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Table of Contents

Slavery & Race
The South
Visual Representations
Memorials & Appropriations

Slavery & Race
Sarah Henderson
Joe Levell
Dan Haller
Nick Schradle

The South
Dean DeChiaro
Steve Schaffer
Rick Ramirez

Visual Representations
Alana Lemon
Jon Ingram
Peter Fúster
Aaron Stanton

Memorials & Appropriation
Charles Bennett
Molly Storer
Emma Thorne-Christy

Other Online Exhibits



The South


The exploration texts of Jefferson Davis, Edward A. Pollard, and Francis Wilson demonstrate a large array of southern remembrance and sentiments of the Civil War and President Lincoln. In these texts there is an increasing tone of justification of southerner rebellion as well as swaying the war in favor of the confederacy.[more]

In The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government Davis concludes that Lincoln and the federal government were nothing more than tyrants and the confederacy was merely exercising its constitutional rights.

Similarly, former Richmond Examiner publisher Edward A. Pollard runs on the foundation President Davis laid out and attempts to objectively re-write the history of the war from a Southern perspective. While attempting to redirect public memory of the South throughout the novel, Pollard went as far as to say that Gettysburg was a victory for the South. Pollard also strategically omits any mention of President Lincoln’s assassination.

Finally, Francis Wilson provides a face and back-story to Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth. Leading with a Booth quote, “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment"[1], Wilson identifies Booth as a “Lost Cause” fanatic. Wilson believes that Booth was a spotlight-seeking assassin who thought he would become a staple in Southerners memory of the Civil War.

These three prime examples of the south’s memory of the Civil War and Lincoln, display a common theme of southern moral victory in the face of a great tyrant. This view helped many veterans and natives of the South to rationalize the war’s outcome and the post war era.

These examples can also certainly be paired with David W. Blight’s Race and Reunion, in which the author touches on the tradition of the Lost Cause and how reconciliation could stem from the Southern ideology by separating slavery from the cause of the Civil War. Blight recalls a speech given by Robert E. Lee’s grandson delivered in 1911, where he suggested, “If the South had been heeded, slavery would have been eliminated years before it was. It was the votes of the southern states which finally freed the slaves.” [2] By twisting the history and using this strange logic, Lost Cause believers could not be absolved from the responsibility of slavery but also made them the true abolitionists. As Blight put it, “protected by such mists of sentiment, the past could be anything people wished.” [3] Finally, the notion created by Lost Cause members stressed that even when Americans lose, they win. This indomitable spirit, that Margaret Mitchell infused into her character Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1936), and such is the basis of the enduring legend of Robert E. Lee—through noble character, he won by losing. [4]


         [1] Wilson, Francis. John Wilkes Booth: Fact and Fiction of Lincoln's Assassination, 1st ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929. pg. xv.

         [2] Blight, David W. Race and Reunion, The Civil War in American Memory. Harvard University Press, 2001. pg. 283.

         [3] Ibid., pp. 283.

         [4] Ibid., pp. 284.


John Wilkes
                                                  BoothWilson, Francis. John Wilkes Booth: Fact and Fiction of Lincoln's Assassination
1st ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929

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Dean DeChiaro

It does not take long to gather the gist of Francis Wilson’s John Wilkes Booth: Fact and Fiction of Lincoln's Assassination. The author dedicates the volume to Booth’s mother, Mary, whom he writes suffered from “unfathomable anguish” following the night of Lincoln’s death, which brought “a pall of inky blackness, and [spread] sorrow everywhere” (Wilson, vii). Wilson provides a predictably critical overview of Booth’s life, tracing his successful career as a well-respected actor, his downward spiral into Lost Cause fanaticism, the assassination, and finally his miserable death in a tobacco barn outside Port Royal, VA. Wilson credits Booth’s ambition to kill Lincoln to a “morbid thirst for notoriety” and decries the soldier who shot him for sparing Booth “the disgrace of dying like a criminal on the gallows” (Wilson, 136, 180). Other accounts of Lincoln’s assassinations written during the post-war period by Wilson’s Northern contemporaries, unsurprisingly, usually take the same opinion of Booth.

Interestingly, despite the fact that Wilson’s book was published in Boston, it presents an opinion of Booth that would have been found in Southern produced books on the assassination. In line with Lost Cause ideology, Southern sentiment towards Booth was surprisingly low. Had Lincoln lived to serve through the Reconstruction era, they believed, the South would have been treated with far more lenience. Booth’s fanatic blunder destroyed any possibility of that happening. Wilson’s Booth, therefore, endures the same hatred from both the North and the South, albeit for different reasons.

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                                                Lost Cause

Pollard, Edward A. The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates New York: E.B. Treat & Co., 1866.

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Steve Schaffer

Edward A. Pollard’s book looks at the war between the states from a decidedly Southern point of view. He condemns previous works about the war and states, “the facts of the War of the Confederates in America have been at the mercy of many temporary agents; they have been either confounded with sensational rumours or discoloured by violent prejudice: in this condition they are not only not History, but false schools of public opinion" (Pollard, 1). The entire war is covered from Fort Sumter to Appomattox. Published just after the war, it gives us a look into what Southern contemporaries thought of the war and the Presidents of each side. Pollard promises in the foreword that his latest rehashing of the momentous events of 1861-65 would be free of political slander and would present fact rather than opinion. Despite this claim, Pollard falters with his vow and loses much objectivity, for example, by claiming Gettysburg was a victory for the south. Pollard’s tone of readdressing the remembrance of fallen Southern soldiers is very similar to that described in Drew Gaulpin Faust’s study The Republic of Suffering, when she quotes President McKinley’s 1898 speech in Atlanta that “these heroic dead” had in the preceding year risked their lives in the great war; “the brave Confederates should be officially honored alongside their Union counterparts.” [1] All of this is of course Reconciliation discourse by putting the Civil war behind the United States and creating a sense of nationalism among sections that, up to 1865, had been bitter enemies. This book in itself is also a prime example of the Lost Cause discourse.

Throughout the book, Pollard refuses to acknowledge the US as a national entity he instead justifies Southern secession based on the idea that some inhabitants of the pre-United States British colonies considered each state a sovereign nation. Remarkably, Pollard makes little mention of slavery and completely avoids any mention of Lincoln’s assassination.


[1] Faust, Drew Gilpin. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Knopf,  2008. pg. 269.

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                                              Rise anf Fall of the
                                              Confederate GovernmentDavis, Jefferson. The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1881

Rick Ramirez
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Following the Civil War, the President of the former Confederacy Jefferson Davis spent a few years researching and writing for this work. The objective of Davis is to “show that the Southern States had rightfully the power to withdraw from a Union into which they had, as sovereign communities, voluntarily entered" (Davis, iv). In order to substantiate this argument, Davis writes a two-volume work with historical information regarding the foundation of the constitution, the establishment of the Confederacy, and various legal and constitutional precedents. Davis uniquely demonstrates a strong understanding of the Constitution providing an extremely insightful constitutional analysis. As a result, he advances the Southern belief that the “war waged by the Federal Government against the seceding States was in disregard of the limitations of the Constitution and destructive of the principles of the Declaration of Independence” (Davis, iv). Ultimately, through the analysis of Davis, the work argues the actions of the Federal Government and Lincoln were unconstitutional and tyrannical.

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About this Project / Acknowledgements

Occidental College's "Lincoln Legacies" Research Seminar was developed by
Dr. Jeremiah B.C. Axelrod, Adjunct Assistant Professor of History.

The library project is developed in collaboration with the Special Collections Department:
Dale Ann Stieber, Special Collections Librarian with student staff
Alana Lemon and Brittany Todd.

Main graphic images:


Page last edited on 03/12/2013.
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