Jump to content

John Pelham and the “Myth of the Lost Cause” By Thomas HubertJuly 7, 2021


Recommended Posts


  John Pelham and the “Myth of the Lost Cause”

 By Thomas HubertJuly 7, 2021

Some twenty years ago I had planned to write a full-length study of John Pelham—known in the South as the Gallant John Pelham—and the making of myth. The business of earning a living and other distractions, however, intervened to keep that project from being completed. I finally abandoned it as a lost cause of my own. Recently, however, I came across a notice of a book on the Alabama artillerist entitled The Perfect Lion, by Jerry H. Maxwell (University of Alabama Press, 2011). I gather that it is the very sort of book I had aimed to write.

 Which brings us to my theme today: John Pelham and the “myth” of the Lost Cause. Now, to clarify and to anticipate the rest of this essay, I have to say that there are two versions of the Lost Cause. One of these originated in the original states of the Southern Confederacy. The other version originated north of the old surveyor’s line a bit later. That’s the Yankee version.

 Put briefly, the Southern version holds that while the South was defeated in the War Between the States, the cause for which it fought was noble and some would even say sacred. The main issue at stake was regional self-determination, mostly political and economic. Some refer to this as states’ rights, the self-governance of the states in their relation to the central government. Slavery was an institution of long-standing for the presence of which both North and South had responsibility. It was New England ships after all that brought slaves to American shores. Finally, only a minority of Southerners owned slaves.

 The Northern version is that the so-called Lost Cause is a myth in the sense that it is based not on historical fact but rather on wishful, sentimental, and self-justifying thinking developed after the fact of a bitter defeat. The real issue of the War was slavery, which the North sought to expunge from the face of the earth. The cause of states’ rights was conjured up as a smoke screen to distract from the real motivation, the preservation of the “peculiar institution.”      :snip: 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • 1632656663
  • Create New...