The best books on the politics of the Confederacy: the inner world of the 'Lost Cause'

William C. Davis Author Of An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government
By William C. Davis

The Books I Picked & Why

The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics

By George C. Rable

The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics

Why this book?

This is the first, and still really the only, thorough study of the political life of the seceded states when they formed their new Confederacy. It is an eye-opener as to what those founders envisioned for their new republic, revealing them as more than just reactionary rebels. While never downplaying the central role of slavery and its concomitant issues in bringing about secession, Rable also shows the flashes of political idealism in the minds of some who thought they would be perfecting what was begun in 1776.


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A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States

By Alexander H. Stephens

A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States

Why this book?

Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander "Little Alec" Stephens was the real "Little Giant" of mid-century politics. His 2-volume apologia for secession is not an easy read, but it is a fountainhead for the thinking that would inform "Lost Cause" mythology for more than a century. The very title gave future "Lost Cause" adherents their mantra of it being a "war between the states," and not a civil war. Stephens is argumentative, at times fustian and slow going, but what he has to say is essential to getting into the mind of the men who made secession happen, and how they sought to justify it after 1865.


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A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy

By William C. Davis

A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy

Why this book?

At the risk of being immodest in selecting one of my own books, this is the only scholarly investigation into the creation of the Confederacy and its infant days in Montgomery, Alabama, prior to the move to Richmond, VA. The story is peopled with dynamic characters, high ideals, low motives, and a host of surprises from what the Confederate founding fathers created and how they went about it. Secession was bound to be tried at some time in our history, and the way these men went about it, and how they sought to remedy what they saw as the shortcomings in our original Constitution, are highly revealing of how Americans of all times can react in times of crisis.


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Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

By William L. Barney

Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

Why this book?

This new 2020 book is a fresh synthesis of the scholarly work that has been done on secession and the young Confederacy in the past 30 years and has much that is new to offer  Its treatment of the weeks in Montgomery is rather brief, but insightful, and overall it makes a fine introduction to the political life of the CSA.


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Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy From Birth to Death: From Original Notes, Collated in the Years 1861 to 1865

By Thomas C. DeLeon

Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy From Birth to Death: From Original Notes, Collated in the Years 1861 to 1865

Why this book?

It is one of the best first-person accounts we have of the adolescent days of the Confederacy in Montgomery, AL. De Leon is a fine writer who provides great pen portraits of the people involved, endless anecdotal detail on political and social life among the founders and their Montgomery hosts, and some penetrating insights into the jealousies and rivalries that helped to cripple their efforts from the outset.


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