Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South: 1865-1913 / Edition 1

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After Lee and Grant met at Appomatox Court House in 1865 to sign the document ending the long and bloody Civil War, the South at last had to face defeat as the dream of a Confederate nation melted into the Lost Cause. Through an examination of memoirs, personal papers, and postwar Confederate rituals such as memorial day observances, monument unveilings, and veterans' reunions, Ghosts of the Confederacy probes into how white southerners adjusted to and interpreted their defeat and explores the cultural implications of a central event in American history. Foster argues that, contrary to southern folklore, southerners actually accepted their loss, rapidly embraced both reunion and a New South, and helped to foster sectional reconciliation and an emerging social order. He traces southerners' fascination with the Lost Cause—showing that it was rooted as much in social tensions resulting from rapid change as it was in the legacy of defeat—and demonstrates that the public celebration of the war helped to make the South a deferential and conservative society. Although the ghosts of the Confederacy still haunted the New South, Foster concludes that they did little to shape behavior in it—white southerners, in celebrating the war, ultimately trivialized its memory, reduced its cultural power, and failed to derive any special wisdom from defeat.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book, of interest to all students of southern history, is also noteworthy for its imaginative blending of cultural and social with political history."—History: Reviews of New Books

"What happened to the South's memory of the Civil War?...The whole process is brilliantly described by Gaines Foster in this fascinating book."—The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution

"This may well be the most thoughtful and stimulating book ever written on the myth of the Lost Cause."—Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"A sophisticated and adventurous new perspective on postwar southern thought."—Journal of Southern History

"An outstanding work that should appeal to anyone whose interest in the Civil War goes beyond the wartime battlefield and into the postwar lives of the Southern participants."—Civil War Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195054200
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1988
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Lexile: 1450L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Louisiana State University
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Part 1 Coming to Terms with Defeat, 1865 to 1885
Chapter 1 After Appomattox: The Trauma of Defeat 11
Chapter 2 After Appomattox: The Scars of Defeat 22
Chapter 3 Ceremonial Bereavement: Memorial Activities 36
Chapter 4 Ghost Dance: The Failed Revitalization Movement of the Virginians 47
Chapter 5 Toward a Reunited Nation: Signs of Reconciliation 63
Part 2 Celebrating the Confederacy, 1883 to 1907
Chapter 6 Toward a New South: Social Tensions 79
Chapter 7 The Confederate Tradition in Transition: Developments in the Eighties 88
Chapter 8 The Confederate Celebration: Its Organizational Structure 104
Chapter 9 The Confederate Celebration: Its Interpretation of the War 115
Chapter 10 The Confederate Celebration: Its Ritual Activities 127
Chapter 11 The South Vindicated: The Spanish-American War and Its Aftermath 145
Part 3 The Waning Power of the Confederate Tradition, 1898 to 1913
Chapter 12 Changes in the Celebration: The Declining Importance of the Confederate Tradition 163
Chapter 13 Academic Missionaries: The Challenge of the Professionals 180
Conclusion 193
Frequently Used Abbreviations 199
Notes 201
Appendix 1 Confederate Monuments Erected in the South, 1865-1912 273
Appendix 2 Occupational Structure of Selected Groups of Veterans 274
Appendix 3 Occupational Structure of Selected Groups of Sons of Confederate Veterans 275
Selected Bibliography 276
Index 299
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