Baptized in Blood

Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920

CHARLES REAGAN WILSON
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46nk5g
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  • Book Info
    Baptized in Blood
    Book Description:

    Southerners may have abandoned their dream of a political nation after Appomattox, but they preserved their cultural identity by blending Christian rhetoric and symbols with the rhetoric and imagery of Confederate tradition. Out of defeat emerged a civil religion that embodied the Lost Cause. As Charles Reagan Wilson writes in his new preface, "The Lost Cause version of the regional civil religion was a powerful expression, and recent scholarship affirms its continuing power in the minds of many white southerners."

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4072-2
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE TO THE 2009 EDITION The Lost Cause and the Civil Religion in Recent Historiography
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. Introduction ORIGIN AND OVERVIEW
    (pp. 1-17)

    This is a study of the afterlife of a Redeemer Nation that died. The nation was never resurrected, but it survived as a sacred presence, a holy ghost haunting the spirits and actions of post-Civil War Southerners. Embodying the dream of Southerners for a separate political identity, the Confederacy was defeated by Father Abraham and an apparently more blessed, as well as more self-righteous, Redeemer Nation. But the dream of a separate Southern identity did not die in 1865. A Southern political nation was not to be, and the people of Dixie came to accept that; but the dream of...

  6. Chapter One SACRED SOUTHERN CEREMONIES RITUAL OF THE LOST CAUSE
    (pp. 18-36)

    Richmond remembered. It had been the capital of the Southern Confederacy, and when the drive for independence failed, Richmond became the eternal city of Southern dreams. It, in turn, preserved the memory of its past and catered to the activities of the Lost Cause. Appropriately, therefore, one of the first large postwar gatherings of defeated Confederate veterans occurred in the city in October, 1875, a decade after the war’s end and one year before the nation’s centennial celebration. The Confederates met for a celebration, but not of the American nation: they celebrated ritualistically the Confederate nation that still lived in...

  7. Chapter Two CRUSADING CHRISTIAN CONFEDERATES RELIGIOUS MYTH OF THE LOST CAUSE
    (pp. 37-57)

    Like all religious rituals, that of the Lost Cause had its mythology. While related to the myths of the Old South and Reconstruction, the myth of the Lost Cause was a distinct one, having to do primarily with the Civil War itself. While most Southerners paid homage to the Lost Cause, they saw different meanings in it. Politicians and political philosophers, for example, interpreted the Lost Cause as a defense of states’ rights, and they waved the gray shirt to enable former Confederates to win election. The most profound and lasting interpretation of the myth of the Lost Cause was...

  8. Chapter Three ABIDING CHILDREN OF PRIDE THEOLOGY OF THE LOST CAUSE
    (pp. 58-78)

    During the Civil War, Southerners believed that God approved their cause, and they did not abandon that belief in the face of Confederate defeat. Defeat raised a traditional religious problem: How could the righteous man or cause be defeated when a just, omnipotent God ruled the universe? Southern ministers pondered the essential theological question of the Southern relationship to God as the war neared an end, but during the war most clergymen maintained hope of ultimate victory. To the end, they remained the Confederacy’s most important morale-builders. With defeat, Southern clergymen assumed the responsibility for explaining the South’s defeat in...

  9. Chapter Four A SOUTHERN JEREMIAD LOST CAUSE CRITIQUE OF THE NEW SOUTH
    (pp. 79-99)

    In addition to the ritualistic, mythological, and theological aspects of the Lost Cause, a prophetic dimension also existed. Certain ministers, the prophets of the Lost Cause, warned their brethren of the dangers in abandoning traditional Southern values and failing to meet the high standards of the Confederate past. The greatest danger to traditional values was seen as coming from the increase in commercial and industrial economic activity in the South. The New South movement urging industrialism and laissez-faire capitalism as the solutions to Southern problems became prominent in the 1880s, and that movement became the focus for the preachers’ criticisms....

  10. Chapter Five MORALITY AND MYSTICISM RACE AND THE LOST CAUSE
    (pp. 100-118)

    White supremacy was a key tenet of the Southern Way of Life, and Southern ministers used the Lost Cause religion to reinforce it. The implications of the Lost Cause for racial relations were disturbing. The Ku Klux Klan epitomized the use of the Confederate experience for destructive purposes. The Klan represented the mystical wing of the Lost Cause, as the most passionate organization associated with this highly ritualized civil religion. Its mysticism was attained not through a disciplined meditation, but through the cultivation of a mysterious ambience, which fused Confederate and Christian symbols and created unique rituals. The racial views...

  11. Chapter Six J. WILLIAM JONES EVANGELIST OF THE LOST CAUSE
    (pp. 119-138)

    In addition to its prophetic function, the Southern civil religion, like the American civil religion, had a priestly function. While the ministers feared that the defeated South would abandon its traditional values, many of them tried to prevent this, not by castigating their brothers with jeremiads for their failures, but by celebrating the virtues of the Southern Way of Life. By affirming the tenets of the Southern creed and evoking the memory of past sacrifices, Southerners could be made to realize their place in a distinctive culture and to understand the need for continued commitment to it. A peculiarly Southern...

  12. Chapter Seven SCHOOLED IN TRADITION A LOST CAUSE EDUCATION
    (pp. 139-160)

    Southerners realized that ultimately the Southern Way of Life could not survive if their children rejected the Confederacy. The Lost Cause movement helped Southerners to retain their identity in light of the crushing defeat and poverty that war had brought. But Southerners especially wanted their descendants to understand that defeat had not destroyed the relevance of the Southern resistance to that identity. Southern ministers played a large role in this phase, as in the other aspects of the Lost Cause. They supervised and institutionalized the teaching of a “correct” interpretation of Southern history. Clergy-men led the call for textbooks and...

  13. Chapter Eight A HARVEST OF HEROES RECONCILIATION AND VINDICATION
    (pp. 161-182)

    The Lost Cause provided the rationale for Southerners maintaining a culture separate from the rest of the nation’s. Nonetheless, Southerners eventually regained pride in being Americans, as well as citizens of Dixie. The dream of a separate political nation died among most Southerners with Confederate defeat, even though it died hard. Gradually replacing the political dream was the cultural dream, and as the latter took hold Southerners found that they could honor the American political nation if it honored the Southern civilization, including a degree of local self-government.

    Reconciliation with the North did not, of course, happen overnight.¹ While reunification...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 183-226)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 227-250)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 251-256)