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Baptized in Blood

The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920

Charles Reagan Wilson With a new preface

Publication Year: 2009

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."

Published by: University of Georgia Press

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Preface to the 2009 Edition: The Lost Cause and the Civil Religion in Recent Historiography

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pp. ix-xx

Baptized in Blood appeared in 1980, at a time of transition in the historiography of the American South. The 1960s and 1970s had produced an outpouring of excellent works on slavery and other aspects of African American history, but historians had not fully incorporated blacks as central players in southern history in general. Similarly, social class ...

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pp. xxi

My greatest intellectual debt is to William H. Goetzmann. His personal encouragement and the example of his historical writing have inspired my own efforts; I first wrote on the topic of this study in his seminar on American intellectual and cultural history. Robert M. Crunden offered valuable assistance, helping to exorcise grammatical demons, as well as ...

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Introduction: Origin and Overview

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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 South' emers. Embodying the dream of Southerners for a separate political identity, the Confederacy was defeated by Father Abraham and an apparently ...

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One. Sacred Southern Ceremonies: Ritual of the Lost Cause

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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 ...

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Two. Crusading Christian Confederates: Religious Myth of the Lost Cause

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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 ...

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Three. Abiding Children of Pride: Theology of the Lost Cause

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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 ...

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Four. A Southern Jeremiad: Lost Cause Critique of the New South

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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 ...

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Five. Morality and Mysticism: Race and the Lost Cause

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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 ...

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Six. J. William Jones: Evangelist of the Lost Cause

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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 ...

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Seven. Schooled in Tradition: A Lost Cause Education

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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 ...

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Eight. A Harvest of Heroes: Reconciliation and Vindication

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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 ...


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pp. 183-225


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pp. 227-249


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pp. 251-256

E-ISBN-13: 9780820340722
E-ISBN-10: 0820340723
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820334257
Print-ISBN-10: 0820334251

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Civilization.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Religious aspects.
  • Christianity -- Southern States.
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