The Southern Historical Society (SHS) was founded May 1, 1869, in New Orleans. Charter members included such notables as Generals Dabney H. Maury, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Simon Buckner and Reverend Benjamin M. Palmer. The mission of the SHS was to record the history of the Confederacy and, more particularly, the military actions. The first Chairman was General Braxton Bragg.

On August 14, 1873, several officers of the SHS gathered at Montgomery White Sulphur Springs for a meeting ostensibly to talk of ways to continue their work, gain more attention, and raise money. It was decided that the Society would be headquartered in Virginia and that all Society officials must be Virginians, with the exception of a Vice President from each former Confederate state. General Jubal Early's term as president of the Southern Historical Society began at the 1873 meeting.1

Revising History

In 1876, the Society began publishing its letters and accounts of the Confederacy. As time went on, the publication reflected the perceptible need of the Society's officers to place blame for the failure of The Cause on former comrades in arms. By the end of the nineteenth century, old Confederates such as Walter Taylor (General Lee's Chief of Staff), Armistead Long (Lee's Chief of Artillery), Charles Venable (Lee's aide) and Fitzhugh Lee (Lee's nephew) had contributed to the vilification of men such as James Longstreet, James Kemper, George Pickett, J.E.B. Stuart, and Richard S. Ewell.2 General Lee, who detested faultfinding within his army, had died October 12, 1870, and thus opened the floodgates of criticism.

Sadly, many historians -- including authors -- accepted the SHS's version of Confederate history, military and otherwise, as a true record of facts, and that version has been repeated to history students in countless books, articles and presentations ever since.

"President" George E. Pickett

Over the years, we have heard that George E. Pickett served as president of the Society. Lesley Gordon's book, "General George Pickett in Life and Legend," published in 1998, states "George served as president of the Southern Historical Society."3 We contacted Lesley Gordon requesting her source for the inaccuracy, but we received no response from her. The Southern Historical Society's own records reflect that Pickett never served as its president or in any other official capacity. Further, he did not contribute written material for publication in the Society's journal.

1Southern Historical Society Papers 349-365 (18)
2Southern Cultures, Starnes, :Forever Faithful," 179 (2)
3Gordon, "General George Pickett in Life and Legend,: 162

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Created: 11-13-02
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