Never Surrender

Confederate Memory and Conservatism in the South Carolina Upcountry

Title Details

Pages: 288

Illustrations: 5 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/26/2004

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2508-8

List Price: $32.95

Never Surrender

Confederate Memory and Conservatism in the South Carolina Upcountry

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  • Awards

Near Appomattox, during a cease-fire in the final hours of the Civil War, Confederate general Martin R. Gary harangued his troops to stand fast and not lay down their arms. Stinging the soldiers' home-state pride, Gary reminded them that "South Carolinians never surrender." By focusing on a reactionary hotbed within a notably conservative state—South Carolina's hilly western "upcountry"—W. Scott Poole chronicles the rise of a post-Civil War southern culture of defiance whose vestiges are still among us.

The society of the rustic antebellum upcountry, Poole writes, clung to a set of values that emphasized white supremacy, economic independence, masculine honor, evangelical religion, and a rejection of modernity. In response to the Civil War and its aftermath, this amorphous tradition cohered into the Lost Cause myth, by which southerners claimed moral victory despite military defeat. It was a force that would undermine Reconstruction and, as Poole shows in chapters on religion, gender, and politics, weave its way into nearly every dimension of white southern life. The Lost Cause's shadow still looms over the South, Poole argues, in contemporary controversies such as those over the display of the Confederate flag.

Never Surrender brings new clarity to the intellectual history of southern conservatism and the South's collective memory of the Civil War.

In this examination of the experience and evolution of memory, celebration, and symbols in the South Carolina upcountry, Poole explains how the 'Lost Cause' became transformed from 'a living ideology of defiance' to 'a dead past to be honored.' He provides fresh insights and understanding of the roots of southern conservatism and the central role of Pitchfork Ben Tillman in making racial violence a central element in his state's transition to modernity.

—Orville Vernon Burton, University of Illinois

An important study of the changes in political perspective that took place among white men in upper South Carolina after the Civil War . . . An important study of a southern state in the last third of the nineteenth century.

Civil War Book Review

The virtues of Poole's work are many . . . this is a good book and, what is more, it is a significant and original contribution. It brings a new and welcome intellectual rigor to the study of the meaning, and the political, social, and cultural consequences, of Confederate memory.

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Never Surrender greatly enriches our understanding of the conservative tradition in the postwar South, while challenging many former assumptions. . . . This excellent book will appeal mostly to specialists in this period of southern history, many of whom will find its arguments compelling.

Public Historian

Poole has given us a detailed and careful account of Reconstruction and its aftermath in South Carolina. . . . Americans today have witnessed the rise of the NAACP and black political power. In South Carolina, the NAACP has recently been victorious in arguing against the displaying of the Confederate battle flag, at least on publicly supported premises. Poole’s book provides a context for such contemporary South Carolina controversies.

American Historical Review

Poole has uncovered a niche in the vast region of the American South that offers explanation and depth to previous studies of the Lost Cause. Perhaps most significantly, he has demonstrated a way for scholars to mediate between the two dominant interpretations proposed by Wilson and Foster.

Journal of Southern Religion

Poole's book represents part of a new wave of scholarship on the Lost Cause that builds on but challenges the conclusions Gaines M. Foster and Charles Reagan Wilson drew in the 1980s. Yet, while Poole has new and significant things to say about the Lost Cause, his deeper purpose is to unravel the ideas of southern conservatism.

Florida Historical Quarterly


Georgia Author of the Year Awards, Georgia Writers Association


George C. Rogers, Jr. Book Award, South Carolina Historical Society

About the Author/Editor

W. SCOTT POOLE is an assistant professor of history at the College of Charleston.