Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era

Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era

Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era

Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era

Synopsis

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Lost Cause gave white southerners a new collective identity anchored in the stories, symbols, and rituals of the defeated Confederacy. Historians have used the idea of civil religion to explain how this powerful memory gave the white South a unique sense of national meaning, purpose, and destiny. The civil religious perspectives of everyone else, meanwhile, have gone unnoticed.

Arthur Remillard fills this void by investigating the civil religious discourses of a wide array of people and groups--blacks and whites, men and women, northerners and southerners, Democrats and Republicans, as well as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Focusing on the Wiregrass Gulf South region--an area covering north Florida, southwest Georgia, and southeast Alabama--Remillard argues that the Lost Cause was but one civil religious topic among many. Even within the white majority, civil religious language influenced a range of issues, such as progress, race, gender, and religious tolerance. Moreover, minority groups developed sacred values and beliefs that competed for space in the civil religious landscape.

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