Publication Date

February 2020




UVA Press


A historian on a mission, Adam H. Domby seeks to expose how “white supremacy, fraud, and fabricated memories have fundamentally shaped how Americans, especially white southerners, recalled the past.” He explains how the Lost Cause, or The False Cause, to use the book’s wonderful title, made states’ rights not slavery the cause of the war, ignored the significant dissent in the Confederacy, exaggerated the “military prowess of Confederate soldiers,” made slavery seem benign, and ignored the “role of racism in American history.” At the beginning of the twentieth century, he concludes, “a Lost Cause narrative celebrating white supremacy became a crucial rhetorical tool…to justify segregation, disfranchisement, and racial discrimination.” (3) Domby fiercely and fearlessly develops his argument, using North Carolina as his example. He does so by looking at three interrelated topics: monuments and the memory of the war, Confederate soldiers’ pensions, and pensions for African Americans.