divided ideal we will not survive much longer .
    America – if we keep labeling our citizens with race instead of country of birth we will not survive much longer.
    America – if we keep locking up our youth we will not survive much longer .

  27. But actually a bunch of the southern masters of slaves treated their slaves with respect and treated them like their family

  28. I'm inclined to believe this but it's pretty ironic that it's coming from Vox. Vox is just as bad as the UDC, if not worse.

  29. Why is it the people who say Confederate monuments are about remembering history are the same people who are quick to say slavery ended a long time ago and blacks need to get over it?

  30. The funny part of all of this is the people in the comments. We have ALL been lied to ALL of our lives about our true history on this planet. History truly is written by the war victors. And war has been a continuous part of human existence the entire time. It’s amazing how much of a lie we live. Can’t really blame the current generations for their ignorance if they really don’t know what they represent because their views have been pounded into the collective subconscious.

  31. It's called His-Story for a reason. Once you get that it's his-story you can Move-On to bigger and better things. It's his-Jesus, His-God, His-intelligences, His-holidays, His-laws. God bless the child that's got it's own. Own God, own mind, own beliefs etc., etc. etc.

  32. So indoctrination from your parents, active learning in school AND peer bonding all combined are actually what perpetuate racist beliefs and ensure that people grow up segregationist in 2019, long after the Civil Rights Act was passed. This is what makes it so easy for the alt right to get a positive reaction in this states. The seeds of racism were planted a long time ago, to ensure it survived long after slavery. The things these evil women did were tantamount to brainwashing and child abuse.

  33. The new slavery is dependency Jim crow advanced slavery as long as they must depend on you there your slaves, which makes independence day a fraud.Any time self dependency is in these socall chosen people face they go willie Lynch.

  34. In my opinion all veterans should be respected no matter what side they were on. I have never heard of the lost cause but the root cause of the civil war was not slavery. Look at the federal tax histories and you will see that it was a war about tariffs. Edit: I was reading the comments and so many people were saying that they grew up in the south and that this is so true. I live in the south in Mississippi and I have experience any of this. It could be since I live in north Mississippi or my life is boring I don't understand.

  35. So, that's why it took Alabama until 2006 to finally legalise interethnic couples to marry.

    But their school system is still very much segregated,…across "income or zipcode" lines aka the exclusion of black neighbourhoods Anno 2019.

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