Known as the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, it was the name given to the attempt by aristocratic Southerners to reconcile the loss of the civil war.
A sort of mourning for the South, the Lost Cause portrayed the Confederacy’s cause as noble, and the south as unfairly beaten through sheer force. The movement condemned Reconstruction, called the civil war “the War of Northern Aggression” and spoke of a time when the south would rise again.
Truly an artifact of, and monument to the Lost Cause, is the Old Courthouse in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Completed in 1860 and built by slaves, it has been named “one of the 20 most Outstanding Courthouses in America” by the American Institute of Architects. Nearly destroyed by neglect, the building was reborn in 1947 as a museum dedicated to the glory of the South.
Today the museum houses a rich assortment of artifacts including “confederate flags, including one that was never surrendered, and the tie worn by Jefferson Davis at his inauguration as Confederate President.” It also houses a collection of early photographs of Vicksburg and the surrounding area and many Civil War artifacts. However it retains a strong feel of the antebellum south and items which are enough to upset some visitors from the north. One visitor remarked “I personally found it distasteful, especially when I saw the “mammy” dolls, pickininny dolls, and the book “little black.”
The Vicksburg Historical Society owns and maintains the museum and its collections. The society also maintains the McCardle Research Library which contains over 1400 volumes of local history and genealogical records.