The Lost Cause

Bill Spurlin’s Reviews > A Short History of the Confederate States of America

A Short History of the Confederate States of America by Jefferson Davis
A Short History of the Confederate States of America 
by  Jefferson Davis

Contains many of the same tedious, legalistic arguments for secession as The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, by the same author, as well as much of the same hackneyed, revisionist positions, i. e., the War was not fought over slavery but over something called States Rights. This book, however, is a shorter and better read. It has many sections which have the character of a primary source. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the First Battle of Bull Run, at which Davis was present and which he to a certain extent organized. Also remarkable is his apology for wearing women’s clothes when finally apprehended by Union forces.

The Lost Cause has no better exponent, which is why it lost. My Confederate ancestors fought and died for something, and I fear it was nothing better than the terribly discredited and convoluted ideals expressed in this book.

Don’t read this unless you are, like me, a serious amateur or professional historian.

COMMENTS (showing 1-3 of 3) (1 new)

message 1: by Fofozem

FofozemAs Davis was the president of the Confederacy I think it’s errant to describe his words as ‘revisionist.’ While his arguments might make little sense in the context of the historical backdrop of the Civil War it is still an interesting look into an attempt at legitimizing the Civil War by the leader of the Confederacy.

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Bill SpurlinAt the beginning of the Civil War the Confederate leaders were clear that the war was being fought over the institution of slavery. See e. g. the Alexander Stephens “Cornerstone” speech of March 21, 1861. See also the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, the SC declaration of secession, Dec. 24, 1860, which cites preservation of the institution of slavery and failure by the North to enforce the Fugitive Slave act as justifications for secession.

As the war progressed, and especially after the war, in the face of universal condemnation of a war to preserve slavery, especially from Europe, the original clear position was revised in favor of a convoluted states-rights theory of the origin of the war. Hence the use of the word “revisionist.”

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message 3: by Robert (new) – rated it 5 stars
RobertTo argue that the War was “to preserve slavery” is akin to argue that, in order to preserve fur-trapping, an owner called the police in hopes of assistance in the return of her stolen mink coat.

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by Bill (last edited 0 minutes ago)
Bill SpurlinI appreciate your comment, Robert, and I understand that there is some ambiguity over the reasons for the War, although I would suggest more on the part of the North than the South. The Northern leaders, in 1861, to try to gather broad support for the War, stayed far away from an anti-slavery position.

The question that has puzzled me more than any other in my study of the War and its origins has been: why did the non-slave owning, poor whites of the South largely support a war in defense of the “peculiar institution?” It was not until reading “The war between the Union and the Confederacy : and its lost opportunities”, New York : Neale Pub. Co., 1905, by Col. William C. Oates of the 15th Alabama, that I received a clear and complete exposition on this question. While I hope to review Col. Oates’ book separately, here are some brief excerpts:

“The brave men who filled the ranks of Confederate armies
volunteered to fight for home-rule, local self-government, for
separate national independence — with the institution of slavery
as an important incident of the struggle. There were many
whose motive in seceding and fighting for the Confederacy was
to perpetuate the institution of slavery as a means of wealth.
The chief advocates and agitators of secession were largely
the latter class, but a great majority of the soldiers in the ranks —
the men who handled the muskets and did the killing — were
not of that class.”

“For slavery alone, or the money value of the slaves, two thirds, and probably three-fourths, of the Confederate soldiers would not have risked their lives and fought as they did. Many intelligent people in the North do not understand, to this day, what motive impelled the men of the South to fight with such persistency as they did…Besides their other grievances, the apprehension those poor men had of the consequences of the emancipation of four million of negro slaves in their midst, and they to be given the franchise and elevated to political and social equality with the whites, was horrifying to their proud spirits, and those who never owned a slave fought for slavery to avoid such direful consequences. Southern pride was offended and the blood made to boil at the idea of enforced equality of an inferior race. It was complimentary to them that they had the intelligence to foresee that with universal emancipation would come a rivalry with them in industries, unpleasant contact, mixed schools, negro office-holders, indignities, miscegenation, and general demoralization…”

So there you have it, if you want to understand the Lost Cause: “Southern pride was offended and the blood made to boil at the idea of enforced equality of an inferior race.”


Interview with Dr. Wild in Le Monde

On the occasion of the investigation published by Le Monde on Tuesday, October 25, regarding the figures concerning cancer in France, Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization headquartered in Lyon] , explains the overall patterns of the evolution of malignant tumors in the world…

What are the overall tendencies in the global evolution of the incidence of cancer?

We do not currently have solid data on the long term evolution of the incidence of cancer for all countries. This information, obtained from nationally registered data, remains scarce in numerous developing countries. Starting from the database of the IARC, we observe changes linked to development: the level of occurrence of certain major cancers (lung, breast, colorectal) is increasing in many poor or emerging countries, while several others, more associated with poverty or infectious diseases (uterus, stomach, liver) seem, rather, to be on the decline.

Overall, an understanding of those incidences which are increasing in countries in transition has to do with changes in the risks undertaken, which are approaching those of the rich countries: tobacco consumption, overweight, sedentary, increase in the age of child bearing and breast feeding… For several cancers a divergence in global tendencies can be observed: among men, lung cancer tends to decline in wealthier countries but is stable or still increasing among women.

These tendencies reflect the “maturity” of the epidemic of tobacco use, and the fact that women have taken up cigarettes more recently than men. Globally, in lower income countries the smoking habit has arrived later and we may be able to observe in decades to come a rapid increase in cancer in certain countries, particularly among men. Other cancers are increasing as well: a sub-type of cancer of the esophagus strongly linked to obesity is increasing in several western countries.

How is the sharp increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer to be interpreted?

These increases are linked to the development of new diagnostic tools (tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, etc.) which have led to a considerable augmentation in the detection of small papillary tumors, which would not have been evident before.

In spite of a decline at the world wide level, cancer of the cervix is still increasing in certain countries of East Africa, Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet countries.

The incidence of a good number of cancer types is at the same time reasonably constant. The mortality rate of pancreatic cancer is relatively stable, for example. But because of the poor prognosis of these tumors and advances in the treatment of other major forms of cancer (breast, prostate, colorectal), this illness [pancreatic cancer] has become one of the leading causes of death in the EU countries.

Beyond the big, known causes – tobacco, alcohol – what are the major determining factors observed?

We now have considerable knowledge of certain risk factors, that can explain part of the developments under observation: First of all, the impact of chronic infections is often neglected as a risk factor, but accounts for perhaps 15% of cancer at a global level, especially for liver cancer (viral hepatitis), cervical cancer (papillomavirus) and stomach cancer (Helicobacter pilori).

However, this varies considerably country by country: in Africa more than 40% of cancers are linked to such infections, against 1% to 3% in North America or Australia, for example… Certain viral or bacterial infections decrease along with the level of development.

It is also interesting to see, in certain wealthy countries, the increase in the number of cancers in the oropharyngeal (mouth, lips, pharynx, etc.) and ano-genital areas associated with sexual transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV). This development is a supplementary argument for the introduction of the HPV vaccine, the benefits of which will extend beyond the prevention of cervical cancer.

What are the consequences of the increase in tobacco use?

Tobacco use continues to increase in numerous countries, which leads naturally to a rise in the incidence of lung and other cancers, including a pronounced increase among women as well as men, as well as other health effects (cardiovascular illness, chronic respiratory trouble, etc.)

Overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity are increasing in a dramatic manner in numerous regions of the world and these life style changes are associated with accumulated risk of several cancers, among which are breast, esophagus, colorectal, kidney…

To what are these life style changes connected?

They are often linked to urbanization, diet, sugary drinks and to the consumption of red meat and processed meats. At the same time, the tendency for women to have children later in life, to have fewer children and to breast feed only for short periods of time is associated with the increase in the incidence of breast cancer in numerous countries.

Has not classic oncology, founded before all else on the concept of mutation, been overtaken by the emergence of new toxicological paradigms?

I would certainly not say that the concept of mutation [of a cell – LeM] has been, one way or another, made obsolete by recent advances in the understanding of molecular mechanisms facilitating cancer. Cancers are to the contrary characterized by a large number of mutations.

I would further say that the discovery of new “events” at the molecular or cellular level which lead to the development of a cancer come with and complement the fundamental work undertaken on mutations and offer fantastic opportunities to study the prevention, the early detection and treatment of this illness.

It is very stimulating to witness the arrival of new tools for the investigation of different “events” – as for example epigenetic modifications [certain changes in DNA or in the genetic environment – LeM] which may be produced among populations.

One of the critical challenges with which we are confronted is to understand how, beyond the induction of mutations, environmental or behavioral factors have an impact on the risk of developing cancer. This information is fundamental for prevention and early detection and has been until the present time largely neglected, compared to other domains of cancer research.

Has not the epidemiology of cancer arrived at a limit, in fact, at the current time, on the effects of environmental factors – as, for example, exposure to toxic chemicals – during critical periods of development such as fetal, perinatal, adolescence – which may, in the majority of cases, be accounted for?

Take care: it would be a mistake to believe that exposure during adult life might be without importance or necessarily less important than exposure during the perinatal period. However, epidemiology must certainly consider life taken as a whole and must measure exposure during all periods of life, as accurately as possible, while using the most feasible instruments, such as questionnaires, environmental measurements or biological markers, for example.

I do not think that exposure during adolescence or in the period around birth cannot be measured, but I recognize that to obtain accurate measurements is certainly a challenge to the extent that the exposure occurred in the past. The encouraging news is that new scientific developments will permit meeting this challenge.

What are they?

I will cite two: The first is that certain environmental exposures leave a molecular “tattoo” in DNA – in the blood cells, or in the tumor itself, for example – that can be detected many years after expression. This allows the beginning of an opening of a window into the past.

The second is that there are in the world a large number of recruited individuals from mother-father-children cohorts, who provide biological samples. In these studies it is possible to link exposures in the perinatal period with changes in the biology of the child.

One might then interpret these observations in connection with abnormalities of cellular or molecular function observed later in life. There again, this will allow the establishment of a bridge between an event that occurred early in life and its consequences much later.

This is Bill Spurlin’s translation of an interview given by Dr Christopher Wild to Le Monde, published here without objection from the IARC.

I Punched Holden Caulfield

I punched Holden Caulfield in the face, and he fell heavily
On the ground, ideology oozing out of him
But that did not save Jack.

I went on my way for years and came back to that spot.
Holden was gone, having climbed back into his book,
Where he lives on, dead like Jack.

When in a hotel room near San Marcos in 2010
I heard about Salinger’s death, I cried.
(Not Jack’s Salinger; J. D.)

Wept a lot, broke down actually
for several hours. They were all really dead now,
Franny, Zooey, Holden and Jack.

Near Meriden, CT

It wasn’t that the people I met in my brief visit to Radio Mountain were
Uninterested in sex; they seemed to consider it more of a distraction –
Something unnecessarily complicated, like stereophonic sound.

Full of joy, they showed me the radio console they had built themselves:
Monaural, with built in limiting and several sides so that colleagues
Could sit down together and broadcast programs at the same time.

We took a run through the heavenly fields outside the studio, with the dogs.
My arthritis vanished, and the dogs enjoyed the run as much as I did.
Reversing direction suddenly one of them, a large furry bowling ball,
Came in collision with me and we all ended up in a laughing heap.

Over there the transmitting towers pointed, not skywards
Because we were already there, but everywhere, exciting the ether
With celestial bop. So fast. Can you imagine dancing to that?

There is sadness aplenty there too, remembering friends lost.
I actually cried when I saw snow, not knowing it snows
In every month there, a little bit, not like the tragic winter
That sometimes occurs in other parts of New England.

But, being near Connecticut, Heaven could hardly be without snow.
The road to it is easy, about nineteen miles west by south of Hartford.
There is a brook called Sodom near a medical center off I-691.
Take the first exit and follow the brook north to Rte. 71.
Go right, and you will soon see the entrance to Hubbard Park and the Peaks.

Danny Schechter obit March 19, 2015

I am weeping for you, old comrade,
As much for battles won as lost
For friendships ended over principles
The saddened victors living on and on.

I’d like to think of you in some leftist Valhalla
Celebrating endlessly, a hip chick on each arm,
But we all know how irrational that is.
Anyway, your spirit doesn’t need an afterlife.

Every one of us holds a piece of you,
Laugh, memory, idea, note, picture or scar.
We are way too many for you to be forgotten;
A legion of swirling infinite thoughts about you.

God, what an appetite for life, and energy,
If I had one fifth of yours I’d be famous, too.
Was it you who invented Too Much Information?
Did the number of your pages reach one million?

There is a lot in your life to be envious about
Or, for some, jealous. I prefer to think of your mind;
The clarity of it; the ability to distinguish details
From the essential, and to move forward based on that.



Please click on the picture for more on Danny Schechter from

August 1, 1914

EPSON scanner image

René Magritte,

La Grande Guerre

(The Great War)


À la fin tu es las de ce monde ancien

Bergère ô tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bêle ce matin

Tu en as assez de vivre dans l’antiquité grecque et romaine

Ici même les automobiles ont l’air d’être anciennes
La religion seule est restée toute neuve la religion
Est restée simple comme les hangars de Port-Aviation

Seul en Europe tu n’es pas antique ô Christianisme
L’Européen le plus moderne c’est vous Pape Pie X
Et toi que les fenêtres observent la honte te retient
D’entrer dans une église et de t’y confesser ce matin
Tu lis les prospectus les catalogues les affiches qui chantent tout haut
Voilà la poésie ce matin et pour la prose il y a les journaux
Il y a les livraisons à 25 centimes pleines d’aventures policières
Portraits des grands hommes et mille titres divers

J’ai vu ce matin une rue dont j’ai oublié le nom
Neuve et propre du soleil elle était le clairon
Les directeurs les ouvriers et les belles sténodactylographes
Du lundi matin au samedi soir quatre fois par jour y passent
Le matin par trois fois la sirène y gémit
Une cloche rageuse y aboie vers midi
Les inscriptions des enseignes et des murailles
Les plaques les avis à la façon des perroquets criaillent
J’aime la grâce de cette rue industrielle
Située à Paris entre la rue Aumont-Thiéville et l’avenue des Ternes

Voilà la jeune rue et tu n’es encore qu’un petit enfant
Ta mère ne t’habille que de bleu et de blanc
Tu es très pieux et avec le plus ancien de tes camarades René Dalize
Vous n’aimez rien tant que les pompes de l’Église
Il est neuf heures le gaz est baissé tout bleu vous sortez du dortoir en cachette
Vous priez toute la nuit dans la chapelle du collège
Tandis qu’éternelle et adorable profondeur améthyste
Tourne à jamais la flamboyante gloire du Christ
C’est le beau lys que tous nous cultivons
C’est la torche aux cheveux roux que n’éteint pas le vent
C’est le fils pâle et vermeil de la douloureuse mère
C’est l’arbre toujours touffu de toutes les prières
C’est la double potence de l’honneur et de l’éternité
C’est l’étoile à six branches
C’est Dieu qui meurt le vendredi et ressuscite le dimanche
C’est le Christ qui monte au ciel mieux que les aviateurs
Il détient le record du monde pour la hauteur

Pupille Christ de l’œil
Vingtième pupille des siècles il sait y faire
Et changé en oiseau ce siècle comme Jésus monte dans l’air
Les diables dans les abîmes lèvent la tête pour le regarder
Ils disent qu’il imite Simon Mage en Judée
Ils crient s’il sait voler qu’on l’appelle voleur
Les anges voltigent autour du joli voltigeur
Icare Énoch Élie Apollonius de Thyane
Flottent autour du premier aéroplane
Ils s’écartent parfois pour laisser passer ceux qui portent la Sainte-Eucharistie
Ces prêtres qui montent éternellement en élevant l’hostie
L’avion se pose enfin sans refermer les ailes
Le ciel s’emplit alors de millions d’hirondelles
À tire d’aile viennent les corbeaux les faucons les hiboux
D’Afrique arrivent les ibis les flamands les marabouts
L’oiseau Roc célébré par les conteurs et les poètes
Plane tenant dans les serres le crâne d’Adam la première tête
L’aigle fond de l’horizon en poussant un grand cri
Et d’Amérique vient le petit colibri
De Chine sont venus les pihis longs et souples
Qui n’ont qu’une seule aile et volent par couples
Puis voici la colombe esprit immaculé
Qu’escortent l’oiseau-lyre et le paon ocellé
Le phénix ce bûcher qui soi-même s’engendre
Un instant voile tout de son ardente cendre
Les sirènes laissant les périlleux détroits
Arrivent en chantant bellement toutes trois
Et tous aigle phénix et pihis de la Chine
Fraternisent avec la volante machine

Maintenant tu marches dans Paris tout seul parmi la foule
Des troupeaux d’autobus mugissants près de toi roulent
L’angoisse de l’amour te serre le gosier
Comme si tu ne devais jamais plus être aimé
Si tu vivais dans l’ancien temps tu entrerais dans un monastère
Vous avez honte quand vous vous surprenez à dire une prière
Tu te moques de toi et comme le feu de l’Enfer ton rire pétille
Les étincelles de ton rire dorent le fond de ta vie
C’est un tableau pendu dans un sombre musée
Et quelquefois tu vas le regarder de près

Aujourd’hui tu marches dans Paris les femmes sont ensanglantées
C’était et je voudrais ne pas m’en souvenir c’était au déclin de la beauté

Entourée de flammes ferventes Notre-Dame m’a regardé à Chartres
Le sang de votre Sacré-Cœur m’a inondé à Montmartre
Je suis malade d’ouïr les paroles bienheureuses
L’amour dont je souffre est une maladie honteuse
Et l’image qui te possède te fait survivre dans l’insomnie et dans l’angoisse
C’est toujours près de toi cette image qui passe

Maintenant tu es au bord de la Méditerranée
Sous les citronniers qui sont en fleur toute l’année
Avec tes amis tu te promènes en barque
L’un est Nissard il y a un Mentonasque et deux Turbiasques
Nous regardons avec effroi les poulpes des profondeurs
Et parmi les algues nagent les poissons images du Sauveur

Tu es dans le jardin d’une auberge aux environs de Prague
Tu te sens tout heureux une rose est sur la table
Et tu observes au lieu d’écrire ton conte en prose
La cétoine qui dort dans le cœur de la rose
Épouvanté tu te vois dessiné dans les agates de Saint-Vit
Tu étais triste à mourir le jour où tu t’y vis
Tu ressembles au Lazare affolé par le jour
Les aiguilles de l’horloge du quartier juif vont à rebours
Et tu recules aussi dans ta vie lentement
En montant au Hradchin et le soir en écoutant
Dans les tavernes chanter des chansons tchèques

Te voici à Marseille au milieu des pastèques

Te voici à Coblence à l’hôtel du Géant

Te voici à Rome assis sous un néflier du Japon

Te voici à Amsterdam avec une jeune fille que tu trouves belle et qui est laide
Elle doit se marier avec un étudiant de Leyde
On y loue des chambres en latin Cubicula locanda
Je me souviens j’y ai passé trois jours et autant à Gouda

Tu es à Paris chez le juge d’instruction
Comme un criminel on te met en état d’arrestation

Tu as fait de douloureux et de joyeux voyages
Avant de t’apercevoir du mensonge et de l’âge
Tu as souffert de l’amour à vingt et à trente ans
J’ai vécu comme un fou et j’ai perdu mon temps

Tu n’oses plus regarder tes mains et à tous moments je voudrais sangloter
Sur toi sur celle que j’aime sur tout ce qui t’a épouvanté

Tu regardes les yeux pleins de larmes ces pauvres émigrants
Ils croient en Dieu ils prient les femmes allaitent les enfants
Ils emplissent de leur odeur le hall de la gare Saint-Lazare
Ils ont foi dans leur étoile comme les rois-mages
Ils espèrent gagner de l’argent dans l’Argentine
Et revenir dans leur pays après avoir fait fortune
Une famille transporte un édredon rouge comme vous transportez votre cœur
Cet édredon et nos rêves sont aussi irréels
Quelques-uns de ces émigrants restent ici et se logent
Rue des Rosiers ou rue des Écouffes dans des bouges
Je les ai vu souvent le soir ils prennent l’air dans la rue
Et se déplacent rarement comme les pièces aux échecs
Il y a surtout des juifs leurs femmes portent perruque
Elles restent assises exsangues au fond des boutiques

Tu es debout devant le zinc d’un bar crapuleux
Tu prends un café à deux sous parmi les malheureux

Tu es la nuit dans un grand restaurant

Ces femmes ne sont pas méchantes elles ont des soucis cependant
Toutes même la plus laide a fait souffrir son amant

Elle est la fille d’un sergent de ville de Jersey

Ses mains que je n’avais pas vues sont dures et gercées

J’ai une pitié immense pour les coutures de son ventre

J’humilie maintenant à une pauvre fille au rire horrible ma bouche

Tu es seul le matin va venir
Les laitiers font tinter leurs bidons dans les rues

La nuit s’éloigne ainsi qu’une belle Métive
C’est Ferdine la fausse ou Léa l’attentive

Et tu bois cet alcool brûlant comme ta vie
Ta vie que tu bois comme une eau-de-vie

Tu marches vers Auteuil tu veux aller chez toi à pied
Dormir parmi tes fétiches d’Océanie et de Guinée
Ils sont des Christ d’une autre forme et d’une autre croyance
Ce sont les Christ inférieurs des obscures espérances

Adieu Adieu

Soleil cou coupé

Guillaume Apollinaire, Alcools, 1913.