Search the Site

Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’

Why Does the South Still Commemorate the Civil War, But Not the North? Peter Coclanis Answers Your Questions

Last week we took stock of the Civil War commemoration situation: namely that the South seems to be taking more pride than the North in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war’s start. We wondered why that was, particularly when it was the South that was left so economically devastated by the war. For some answers, we turned to Peter Coclanis, a professor of economic and business history at the University of North Carolina, whose research focuses on the American South in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Coclanis offered some intriguing thoughts on the economic legacy of the Civil War in the South, and why many southerners are still so keen to remember it. We also solicited your questions for him. Now, Coclanis gives you his answers.

Why Does the South Still Commemorate the Civil War, But Not the North? Bring Your Questions for Historian Peter Coclanis

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Celebrations, commemorations, remembrances of all kinds are planned over the next four years. Twenty-two states are getting in on the action. But the majority of events, and the people displaying the most zeal for the occasion, are in the South.

In December, a mostly white crowd turned out in their antebellum best for the Secession Ball in Charleston, S.C. In February, the Sons of Confederate Veterans descended on the state capitol in Montgomery, Ala., to cheer the reenactment of Jefferson Davis being sworn in as president of the Confederacy. My home state of Virginia, where a third of all Civil War battles were fought, is spending millions in hopes of cashing in on the four-year event. In the South, the Civil War is still big business, which got me thinking: why are the ones who lost the war trying the hardest to remember it? The Civil War devastated the South, and plunged much of the region into a century of poverty and economic stagnation, the effects of which are still apparent in many areas. The South’s relationship with the “Lost Cause” is obviously complicated, but where else in history do we see the losers commemorating a war while the winners, by comparison, largely ignore its anniversary?