In the decades after the Civil War, Southerners wrote and published their own history textbooks for secondary schools. These “mint julep textbooks,” as the Southern all-white editions were called by the 1960s, reinforced a Lost Cause narrative of the war for Southern audiences while competing with Northern versions of events. In this study, we employ both historical narrative and content analysis of six textbooks’ portrayals of John Brown, John Wilkes Booth, and Nathan Bedford Forrest. The textbooks that are compared– three Southern and three Northern – were written from the 1870s through the 1910s. While subtle but important differences emerge between the Northern and Southern depiction of these three figures, an even more important trend developed when analyzing change over time. In this article we conclude that, as time progressed, Southern versions of events increasingly impacted Northern textbooks. By the 1930s, the mint julep version of these three figures became the national consensus, as reflected in the work of historian David Saville Muzzey. This consensus around events like the raid at Harpers Ferry, the assassination of Lincoln, and the massacre at Fort Pillow lasted for much of the 20th century. By the early 20th century, Northerners appeased Southern interests in the writing of history textbooks.
Bohan, Chara H.; Bradshaw, Lauren Yarnell; and Morris, Wade Hampton, "The Mint Julep Consensus: An Analysis of Late 19th Century Southern and Northern Textbooks and Their Impact on the History Curriculum" (2020). Educational Policy Studies Faculty Publications. 36.
Available for download on Monday, January 31, 2022