The term "Lost Cause" emerged at the end of the Civil War when Edward Pollard, editor of the Richmond Examiner, popularized it with his book The Lost Cause, which chronicled the Confederacy's demise. The term swiftly came into common use as a reference not only to military defeat, but defeat of the "southern way of life"—a phrase that generally referred to the South of the antebellum period, when plantation slavery was still intact. Since the late nineteenth century, historians have used the term "Lost Cause" to describe a particular belief system as well as commemorative activities that occurred in the South for decades after the Civil War. Commonly held beliefs were that the war was fought over states' rights and not slavery, that slavery was a benevolent institution that offered Christianity to African "savages," and that the war was a just cause in the eyes of God. Commemorative activities included erecting Confederate monuments and celebrating Confederate Memorial Day.
from the Encyclopedia of Alabama