Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome back Patrick Young, author of The Reconstruction Era blog.
The Lost Cause by Edward Pollard is a seminal work in the development of a Southern White historical tradition recalling, celebrating, and interpreting the fallen Confederacy to those who were part of the four-year experiment and to their children and grandchildren. Published just a year after the end of the war, it was one of the first book-length works claiming to encompass the war’s full scope within its covers. Although I have seen the “Lost Cause” referred to in newspaper articles published before Pollard’s book came out, his The Lost Cause popularized the term and gave it widespread usage.
Let me begin by noting that the book The Lost Cause has some significant differences from the Lost Cause paradigm seen in later works. Pollard was writing the book in 1865 and 1866. He had not lived through Reconstruction, and Jeff Davis was not yet an unassailable martyr. Slavery was not considered irretrievably lost, and some Southerners thought that it could be restored. Although he popularized the term, Pollard died before anyone ever identified a “Lost Cause” school of history. Continue reading