Why is it that despite Union victories did the Southern states often state that they were on the right side of history and their ideology was correct?

After the the Civil War, a bloodbath between North and South on the issue of slavery, the South was in ruins and both sides were dealing with the results of the war in their own way. The path to rebuilding the nation was Reconstruction. However, the South did not take its loss in the war quietly. The Southern states often stated they were on the right side of history and their ideology was correct due to the Lost Cause, the ease of rejoining the Union, and the continued oppression of African Americans.

One success of Reconstruction was the ease of which the former Confederate States were welcomed back into the Union. Despite the ill will that the two regions had with each other previously, they were able to rejoin together easily. However, it also was a reason why southerners believed they were on the right side of history and that their ideology was correct. An example of this is how lenient the Union was to the former Confederacy with the Southern states practically not being punished at all. Due to the Union’s leniency, the black codes were allowed to be passed in the South which effectively denied the rights of African Americans and did not go against the 13th and 14th amendments. In a way, though the war was fought over slavery, the result ultimately changed little with African Americans having had their status elevated only slightly if at all and the South practically regressed to its former self.

With the end of Reconstruction came the failure in the form of the Lost Cause, the idea that the Civil War was about States’ Rights, not slavery. Due to the Lost Cause, a fabricated history of the Civil War was formed and white supremacists rallied around the idea. African Americans eventually fell into just as bad conditions as they were in as slaves due to Black Codes, white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and a lack of enforcement for legislation protecting African Americans. The Black Codes often hindered the rights of African Americans often preventing them from voting and forcing them to work on the land for no pay in a similar fashion of slavery through share cropping, the idea that African Americans would pay for the land they had by providing plantation owners with a share of their crops.

Despite the efforts made for equality among all in the South, it was not to come leaving a legacy of discrimination against African Americans. The black codes are an example of the oppression of blacks by southerners even though they were newly freed. The Black Codes were discriminatory and unjust towards African Americans and denied them their rights. Eventually the Black Codes were abolished by Congress in 1866, but it was just the beginning of a long period of discrimination against free blacks. After the Compromise of 1877, the last of the federal troops enforcing equality in the South were recalled essentially giving the state governments and white supremacists free reign. Due to this discrimination was prevalent and lasted up until the Civil Rights Movement resulting in why southerners often believed their ideology was true.

Overall, due to the combined forces of oppression among African Americans, the Lost Cause, and the ease of rejoining the Union, Southerners believed they were on the right side of history and that their beliefs were correct. However influences would eventually end these beliefs with the Civil Rights Movement able to earn equality among all races.

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