Chapter

“My Children on the Field”:Wade Hampton, Biography, and the Roots of the Lost Cause

Rod Andrew Jr.

in The Great Task Remaining Before Us

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232024
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240494 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823232024.003.0009

Series: Reconstructing America

“My Children on the             Field”:Wade Hampton, Biography, and the Roots of the Lost Cause

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This chapter cannot hope to be a complete biography of Wade Hampton's life, nor even of his postwar political career. It aims to show, however, that the biographical perspective is essential to a complete understanding of the nature and roots of Lost Cause mythology in the postwar South. It also argues that the roots of the Lost Cause can be found in the experiences of the war years. The Lost Cause legend was not simply a postbellum reaction to racial and social change, a deliberately dishonest means to reestablish white supremacy. For Wade Hampton, one of the major spokesmen of Lost Cause mythology in the late-19th century, the Lost Cause represented a persistent, deeply felt need to find validation and meaning in all that he had suffered and in all that his beloved had given for the Confederate cause. The experience of war and tragedy was so deeply engrained in Hampton's mind that it influenced his understanding of postwar political and social issues. It was not always the other way around. Historians remember Hampton as a soldier and politician, but rarely as a distraught father holding his dying son. Unless we remember that part of his life as well, we may never truly understand his postwar political assumptions or his motivations in espousing the Lost Cause.

Keywords: Wade Hampton; Civil War; Lost Cause; white supremacy; South

Chapter.  7138 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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