And so we’ve come to the end of the road, a consideration today of the final chapter of Kathy Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, & Anxious Patriarchs (the full set of posts is available here). We’ve enjoyed working through the book over the past several weeks, and look forward to a healthy conversation about the final chapter.
A recent news story has me thinking about the weird enduring appeal of the Lost Cause. It seems to me that this news story about a contemporary religious organization might lead us into an interesting case study. Why, at this late date, do so many Americans still want to see the antebellum South as a tragically vanished world of nobility and grace?
Most early Americanists are familiar with David Barton, a conservative activist who argues that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. He’s been mentioned here several times as the most visible proponent of a view that’s common among members of the “Religious Right.” What’s less widely understood is how often his Christian-founding ideology overlaps with a claim advanced by a few other evangelical conservatives: that the Confederacy—and antebellum southern culture, if not slavery itself—are also part of “America’s Godly heritage.” In these circles, in other words, the Founding is sometimes wrapped up with the Old South.