Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

John Neff

Relational Format



This thesis analyzes the origins, creation and implementation of Lost Cause history textbooks in the South in the decades following the Civil War and Reconstruction. Directed by secondary source material relating to the topic, primary source materials—magazines, newspapers, board minutes, etc.— were explored to find evidence for the motives of rewriting a history of the Civil War more favorable to the former Confederate states. These motives included the positive reflection of former Confederates by future generations of white Southerners and the advancement of white supremacy in the Jim Crow era. Several textbooks from both northern and southern authors, published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were compared differentiate the Lost Cause narrative of the war from that of the victorious North. The Lost Cause narrative in these history textbooks promoted the following: the constitutionality of southern secession, the benevolence of the institution of slavery, the belligerency of Abraham Lincoln, and the heroism of Confederate soldiers and officers during the war. Primary source material was also discovered that showed how Confederate organizations like the United Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans worked with state governments to expel textbooks deemed unfriendly to the South in favor of history books which promoted the Lost Cause. As a result of this educational movement, students throughout the South, both black and white, were taught the inferiority of the African race, the injustices done against the Confederacy by the North, and that the Southerners were right in all their actions for several decades to come.

Included in

History Commons



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