Virginia Dare, poster child for Lost Cause

“In the hands of its literary interpreters, the Roanoke colony… became the literary property of post-Confederate nostalgia, the ‘lost colony’ linked symbolically to the ‘lost cause.’

“In an 1866 novel called ‘Roanoke; or, “Where Is Utopia?” ‘ Calvin H. Wiley, who had been superintendent of public schools in Confederate North Carolina, set the colony’s descendants in a place where ‘the wild and restless demon of Progress has not yet breathed … its scorching breath on the green foliage of nature,—filial reverence, parental tenderness, conjugal fidelity, neighbourly kindness, and patriotic integrity.’

“In 1875, an anonymous ‘M. M.’ published a story in Our Living and Our Dead, a North Carolina magazine dedicated to Confederate nostalgia and anti-Northern fomentation, in which Indian magic had turned Virginia Dare into an enchanted white doe who haunted the coastal forests for a century and witnessed the Indians’ ‘extinction, and the wide occupation of their forfeited patrimony, by that superior race, the Anglo-Saxon, with their bondsmen, the sable African, the red man’s inferior.’ M. M.’s Virginia Dare also prophesied the Civil War as a national disaster: ‘divided, brave brothers fall beneath the yoke of despotism.’ ”

— From “The Earliest American Heroine” by Duke law professor Jedediah Purdy in the New Yorker (Oct. 10)


Redeemers to Northern capitalists: Come on down!

“The Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction, sealed the alliance between Northern and Southern conservatives and ratified the shifting emphasis of Northern policy from the political and missionary to the economic and exploitative…..

“Northern capital could not have moved so swiftly through the South had it not been for the collaboration of Southern business elites. The men who ‘redeemed’ state governments from carpetbag rule were eager to play the role of junior partner in the lumbering, railroad, textile and other industries….

“Their rhetorical devotion to the ‘Lost Cause’ and the supposed glories of the old order were the syrup that made the medicine of modernization go down. As early as the summer of 1877, when railroad strikes threatened to rip the Northern class structure apart, Southern publicists saw their opportunity. The Raleigh Observer addressed the ‘panic-stricken, mob-ridden States of the North,’ promising that ‘Money invested here is as safe from the rude hand of mob violence as it is in the best U.S. bond.’ ”

— From “Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920” by Jackson Lears (2009)


Was Lost Cause out of place on Veterans Day?

“On Veterans Day an ad featuring this 1896 artwork took up two-thirds of a page in the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News.

“Above the image were the words ‘Remembering all the gallant men who wore the Gray on Veteran’s Day — Deo Vindice,’ and below it was a quote from Major R.E. Wilson, CSA: ‘If I ever disown, repudiate, or apologize for the Cause for which Lee fought and Jackson died, let the lightning’s of Heaven rend me, and the scorn of all good men and true women be my portion. Sun, Moon, Stars, all fall on me when I cease to love the Confederacy. ‘Tis the cause, not the fate of the Cause, that is glorious!’

“This ad would more appropriately run on Confederate Memorial Day. If someone truly believes the Confederate States of America was a sovereign nation, then why  remember its heroes on a day set aside to remember veterans of the United States military?

“Stuff like this really diminishes my interest in the Civil War. Too many people still fighting it, too many thinking the South will rise again and a Lost Cause that simply won’t get lost.”

— Excerpted from Andrew Duppstadt’s blog, “Civil War Navy, the History Profession and other Historical Musings” (Nov. 13)


Sunday link dump offers trio of twofers

— At last, Revenge is ours (or not). Including Blackbeard’s artisanal arsenal.

— eBay eye-catchers:  a medal of Lost Cause honor and a poster for Louis Armstrong at Carmichael Auditorium.

— What exactly is a Confederate monument? And what should Reidsville do with the one that lost its kepied head to a reckless driver?

Link dump survives another week on ‘Idol’

— “Like no-one else’s, Mr. Taylor’s music distills a primal American yearning that can never be completely satisfied….”

Descendant adds color to “Arrangement in Black and White.”

— “He will not be hanged until the mail train comes through tomorrow.”

Lost Cause was lost on W. J. Cash.

— “We left Wilmington… to witness and, if allowed, to participate in the bombardment of Fort Sumter”….  Road trip!

Support the Lost Cause, marry a handicapped vet

“Nearly a quarter of the men of military age in the South were killed, and perhaps another quarter returned home wounded. To make up to the men for what they had lost, Southern girls were urged to do their part by marrying handicapped veterans.

” ‘Girls have married men they would never have given a thought of had it not been thought a sacred duty,’ wrote a North Carolina woman whose daughter had just taken the plunge. ‘You would never believe how our public speakers… excite the crowd to this thing.’ ”

— From “America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines” by Gail Collins (2003)

A prayer for judgment reversed

“[Rev. J. William Jones, a Virginia Baptist] was the most influential and well-known clergyman in the cult of the Lost Cause.

“When the Charlotte, North Carolina, school board adopted a book by a Northern author, Jones gave speeches and organized protests by veterans’ groups. He called the book ‘utterly untruthful,’ written with ‘all of the prejudices and stupendous ignorance of a conceited Yankee’….

“While Jones was a chaplain at the University of North Carolina [around 1900], he gave the following prayer:

” ‘Lord… We acknowledge Thou had a divine plan when Thou made the rattlesnake, as well as the song bird, and this was without help from Charles Darwin. But we believe Thou will admit the grave mistake in giving the decision to the wrong side in 1865.’ ”

— “From “Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920” by Charles Reagan Wilson (1983)