Living Monuments of the Lost Cause

When the lies are written in stone.

In this episode we explore the myth of the Lost Cause—the idea that the South’s secession from the United States in 1861 was not about slavery but was instead about noble and just causes like “states rights,” and the idea that the South only lost the war because they were vastly outnumbered by the industrial North.

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We get to the truth by digging into primary sources like Confederate states’ articles of secession and the “Cornerstone Speech” given by Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander H. Stephens where he tells an adoring crowd that the highest value—the cornerstone—of the Confederacy and the new Confederate Constitution is white supremacy and the expansion of the godly institution of African slavery.

Then we talk with Dr. Karen L. Cox, author of No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, who’s dug deep into the primary sources to trace the origins of Confederate monuments to efforts to propagate the Lost Cause and indoctrinate white schoolchildren into becoming “living monuments” who would spread both the false history of the Civil War and white supremacy. Spoiler alert: their efforts worked.

Confederate Dead Monument at the Texas State Capitol in Austin

This topic is an important one to us, and we created this episode to share with folks who grew up being told the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, or who might be conflicted about the meaning and value of Confederate monuments, or might just be curious about their history.

And even if that doesn’t describe you, I think you’ll find Dr. Cox’s comments insightful. And maybe even hopeful.


Listen now:

The Black family that claims Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, as an ancestor by Jim Galloway, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 17, 2020
Confederacy leader’s Black, white heirs unbury past at Georgia estate by Jim Galloway, The Atlanta Journal-Constitutuon, June 23, 2023
The “Cornerstone Speech,” delivered by Alexander H. Stephens March 21, 1861, first reported by The Savannah Republican
DECLARATION OF CAUSES: February 2, 1861: A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.

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