By the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, it was nearly impossible to know from the commemoration why the war had happened or who had won. The year was 1913, and the President was Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner to hold the office since 1850. Wilson had been a historian before entering politics, and his book A History of the American People was tinged with Lost Cause interpretations. He described the Ku Klux Klan as "an empire of the South" created by men "roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation." It was no surprise, then, that his remarks at Gettysburg completely avoided slavery. Instead he chose to talk about "gallant men in blue and gray ... our battles long past, our quarrels forgotten."
April 12, 2011--the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter. Gore Vidal termed our republic "The United States of Amnesia," and in a well-crafted dramatized manner makes clear in his novel Lincoln that while slavery was the main cause of the Civil War, on a day-to-day basis during the war, slavery was rarely the overwhelming issue inside military headquarters and The White House. There was much going on, and situations and motivations were complicated for nearly every historic actor of the bloody drama, whether it was Lincoln himself, Sec. of War Stanton, Sec. of Treasury Chase, or even one actual actor named Booth.
In his novel Hollywood, Vidal also touches on President Wilson's sympathy to the "Lost Cause" school of interpretation about the Civil War mentioned in the Time magazine article linked to above.