Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader

By Gordon B. McKinney | Go to book overview

26 MONUMENTS AND THE MAN

Historian David W. Blight has examined the way that Americans have remembered and commemorated the Civil War. He has maintained that three competing memorial traditions emerged in America after the war. These were the African American tradition, the Northern celebration of victory, and the Lost Cause movement in the South. In his detailed study of literature, historical writing, and public celebrations, Blight has shown how the Southerners who commemorated the Lost Cause came to dominate discussions of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the South. He has demonstrated how the effort to reconcile the North and the South virtually eliminated the black presence in the historical narratives of the time. Men like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis became virtual cult figures, and organizations like the Southern Historical Society and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) sought to provide a "correct" view of the war. One manifestation of the growing strength of the Lost Cause idea was the widespread dedication of monuments to selected heroes of the Confederacy.1

Zeb's death came during a period in which the Confederate heroes were being honored all over the South. Since there were no great military leaders from North Carolina for him to compete with, Zeb became the symbolic leader of the Lost Cause in his home state. Within two weeks of his death, there were plans to provide a suitable memorial to the fallen hero. Ironically, the first attempt to do so was fiercely resisted by his family. Zeb was laid to rest in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville beside Hattie and their infant son Espy. Florence felt that no adequate memorial could be placed in that location. She had Zeb's body removed from the site to a place where a more appropriate monument could be constructed and where she could be buried next to Zeb. Zeb's son Charles was angered by this action, and he took her to court. Charles also arranged for Zeb's body to be disinterred and moved back to its original location. Florence eventually decided not to contest the case further; in the future, North Carolinians would have to remember Zeb at locations other than his burial site.2

While the unpleasant rivalry within the family was taking place, Zeb's

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Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1: What Manner of Man? 1
  • 2: A Mountain Boyhood 5
  • 3: Scholar and Suitor 16
  • 4: Lawyer and Apprentice Politician 31
  • 5: Congressman 49
  • 6: Secession Crisis 65
  • 7: Colonel of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment 78
  • 8: Campaign for Governor 97
  • 9: Building a Strong North Carolina 110
  • 10: Relations with the Confederate Government 130
  • 11: Growing Challenges 152
  • 12: Protest 168
  • 13: Challenges to the Compromise 185
  • 14: Campaign for Reelection 200
  • 15: Returned to Office 217
  • 16: Defeat with Honor 231
  • 17: Prisoner 248
  • 18: The Politics of Reconstruction 264
  • 19: Frustrated Politician 283
  • 20: The Battle of Giants 302
  • 21: Governor Again 324
  • 22: United States Senator 345
  • 23: Party Leader 366
  • 24: Farmers' Alliance and Reelection 384
  • 25: Decline 397
  • 26: Monuments and the Man 406
  • Notes 417
  • Index 467
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