At the end of the war, the defeated Southern states formed a rational reason why they rebelled against the union. The reason couldn’t emphasize the role of slavery as a cause. Besides, numerous white Southerners amid Reconstruction trusted that the Union had oppressed their states. As a result, southerners formed memorials driven by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and numerous Southern veterans' gatherings gave them support. This essay is a comparison of Charles Wilson “Crusading Christian Confederates-Religious Myth of the Lost Cause” and “White Women and the Politics of Historical Memory in the New South 1880-1920” by W. Fitzhugh Brundage on the themes, thesis, evidence and sources used in the articles.
The thesis of the two articles is somewhat similar. The thesis indicated the need for reformation in the Southern society, supremacy in the southern society, and the central role of women in different spheres of life. Thomas Page appealed to the white southerners to protect themselves from their history. This coincided with the blooming of Confederate tradition and acknowledgment of the past. After his death, elite white women compiled a past heroic record by using literary and non-literary forms to evoke the past. According to Wilson, the civil war was associated with the myth of the lost cause. The existence of Confederates put their religious and moral values in jeopardy (37). As a result, the southern preachers established symbols of virtue to embody the threatened values and the symbols referred to the women.
Both articles focused majorly on the civil war and reconstruction. For instance, in “Religious Myth of the Lost Cause, many people saw different meanings in it. The philosophers interpreted it as one that would defend the rights of the states. In the 1860s to 880s, the South was characterized by confusion, poverty, and disorganization. During this era, the South witnessed numerous developments that contradicted the Myth of the Lost Cause. As the South was constructing itself, it tried to reconcile with the North. The south and the north were brought together by First World War and the Spanish War. Similarly, in "White Women and the Politics of Historical Memory in the New South, 1880-1920," the author focus on the impact of world war on the American women. The aftermath of world war was a period of reconstruction. Thus, the American women were concerned about the social and political hierarchies. Charles Wilson argues that there was a little difference between their cultural and religious values and this promoted reconstruction of the south. The ministers created a connection by coming up with Lost Cause conventional forms that centred on the celebration of their theological and mythological beliefs.
Further, the other subject discussed in the essay is the attempts of the white women to assert power in different areas such as leadership. In Fitzhugh Brundage's article, the white women try to create a usable past. Women were seen as the agents of civilization and they dictated how the war would be remembered. According to Charles Wilson, many white southern writers and political leaders worked in collaboration to construct a good history of the South and Confederacy. During the civil war, Southern women demonstrated the courage, and this made the historical heroes and saints.
The existence of civil war is evident between 1865 and 1880 when Lost Cause myth emerged. The military leaders of the South argued over defeat and criticized the disloyal southerners. The southern ministers were not involved, but instead, they fought for virtue and liberty by maintaining Confederacy (37). Also, the federal troops withdrew from World War 1 and Spanish-American War in 1877, and this marked the union of the north and the south. The heroic act of women was clearly cited by clergymen. Their roles included making clothes for men in war, nursing injured soldiers and acting as supervisors (46). It was evident that women symbolized home and family. According to J.L. Underwood, the warm hearts of Confederacy was inspired by a home and a godly woman inspires a happy home. A woman defined the virtue of purity, and this was well defined by the United States senator, Rebecca, who hated the Yankee for outraging southern women.
In Brundage’s article, the theme of civil war became evident two decades later when the southerners lost interest in their past (117). They were incoherent and contradictory to the history of their region, and there were few organizations concerned with it. According to W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the role of women was evident through the existence of organizations like
The United Daughter's Confederacy. It allowed women to decide on how to remember the war. They promoted unity through by construction of Jefferson Davis monument (121).
The presence of several myths in the region pointed out the need of mythology. Through psychoanalysts, anthropologists, folklorists and literary critics, Wilson concluded that a myth unifies the contradictory. Psychoanalysts such as Henry Murray and Richard Slotkin view myth as a collective dream or collective participation. A poem written by, Pegram Dargan was used to capture the sentiment of fighting in a conscience battle. Lost Cause Myth utilized Robert Bellah’s article, a sociologist, to present his new concept of the existing dual civil religion and a southern American version. On the other hand, W. Fitzhugh Brundage utilized various resources when writing the article. He used dissertations such as Lloyd A, Hunter, “The Sacred South: Post-war Confederates and Sacralisation of Southern Culture and Charles Wilson’s article, “Baptized in Blood: The Religion of Lost Cause” to emphasize on a coherent historical memory of the white. Other articles he used were Thomas Nelson Page’s and Fred A. Bailey’s to show the importance of UDC activities in southern racial politics.
In summary, the two articles share themes such as the reconstruction of the south, the role of white supremacy in the southern history, and the central role of women in different spheres of life. Both articles deploy women into a political landscape. However, neither focuses on the key role played by white supremacy in the history of the south. Apparently, the themes talked about have not faded away an entire century and a half after the end of the war, particularly in popular cultures. There are a few history specialists who persist in displaying these myths. These myths are still present in some hate groups and neo-Confederate associations.
Dailey, Jane, Bryant Simon, and Glenda Gilmore,. 2001. Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics From Civil War To Civil Rights. H-South: Princeton University Press.
Wilson, Charles Reagan. 2009. Baptized In Blood. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press.
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