While watching a seventy-minute interview with Professor Adam Domby about his book, The False Cause, I was surprised at the number of errors, biased interpretations and even endorsement of “extralegal” conduct by anti-statue mobs. The False Cause focuses on Civil War and Reconstruction memory, particularly involving Confederate memorials.
First, and foremost, Domby erroneously proclaims that the signature Confederate statues erected in Southern courthouse squares between 1900 and 1920 were chiefly installed to celebrate white supremacy.
In truth, they were erected because the old soldiers were fading away. The typical surviving Confederate veteran was aged 60 in 1900 and 80 in 1920. Moreover, memorials for both Federal and Confederate soldiers surged during the war’s semicentennial from 1911 to 1915. Additionally, prior to 1900 the postbellum South was too poor to fund many memorials. Even in 1900 the region’s per capita income was only half the national average. Finally, after the sons of Confederate veterans eagerly joined the military to help win the 1898 Spanish-American War, Union veterans realized that their former rivals were also Americans who deserved their own memorials.
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