The Virginia legislature tabled proposals to establish a state bicentennial commission to honor Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Along with the national commission 10 states have established their own commissions to mark the event. There are no surprises as to why Virginia is reluctant. Just listen to the following:
A Richmond resident spoke against the commission, charging it represents
"historical myopia and amnesia at its worse" and "kowtowing to the leader of
Robert Lamb, a lawyer and member of Sons of Confederate Veterans who said he
was speaking as an individual, said Lincoln as U.S. president during the Civil
War sent armies into Virginia who "laid waste to the land," among other
I agree with Brian Dirck’s summary of the situation:
I think we all know what happened here; Virginia’s self-appointed keepers of the
Confederate flame flexed their political muscles, and triumphed in their ongoing
campaign to put a particular slant on the way Americans view the Civil War and
What is so disappointing is that their view of Virginia’s Civil War legacy is anything but historical. The basic approach of those like Robert Lamb is to reduce the war to a simple distinction between us and them. We are to believe that everyone in Virginia was pro-Confederate. When Lamb speaks of "Virginia’s enemies" he is no doubt speaking for some white Virginians and fails to understand that tens of thousands of black Virginians held very different views during the war and after as they continued to celebrate Lincoln as a liberator. Nelson Lankford’s excellent book, Richmond Burning details the celebrations that took place in the city’s streets as Lincoln entered in April 1865. There are plenty of Virginians who have an interest in celebrating the memory and legacy of Lincoln. Unfortunately, those like Lamb can’t acknowledge this because in their view Virginia’s Civil War is the story of white Virginians.
If this is any indication of how Virginia’s legislature is going to handle problems of interpretation during the Civil War sesquicentennial than we are in serious trouble.