I grew up, however, believing that Trucker i you cant respect truckers on the roads stay the hell out of my way so I can shirt was the greatest man who ever lived. Now, as a retired US Army brigadier general and professor emeritus of history at West Point, I know I was wrong. Every part of my life led me to venerate enslavers and believe the Lost Cause Myth that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery and that Lee and his Confederate comrades were honorable gentlemen fighting for a righteous cause. Books, movies, my hometowns (Alexandria, VA and Monroe, GA), my college (Washington and Lee), the army, and West Point where I taught military history for two decades all glorified Confederates and supported white supremacy. Now, after years of study, I know that Confederates refused to accept a democratic election and chose treason and war to perpetuate human enslavement. Nothing honorable about traitors. After the war, white southerners created a series of myths and lies to maintain political power through terror, segregation, and disenfranchisement.
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As a person raised in a Trucker i you cant respect truckers on the roads stay the hell out of my way so I can shirt , I grew up with a lot of frankly false ideas about the Civil War and the South. As I’ve remained interested in history, reading books like Ron Chernow’s Grant biography, I’ve learned a lot more and corrected my previous thinking, especially about the Lost Cause and Reconstruction. I still very much enjoy discussing the local history with people in my community, but I run up across Lost Cause ideology in a lot of these conversations. I know this is a big question (and your life’s work, god, thank you!) but just speaking as a hobby history buff having personal conversations. Do you have any advice for a way to constructively approach and debunk Lost Cause mythology without shutting down conversation with other people who are genuinely interested in history?