Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends
Guardians of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran
Founded in 1893, the Confederate Veteran was a monthly magazine devoted to the wartime reminiscences of Confederate soldiers. In 1913 founding editor Sumner A. Cunningham died, and his longtime secretary, Edith Drake Pope, succeeded him. Over the next twenty years, she transformed the journal into the official mouthpiece of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which played a leading role in the transmission of the Confederate past to a new generation in the twentieth century.
John A. Simpson explores Edith Pope’s life, work, and legacy, demonstrating that as editor of the Confederate Veteran, Pope guarded the interests of the Lost Cause with grace, strength, and unswerving loyalty. Having secured editorial control from the Confederate memorial associations that opposed her, she skillfully navigated between time-worn practices established by Cunningham and her own inclination toward change in order to attract a younger and more contemporary readership. Her personal connection to the Confederate heritage, through the Civil War experiences of her parents, played an important role in her outlook and her motivations as editor.
Even under Pope’s able-bodied leadership, however, the magazine faced financial challenges to its survival. To meet these challenges, Pope formed a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which became the largest, and arguably, the most influential women’s organization in the South. Simpson pays special attention to the local chapter, known as Nashville Number 1, and its alliance with Pope and the Confederate Veteran. He refutes the notion that members were backward-looking dilettantes and instead draws a complex portrait of women who were actively involved in a broad spectrum of civic, patriotic, religious, educational, and even reform activities. As Simpson reveals, this alliance of women actively shaped southern culture in the early decades of the century, and his analysis sheds new light on the role of professional and club women on southern history.
The Author: John A. Simpson holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Oregon and is author of S.A. Cunningham and the Confederate Heritage and Reminiscences of the 41st Tennessee. He is a public schoolteacher in Kelso, Washington.