Confederate Statues A Symbol Of Old and Effective Marketing Plan
As of this writing, some 114 statues of Confederate Civil War heroes and generals have been removed following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The creation and erection of these statues formed the centerpiece of an old and remarkable successful marketing plan or ideology called the “Lost Cause.” The basic premise of “Lost Cause” holds that the Confederacy’s cause was just and heroic and encompassed the virtues of the antebellum South.
“Lost cause” advocates an attempt to shift the reason for southern succession as “state’s rights” and not “slavery.” Moreover, the North is viewed as the aggressor that destroyed the idyllic life of the South. The movie, “Gone with the Wind,” depicts the “lost cause” with its pre- and post-Civil War portrayal of southern life. Another premise of “lost cause” is the treatment of slaves. “Gone with the Wind” portrays the slaves as members of the family, while other, more realistic descriptions, such as in the film “12 Years a Slave,” show the slaves as chattel victimized by evil overseers.
The “lost cause” movement has inspired the construction of many statues and monuments in both the South and the North. Many of these monuments honor leaders of the Confederacy. The honorable Robert E. Lee riding atop of his gray steed has been replicated all over the United States. In reality, Lee was a traitor to the United States and the Civil War was a treasonous act against the nation. In addition to Lee, there are numerous statues of Stonewall Jackson and other southern heroes.
Advocates of the “lost cause” typically portray the Confederacy as being noble and chivalrous. While the winning Union had more numbers and industrial wealth, leading to their victory, it was the South that had superior and more courageous military leaders.
Most of these statues and monuments were not erected during Reconstruction or the immediate years following. The vast majority were erected during the 20th Century. Particularly intense periods of “lost cause” activity surfaced around World War I when southern soldiers began to die out. Other periods in which there was a push to preserve memories of the Old South were the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.
One statue that has been replicated throughout the South features General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This was the general for which “Forrest Gump” was named. In reality, this general presided over the massacre of 300 African Americans and later was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.
Another “lost cause” remnant is the naming of military bases after Confederate generals like Fort Bragg and Fort Hood. Surprisingly, Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood were two of the South’s more unsuccessful generals.
In reality, the “lost cause” is a fraud. It is an attempt to maintain white supremacy and Jim Crow policies. It took a while, but the North thoroughly defeated the South and eventually ended slavery. It was the northern generals who were the winners and superior military commanders.