College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
History, United States
Thomas J Jackson, Stonewall Jackson, T J Jackson, Jackson, Civil War, Lost Cause, Confederate States of America, Confederacy
Throughout history, most individuals have lived their lives, and then faded into oblivion with little to remember them by. Relatively few receive credit for significantly affecting the course of human history and obtain appropriate remembrance in accounts of the past. For those whose memories endure, due to the unrepeatable nature of past events, history remains vulnerable to the corrupting influence of myths and legends that distort historical realities. Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863) serves as a prime example of an historical figure, who, though deserving of his place in history, has been subsequently distorted by biographers and memory.
The following discussion largely passes over the general’s already well-analyzed military career, and explores other factors that contributed to his incredible rise in fame to the exalted position of southern hero. Topics include Jackson’s well-documented eccentricities, the manner of his death, the social climate of the post-war South, and his subsequent treatment by early biographers. All will contribute to the answer of the question, “what made Jackson into a legend?”