Civil War Museum Under Fire For Displaying Items From the Civil War

National Civil War MuseumYou heard that right. The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is taking heat from the mayor and others for a new exhibit on firearms sponsored by the National Rifle Association. While the source of the funding has come under scrutiny, the larger concern is the display of weapons, including William Quantrill’s colt revolver.

I spoke at the museum last September and had a chance to hold this specific weapon with the assistance of Wayne Motts, who is the museum’s director. Wayne and the rest of the staff have done a fabulous job promoting Civil War history in the Harrisburg area under conditions that any public historian can appreciate. The permanent exhibit is well executed and offers a comprehensive overview of the war, Reconstruction and memory.

The museum does not “glorify the Confederacy,” Quantrill or violence of any kind. Such comments from the mayor and others suggest that they have not experienced the museum or they are simply out to destroy it. Is it really such a surprise that a Civil War museum would display weapons from the war? Even more bizarre is the implicit assumption that no weapons were on display before this special exhibit. Of course, they are part of the permanent exhibit.

I am not a fan of the NRA, but I don’t see any problem with accepting funding to display items from the museum’s collection. There is no indication that the NRA is responsible for interpreting the items. In fact, as I noted above, the overall exhibit does an excellent job of dealing with the history of slavery, race and racial violence.

All of this said, I think the museum is missing an opportunity to engage with concerned citizens in the community:

“I don’t think the glorification of the heritage of the Confederacy does anybody any good,” said Keith Bentz, a local activist who held a sign at the protest. “We are supposed to all be brothers and sisters. Let’s act like we’re brothers and sisters…Why constantly remind people of color. It’s just wrong.”

Bentz brought a sign that compared Quantrill to Dylann Roof, who was accused of killing nine churchgoers in Charleston last year. Another protestor’s sign simply said, “An affront to decency.”

Homer Floyd, former longtime leader of the state’s human relations commission, planned the protest Wednesday night to coincide with the opening of a reception at the museum to celebrate the NRA’s outdoor show. Floyd said he thinks Quantrill was a terrorist and that historical items associated with Quantrill should be handled with sensitivity.

Alan Kennedy Shaffer, a local attorney and Harrisburg School Board member, showed up in the bitter temperatures Wednesday night to support the effort. He noted the country had made progress recently by taking down Confederate flags, recognizing they can be hurtful. “I think there needs to be a distinction between gawking at a weapon of hate and exploring the context so we can all learn,” he said.

This is an opportunity to welcome concerned citizens into the museum to discuss the meaning of the Civil War in light of recent events and the current racial climate. I am not suggesting that it would be easy, but it is an opportunity to hold meaningful conversation about this important moment in American history and the ways in which it still shapes our understanding of the present and vice versa.

Where else do these artifacts belong if not in a museum?

164 comments… add one
  • Marc bertke Feb 11, 2016

    Personally its history that’s appart of us and the war to begin with wasn’t about slavery at all it was about state rights so people need to get off the don’t show anything Confederate get your history right before you say something or get offended by it

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Thanks for the comment, but I respectfully suggest that you do some reading. Slavery was central to secession, the course the war talk and its consequences.

      • Wayne Pearce Feb 11, 2016

        “Thanks for the comment, but I respectfully suggest that you do some reading. Slavery was central to secession, the course the war talk and its consequences.”

        I was going to share your article until I read that statement. No I think it’s you that need to read a little more.
        I wouldn’t read one of your books now if you paid me too.

        • Kevin Levin Feb 12, 2016

          Thanks for dropping by, Wayne.

        • Grant Mishoe Apr 26, 2017

          Mr. Levin is dead on the money. The main purpose of secession was the protection of States Rights… the main right being to continue an agricultural system created by slave labor. You cannot sugar coat it any other way.

          • Doug Apr 26, 2017

            Absolutely right, secession was about the protection of property rights and the VAST majority of the dollar value of the South was invested in human bondage.

        • Aubrey Brown Apr 28, 2017

          They deleted my post . What a liberal progressive leftist site. Don’t waste your time here. I’m spreading the word via social media etc,. to expose the truth about
          Have a nice day

          • Kevin Levin Apr 29, 2017

            This post is now closed to comment. It is an old post and most of the comments coming in right now have nothing to do with the narrow subject at hand. Thank you for your interest in Civil War Memory.


      • Eric Guyton Feb 12, 2016

        It was about States Rights up until the Emancipation Proclamation 1863. The war started in 1861. When the British were going to join in and side with the South is when Lincoln did the proclamation, because Britain had already outlawed Slavery, and therefore would join the South if that was the main Issue. The initial issue was the cost of taxes moving Southern product to markets in the North and ship ports in the North. There as many black slave owners as white slave owners, and the were in all states. Even American Indians had slaves, both black & white. The Irish sent 600,000 children as slaves to the states as well. [during the potato blight] The US is the only country to fight a war to Stop slavery, which slavery still exist. If you want to get up in arms over slavery, rather than dell of the mistakes of the past, do something about the present. Deal with the groups that still have slaves.

  • Rob Baker Feb 11, 2016

    …smh :/

  • Jerry Sudduth Jr. Feb 11, 2016

    Al Mackey’s done a good job of document the actions the mayor of Harrisburg’s been taking to get rid of this museum for awhile and the faux outrage he’s displaying and his ability to stoke genuine though misplaced outrage in others may allow him to get his wish. If the people protesting would walk inside they may actually change their minds.

    From what I’ve read and seen the museum is a national asset, well worth what it costs. I sincerely doubt they’re glorifying someone like Quantrill.

    By displaying his weapon, however, a dialogue about what this weapon meant in the fighting in Missouri is a valuable starting point. It’s a stark reminder about the machinations of war and the consequences it brings. To censor this discussion is to lose a valuable discussion about the war. To close this museum would be a loss to the nation.

  • Marti McCorkendale Feb 11, 2016

    Can people be anymore stupid. smh

  • Don Feb 11, 2016

    i\I was at the museum about a month and I loved it. This PC stuff is getting out of hand.

  • Michael Skinner Feb 11, 2016

    Thanks to you and your concentrated efforts to keep race as the main precursor to war…the extremists have used your “facts” to keep pushing for a historical cleansing. Keep whipping up the haters and you reap what you sow. Your veiled attempts to be historical are sadly causing history to be rewritten to your liking….that is not objective or scholarly, regardless of your accolades.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Thanks for the comment as well as the reminder that I am on the right track. 🙂

  • R. E. Watson Feb 11, 2016

    Only one thought comes to mind: You can’t fix stupid ! 🙁

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      I wish we could move away from name calling. It does nothing to move the discussion forward.

  • Richard Feb 11, 2016

    Isn’t this a natural, though unfortunate, continuation of the recent movement to remove Confederate iconography from public areas? It starts with flags on state grounds, moves to monuments in public areas and eventually finds itself in publicly accessed (and/or funded) museums? It’s sort of the cliché “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

    This does not mean I oppose the discussions of Confederate items in public – most of it seems reasonable to me – but this story does not strike me as a surprise. And if there is ever momentum in removing items from museums – I sure hope that does not happen – then I imagine there will be efforts to remove them from private hands. This may be an exaggeration on my part, but who knows?

    Maybe this will be sort of a fluke and not happen in many other museums and the discussion can remain on items intended for glorification not education and other non-museum areas.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Isn’t this a natural, though unfortunate, continuation of the recent movement to remove Confederate iconography from public areas?

      No, I don’t think it is, though I do think that the current climate exacerbates certain concerns or suspicions from certain segments of the population that have a fairly long history. That is why I think this represents an opportunity for the museum to engage those interested in a discussion about some of these tough questions surrounding Civil War memory.

  • Richard Feb 11, 2016

    Thanks – that is a good way to put it.

  • David Cochrane Feb 11, 2016

    History also reminds us not to do certain things again.

  • Boyd Harris Feb 11, 2016

    I visited the Alamo in October and got to see their NRA sponsored collection of 19th century firearm reproductions. It included flintlocks to Sharps carbines. The curator spoke very candidly about what the mission of the Alamo was and how the collaboration with the NRA helped further that mission by educating the public of the history of San Antonio through living history programs. We discussed at length the role of the NRA in providing these firearms. The programs were very well done and he went in depth on how the interpreters received training and how the program was not a place to debate the 2nd amendment. I was unaware of the role of the NRA in providing funding for historic sites and museums. I will admit I do have conflicted feelings about it.

    As for the critics of the Quantrill exhibit, they are fully within their 1st amendment rights to protest the museum. I personally do not agree after reading the news article and your blog, but I will withhold my final opinion until I learn more about the exhibit.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Hi Boyd,

      Thanks for the comment. I can definitely relate to feeling “conflicted” about the NRA. The 2nd Amendment is a slippery rock, but there should be room to discuss concerns among many white Americans (North and South) about the arming of African Americans during the war. It certainly emerges by the time of the battle of the Crater and remains an issue during Reconstruction and beyond.

      • Tim Stewart Feb 11, 2016

        Good fact filled information. However I disagree with the notion “the 2nd Amendment is a slippery rock”. A rock yes. But the only thing slippery is the idea that some of our constitutionally affirmed rights are subject to removal! Well perhaps slimy would be a better adjective.

  • plasley43 Feb 11, 2016

    Dear plasley43,

    Thank you for the comment, but we are not going to rehash the importance of slavery to the war. Feel free to comment on the subject of this post.

    Thank you.


  • Josh Troyer Feb 11, 2016

    To engage these people in an open forum gives validity to their idiotic views. I would ignore them and tell them to go with God and enjoy their ‘safe spaces’ and try to avoid hearing any trigger words.

  • Marc Nameth Feb 11, 2016

    The display is historical fact. Homer Floyd et al? Busybody extremists like the days of a communist behind every tree. McCarthyism in a different way damning others engaged in normal everyday activities but accusing them as racists or terrorists. Redefining Museum collections is the same as redefining book collections in a library. A museum IS a library. It provides references of a visual nature. In fact many locales combine their library and museums. Floyd’s witch hunt is egregiously out of line with his over-stretching of definitions to suppress free speech of this public institution providing reference materials from events related to the US Civil War. We had to defeat McCarthyism. Library’s have fought book burning battles before. Maybe it’s time for Museum curators to do the same. Perhaps the ACLU might be interested in the new McCarthyism of Floyd’s witch hunt under First Amendment principles.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      “Witch Hunt”, “McCarthyism”? No extremism here. Thanks for the comment.

  • “Where else do these artifacts belong if not in a museum?” Discussions over the causes of the war aside, I can only add the quote from George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  • Lissa Feb 11, 2016

    Dear Lissa,

    You are more than welcome to comment on the subject of this post, but we are not going to re-hash questions about the connection between slavery and the Civil War.

    Thank you.


  • Robert Heistand Feb 11, 2016

    Let us look at the REAL issue here it has nothing to do with the museum or guns or the Civil War it is the Freaks and weirdos demanding to be heard. They neither know or care anything about history unless they can distort it for their own gains.

  • Randy Watkins Feb 11, 2016

    Why can’t we disconnect the military and the social aspects of the war. Museum artifacts such as weapons show as much about what the Union troops had to contend with on the battlefield as it does about what kind of weapons were used by both sides. Without weapons in a museum how can the tragedy of war be demonstrated.

    Monuments to Lee and other Confederate generals don’t celebrate their politics or social beliefs. They celebrate their military talents.

    Quantrill was a war criminal but and that weapon is a reminder of his violent actions. If we forget him, we might not remember that such things happen in war and not avoid war.

    Read Kevin Levin’s books, especially the one on the Crater, and you may better understand from whence he comes.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Monuments to Lee and other Confederate generals don’t celebrate their politics or social beliefs. They celebrate their military talents.

      Quite the contrary. Many dedication addresses to Confederate military leaders framed their importance around politics.

  • scriberman Feb 11, 2016

    Dear scriberman,

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but this is not a place to rehash the cause of the war or the role of slavery. You are free to comment on the subject of this post.

    Thanks for your understanding.


  • Rory Calhoun Feb 11, 2016

    Mark Bertke, my great great grandfather was in the 8th Virginia Cavalry. He did not own slaves and I know he did not find for the Confederacy for slaves but ALL the Confederate States in their Succession Documents clearly stated it was the Federal Governments lack of support for slavery was the Reason they succeeded from the Union. You bet your life it was ALL ABOUT SLAVERY! It’s not me, its the Southern States!

  • David C Feb 11, 2016

    While I agree that disagreements such as this should open broader dialogues on the meaning and place of the war in today’s society, are we perhaps missing another issue at play. My understanding is that the artifacts in the museum are owned by the city (questions about their purchase aside) and are now being used as part of a display for an NRA event. Perhaps at the root of this uproar is as much with an anti-NRA agenda as with an attempt to mold historical memory? Would the city and protesters have anything to gain by framing their protest against the war as opposed to the putative NRA-city affiliation?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      My understanding is that the artifacts in the museum are owned by the city (questions about their purchase aside) and are now being used as part of a display for an NRA event. Perhaps at the root of this uproar is as much with an anti-NRA agenda as with an attempt to mold historical memory?

      I am unclear as to the ownership of the items, but assuming you are right I think we need to distinguish between the NRA and the focus of the exhibit. As I pointed out in the post, I don’t support the NRA, but I do believe that the staff at the National Civil War Museum knows how to display and interpret these items.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Robert W Ryder Feb 11, 2016

    Geez, your not kiddin!!!! Sooo bizzare!!!#! 🙁

  • Durand Cornish Feb 11, 2016

    Does this mean that if each and every exhibit isn’t about the glories of being Black, nor about Blacks being the perpetual victim of every act on the planet, that it’s not supposed to be shown, depicted, nor talked about, even in museums? Maybe the mayor of that dump, Harrisburg needs a lesson in history, and less on fear of retribution for not being totally, and eternally focused on the history of Black Americans?

  • Msb Feb 11, 2016

    “To engage these people in an open forum” sounds like the best way to explore and/or counter their views. Why should they change their views if they encounter no opposition? I agree with Kevin, this is an opportunity for the museum to do its job even better, as well as a problem.

  • Dan Feb 11, 2016

    Well it’s pretty simple really, the civil war happened, it is part of our history good or bad so it needs to be studied, it needs to be remembered, and it should not have any bearing who funds it

  • Dawn Koenen Feb 11, 2016

    Sad & ridiculous, history is what it is, history! Cannot change it or “leave out the parts you dislike or disagree with”. As a nation we learn & grow from history. Displaying antique items should be shared with the public. “Political correctness has gone to far” Please continue to share your passion of our past relics from every war!

  • RJ Foster Feb 11, 2016

    Figures. Typical. Destroy anything historical, just because it doesn’t fit your agenda. We learn from History and if there is none, we learn NOTHING!. In Europe they will take a road way out of the way to protect ruins from being demolished. Here in the USA, we will mow down historical structures to build a parking lot. SMH. Things happen in history, both good and Bad. It is the story of US! Learn from the bad things and move forward. These things need to be displayed for future generations to know where we came from and how we have advanced!

  • Kurt Maneval Feb 11, 2016

    Mr. Levin,
    I live in an area of SW Missouri that was devastated during the war by both Union forces and Confederate forces; men like Quantrill and Tom Livingston.

    Some of my friends that I grew up with are descended from bushwhackers that rode with both of those men; and while they were always proud of their heritage, none of them, or any of us for that matter, were under the illusion of what had happened was anything less than a battle of survival for both sides.

    Why? Because not only did we have excellent teachers who did their best to explain the myriad of things that happened here during the war, WE also took it upon ourselves to learn about the war and its consequences.

    And isn’t that what history’s about? Encouraging people to learn?

    I wish you and your family well, sir, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

  • pat chi Feb 11, 2016

    Politicos need no help to appear foolish. Best to ignore them as the gnats they are.

  • Chris Nelson Feb 11, 2016

    Even if one accepts the premises that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, with race or any other issues of class or morality; or if one supposes that the Union was preemptively aggressive in an attempted and actual subjugation of the innocent South, or that the war was “only an economic issue” or a test of States’ Rights against overweening Federal power; even if various participants can be viewed from a century and a half away as “terrorists” or “monsters” of one kind or another – why should the artifacts of the war not be presented? Even if one despises the source of the funding for the exhibit – even for the whole museum, if that’s at issue – unless the organization providing the funds is arranging the exhibit and shading or bending the truth (or lying outright), then why should the artifacts themselves be seen as somehow possessing moral agency? What makes the artifacts “evil”?

    The Civil War happened. Surely we can agree on that central fact. Weapons were used by both sides in the conflict, which must also be indisputable. Soldiers and others were killed on both sides, including women and children who had never taken up arms. None of this is up for debate. These are facts. Showing the weapons, the tools of war, the banners under which men fought – how can the displays of these facts and objects be viewed with such outrage?

    None of us now alive could have participated in that War. “Why they fought” can never be known to us with absolute certainty, since we didn’t fight and have the thoughts ourselves. It is good to review the facts – the weapons, the surviving documentation, banners, flags, uniforms, diaries and maps and other artifacts – in any attempt to try to analyze the facts to gain understanding. No, the war was not simply “about slavery”; that facile understanding also trivializes the reasons that led states to secede from a union that had lasted nearly a century by that time, then amassed armies to rend a country in two and fight so bitterly for so long. But neither was it “just” about economics or sectionalism or industrial North vs. agrarian South or class conflict – though it is also all of those things.

    Let’s have the facts. All of the facts that we can have, including the unpleasant and ugly ones. And then let’s review all of the analyses of “why” in the attempt to form and refine our own understanding. And certainly, let’s review the lessons of history, that we might not have to repeat all of them. By all means we should question the lessons, which is the process by which our understanding grows. To suppress the facts and the analyses seems incredibly foolish. Bring on the facts! Bring on the analyses! Bring on the debates! Let learning occur.

  • Robert D. Sellers Feb 11, 2016

    The Civil War was an important portion of our history, both the good and the bad. For those who have an incessant hatred of firearms, and especially the ones that were used in horrific situations such as this, are totally irrational. A firearm is nothing more than a tool, and in this instance it is a historical piece. To despise a historic object because it was used for killing people over 150 years ago makes no sense at all. It is just another case of people looking for a reason to be offended, and in this case they are offended by a historic firearm. These are the people who would destroy and burn the Enola Gay because it was used to deliver the atomic bomb that killed 100,000 people..

  • Joe Maghe Feb 11, 2016

    Having worked with museums and historical groups in the Kansas/Missouri border area, I have done quite a bit of research regarding Quantrill and other men (and groups of men) who committed what many consider hate crimes. Those actions were carried out by men on both sides… Union or Confederate… abolitionist or pro-slavery. History is not always pretty, but deserves to be portrayed accurately. There is a museum in Baxter Springs, Kansas that would be able to display such items quite appropriately.

  • K. Young Feb 11, 2016

    I hope to see the museum soon Kevin! As a Rev War reenactor, it constantly amazes me how some folks just can’t come to grips with our history. Can’t change it. It wasn’t all peaches & cream. Some look at an historical exhibit or artifact…or battle reenactment, and they just can’t accept that they’re seeing it because that’s the way it was, and it’s our history. No hidden agenda’s here. Nope. Just history goin’ on. Don’t be offended by learning about the past. Don’t get so critical in your thinking that because some things in history are unbelievable or shocking, they shouldn’t be seen. Your not offended, your just learning!

  • Fredrick Feb 11, 2016

    Bravo Mr. Levin. Owned

  • Stuart McClung Feb 11, 2016

    It’s amazing how these people know so little about their history and understand even less yet are “qualified” to pronounce judgment on same. Ignorance will be the death of this country along with PC.

  • Mike Bethune Feb 11, 2016

    Quantrill was a war criminal? A man protecting his homeland from an invading army. What would you call Sherman, the man that was the invader and murdered civilians and destroyed their homes, a hero. As was said war is hell.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      It was a civil war. Violent acts that went beyond the battlefield were perpetrated by both sides. There are a number of very good books on the nature of violence in the Civil War that I can recommend if interested.

  • Don Hyatt Feb 11, 2016

    Destroying, hiding, and rewriting history are some of the very things engaged in by the Taliban and ISIS. Being aware of and understanding history is 100% distinct from lauding it and and efforts to distort and/or bury the parts we don’t like is an effort based in ignorance.

  • Patrick Jennings Feb 11, 2016

    Back there among the great-grand-pappies of my family there is a Jennings of Missouri who slipped in and out of uniform on the Confederate side of things. Depending on where one stands today he is either a soldier/partisan or a guerrilla/criminal. In actuality he was run out of Missouri for his bad acts but settled in Arkansas after the war with a pardon in his pocket and farming to do. The magic of time is that none of his descendants are even remotely stained by his actions or service over 150 years ago.

    Although it is easy to imagine that we, today with our modern sensibilities, would elect to fight for “good and right” that decision in the 19th Century was likely based more on geography and neighbors than the broader view we imagine we currently hold. Because of time all we have to link us with our past are the artifacts that last, not the memories that confuse us. That gun, Quantrill’s pistol, tells a story. It tells of a violent man who lived by the sword and later died by it. It tells a story of easily forgotten evils and conflicts. As far as I know, and I have spent a lot of time in that area, there is no monument to William Quantrill – nor should there be. But we must hold tight to the memories of our past because they inform our present. If the only good artifact of Quantrill is that pistol then it must be displayed and discussed.

    Somewhere up in the comments above someone let fly that tired old quote by George Santayana about repeating history. As an historian I really hate that quote. History does not repeat itself, people simply act like humans…over and over and over. Contemporary morality or the nearly comical concept that humans are evolving into kinder, gentler creatures will not stop the Quantrill’s or Roof’s of the future. An honest, frank, and open discussion of our past, however, might slow one of them down. Let me put it this way. I would no more want to destroy the site of the Nazi Death Camp at Dachau than I would Quantrill’s pistol. Both stand as powerful reminders not just of what we were, but of what we can be if we are not aware.

    Back in Missouri there is, I believe, more than one gravestone for Quantrill. Both were erected in different places long after he died, but one rather highhandedly borrowed a quote from Lord Byron to decorate the stone…“Here’s a sigh to those who love me, And a smile to those who hate; And whatever sky’s above me, Here’s a heart for every fate.”

    I would hate to think that that is the only lasting artifact of the memory of William Quantrill.

  • Ken Freedman Feb 11, 2016

    When the PC police start they keep pushing until everyone just gets to a point where logic goes out the windows.

  • james j. Feb 11, 2016

    Slavery was rampant in the world before the United States ever existed. That’s a fact that many people conveniently overlook. Your right about suggesting that people research slavery before attacking your efforts to preserve history. If we can’t learn from history we are destined to repeat it.

  • Mike Feb 11, 2016

    When the Confederate Flag was removed from culture we were told it belongs in a Museum, not in public. Now the mantra from these people is that objects like this don’t belong in Museums…They will never be happy

  • Mark Brandenburg Feb 11, 2016

    I have been to the museum in Harrisburg, and enjoyed the presentation there.
    This collection of War Between the States weapons are what you would expect to see in a Civil War Museum. I don’t understand, everybody who lobbies and protest for the removal of public monuments, make the case ” they need to be put in a museum. Here we have a historical display that is realavent to the museam it is being displayed in. Why would anyone have a problem? This is what they say they want, displayed only in a museam with context. My opinion based off the freedom we still enjoy in America is, if this display offends you….Don’t go see it. But you can’t say the museam can’t display it as historians like me want to see them.

  • Jeff Stevens Feb 11, 2016

    What I don’t like is people who are trying to erase American history because they feel it’s somehow wrong to glorify the heritage of the Confederacy. This ‘IS” a museum we’re talking about here and a teaching/ learning institution. If we allow the Politically Correct to erase history and shield us all from the horrific nature of war, slavery, etc… how will we ever come to a point in mankind’s evolution where we don’t make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past. History will serve as a reminder for us all to not allow the atrocities committed in the past from ever being committed again. Exhibits like these are wonderful places of teaching and might I compare the Nay Sayers to the great oppressors we’ve seen throughout world history that wanted to wipe out all traces of history to serve THEIR causes. Your doing a great service to the world, keep it up.

  • darthvector Feb 11, 2016

    According to John McCorkle’s book, Lane and Jennison’s Jayhawkers had looted and burned homes and murdered the fathers, mothers, wives and sisters of Quantrill’s men. War and all the bad feelings that come with it came to Lawrence at it’s founding before any Southern state seceded.

  • MarkJ Feb 11, 2016

    A quick googling of Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Homer Floyd, and Alan Kennedy-Shaffer reveal they have been longtime Democrat operatives. Gee, what a surprise.

    Indeed, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer has apparently been a Harrisburg pain-in-the-a** for years. He’s just managed to get himself appointed last month to the Harrisburg School Board.

    I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that Kennedy-Shaffer, in particular, is trying to drum up publicity for himself to further his political prospects.

    One thing’s for sure: they’re clearly all historically-ignorant idiots.

  • Msb Feb 11, 2016

    @ Durand Cornish

  • Mike Feb 11, 2016

    I don’t understand yoru dislike for the NRA they are the oldest civil rights group in the US. I am surprise you are anti-civil rights. The Mayor doesn’t like the museum and would like it to be gone.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      Guess I will have to take another look at the NRA. Thanks.

  • John Fox Feb 11, 2016

    Well Kevin – This is obvious result of removing parts of our history warts and all. Removing Confederate flags, monuments etc was only beginning. Now it’s Confederate weapons. What’s next? The sanitization that continues of US History is a disgrace!

    • Kevin Levin Feb 11, 2016

      I see it more as a failure to understand the role of museums as well or between glorifying the Confederacy and understanding its history in a museum context. Although Quantrill’s colt revolver was mentioned, much of the criticism had to do with the display of any weapons as if the museum doesn’t already exhibit such artifacts from the war.

  • Tom Feb 11, 2016

    What part of the concept of history don’t these people understand? If the exhibitions did not represent factual events, then I can see the objection, but Quantrill’s Raiders did exist and they were part of the Civil War. Robert E. Lee didn’t want anything to do with them either, but like it or not they are part of the story.

  • Nancy Feb 11, 2016

    I wish folks would stop blaming political correctness for things. Being PC is simply being considerate enough to change terminology deemed offensive by the group to whom it refers. Think about that. It’s really common courtesy, and those of us who have been around a long time remember how negative and awful much of the talk and attitudes used to be. Surely anyone can see that groups have a right to speak up and not be referred to by slurs. Perhaps folks who have a problem with political correctness have never experienced it from the other side?

  • Dennis Disbrow Feb 11, 2016

    This is only a display of weapons used during the war. Not intended to glorify the individuals or the cause. The Museum is a Museum of the Civil War, what would be more appropriate than a display of the weapons used in that conflict. I believe that the mayor is merely using this a step to slowly squeeze the life out of the museum, to discourage people from going. Have no idea if a recall petition would be appropriate or even popular with the people of Harrisburg. But this movement to eliminate all traces of the war must be stopped, before the history is gone. I have visited the museum several times, and I have enjoyed the displays. perhaps the mayor has never visited the Museum.

  • RichT Feb 11, 2016

    The mayor of harrisburg wants the museum shut down and is looking for any reason he can to do so. History isn’t always pretty and we need reminders of the past so it does not repeat itself.

  • Danny Tarell Feb 11, 2016

    A few of us have been starting to coordinate through a facebook group. We are historians, reenactors, concerned citizens, and at least one of us a former employee.

  • Bluelight57 Feb 11, 2016

    We live in a time when young people barely touch on American history in school. If the Museum of the Civil War can inspire the kids to read and to learn, more power to it. I know that war was about slavery. i also know that slavery is an abhorrent system without virtue. However, the Confederate States of America was a mirror of the United States in most ways. It had universal male suffrage for all Whites 21 and older, just like the USA. It had jury trials, It had an elected President who could serve but one term. It had a Bill of Rights that mirrored the US Constitution. It had habeas corpus. It was a democratic republic with a House of Representatives and a Senate. It had a Supreme Court. It was almost identical to the USA in all its laws. . The difference was that Black slavery was the law of the land. No state could abolish slavery. Well, when I was in school, we studied Athenian democracy as the birth of democracy. However, Athens, like the CSA, was a slave society. The silver of Laurion, the Athenian treasure mountain, made Athens great. Athens worked slaves to death in the mines. We also studied Ancient Rome as a Republic where elected representatives made the law. Well, one out of four people in Rome were slaves. We didn’t spend time criticizing Athens or Rome because they were slave cultures. We were taught to admire them as paragons of civil virtue. I believe that the CSA Battle Flag is an American flag. Americans fought and died for that flag. Southern Americans were not Nazis. They were free and independent people, mostly farmers, who accepted slavery as the norm. 98% of the Confederates owned no slaves, but they had come to believe that it was the natural condition of life. They committed no genocide. They ran no concentration camps. They fought to preserve their rural way of life and failed. Their descendants have a right to admire their forefathers’ valor and courage fighting an army and society far richer and more populous by fourfold than their own. Let us recognize the fact that we are all Americans who share the history and sadness of that terrible struggle. For my generation, the Battle Flag symbolized not slavery or racial hatred, but resistance to central authority abusing power. When S. Vietnam protested, during the Vietnam War, that the flying of Old Glory over fire bases and other US sites was violating South Vietnamese sovereignty, the military hauled down Old Glory for a time. Within five of six weeks, CSA Battle flags were everywhere to be seen, An American protest by the troops to our own political correctness. Everyone knew at that time that the Battle Flag was an AMERICAN flag and that those who flew it were thumbing their noses at (a) the Viets who were willing to let us fight for their independence with the last drop of our blood and (b) the US sauthorities who had agreed to the Viets demands.. . .

  • saybeller Feb 11, 2016

    I fear we are headed for yet another round of historical revisionism. In the 1930s we found the Confederacy romanticized, and the cause of the war to be shrouded in a truth many southerners could swallow, states rights and heritage. Now we have decided to villainize the south; remove memorials made in the name of great Southern generals, dig up the bodies of soldiers and officers to relocate them, and hide away the flag that has come to symbolize the Confederacy. And now a museum, a home of history, is making some sort of dastardly statement by displaying weapons used by men (and women) on the battlefields and in scuffles during that devastating war? It is with a heavy heart I watch these goings on. What will become of our past if we continue to lock the portions of it we don’t like away in the dark?

  • Tyler Durden Feb 11, 2016

    @Kevin Levin: You are very wrong sir. The secession was not caused by slavery. It was caused by inequality of power in Congress, and the North had slaves as well. It wasn’t until Harriet Beatrice Stowe published “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” that slavery became the major issue. If slavery were the issue, Lincoln would’ve have announced the Emancipation Proclamation sooner and not two years into the Civil War. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and currently reside in Florida. The Confederate flag also does not represent racism. That’s like saying the Yankee battle flag represents the genocide of Native Americans.

  • Bubba Grimes Feb 11, 2016

    Edmund Burke once said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

  • Greg Zotta Feb 11, 2016

    Alan Kennedy Shaffer: “the country had made progress recently by taking down Confederate flags, recognizing they can be hurtful.” The American version of ISIS, Al-Qaida and the Taliban are all those FOOLS calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from a Confederate war memorial and everywhere else. The problem is not the Confederate Battle flag or anything to do with the Confederacy. In South Carolina the Confederate Battle flag flies/flew over a Confederate war memorial. The removal of Confederate battle flag from a Confederate war memorial was/is just the beginning. The left are never satisfied. They will continue to do and want more. There will be a call to remove Confederate monuments and statues, the American flag, slave holders monuments and statues like Washington and Jefferson, street names and names of forts for anyone connected to the Confederacy or slavery. And now they have gone so far as to digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers. Since they are intent on trying to remove anything to do with the Confederacy or slavery, thus revising history, which Mark Levin calls a modern day book burning, what happens then? The flag is a symbol that means something different to different people. People should not get offended so easily. America’s legacy is and more importantly should be the country that ended slavery and Jim Crow laws. If whatever it is OFFENDS a person, have that person relate to why it offends them and use it as a teachable moment, instead of destroying it. ISIS, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban are known for destroying artifacts. Let’s not follow in their footsteps.

  • Daryl J. Van Dyne Feb 11, 2016

    How could the people of Harrisburg be so stupid as to elect a Mayor who doesn’t like the history at Gettysburg?! I think this country has lost all common sense!!

  • Joe Lovell Feb 11, 2016

    We all know that in the Civil War federal forces fought no one for four years, inflicted ~700,000 military deaths and possibly as many as 1,000,000 civilian deaths, in order to free the slaves.

    Oh..and they did it without any guns.

  • William Richardson Feb 11, 2016

    Mr. Levin, this is what happens when you and your kind wish to pick and choose history. Whitewashing history to suit ones taste is what has led to this.

  • andy koberg Feb 11, 2016

    I will say that as a history teacher, I find this all very interesting. I do apologize if my grammar is not perfect. I am tired.

    I will say that I believe that the civil war was about southern independence. Jefferson Davis was a slave holder. This is true, but he was an enlightened slave holder that believed that southern independence was equal to abolition, pofessor Brion McClanahan agrees in this regard.

    To speak simply, the civil war was as much about slavery as the revolution was about tea.

    any person who has a computer can look up the CSA’s constitution or their various monologs on independence and they frequently mention or single out slavery.

    It is important to keep in mind that slavery was viewed within the bounds of states rights. States rights lost.

    If the civil war was solely about the perpetuation of slavery, they did a bad job of it. they even offered possible european allies abolition in return for recognition.

    now this may not seem important, but this means that independence was more important than slavery.

    I don’t pretend that slavery was not an issue. my earlier comment was a bit facetious, but it still stands in a way. I do not believe that the war was about slaves.

    I am an ethnic jew, and I sort of look at it like I look at world war 2 (not that I am insinuating that the CSA was Nazi Germany).

    the Holocaust was a parallel event, but the war itself was mainly about other issues

  • Joe Ruedi, Spotyslvania VA Feb 11, 2016

    Thank you Joe Maghe for pointing out the in the Kansas/Missouri area “Terrorist acts” were committed by both sides! Terrorist or hero depends on ones point of view. I tend towards both sides being terrorist in their actions towards non-combatants. I wonder if any weapons displayed were carried by Quantrell’s opponents and how does the mayor feel about their history?
    Having read the above I wish to point out that I’m a Unionist, but I believe fair is fair.
    PC-dom is altogether far too rampant.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 11, 2016

    Bull! Whitewashing history is what led to the commemoration of the confederates who committed treason against the United States of America, and to the lost cause lie that the civil war was not about slavery. Whitewashing history means ignoring the truth about the CBF and the racism, ignorance, and treason it represents.

    Why should people commemorate those who stood against this nation? Why commemorate those who stood for slavery? Why wave a symbol of tyranny, injustice, racism, oppression, and ignorance which is exactly what the Confederate battle flag represents?

  • John James Feb 11, 2016

    Mr. Levin the idea of people trying to erase history and make it PC especially for those offended by the term confederate states of America is ridicules. People know what the confederate battle is, but I’m willing to wager that more than half don’t know what the first national battle flag is, or the bonnie blue are. I commend you for defending the right of the NBA to sponsor the display. Even though you don’t agree what they stand for.
    Also please remember this, Lincoln didn’t make this about freeing slaves at the beginning of the war. He used the term “to preserve the union” it wasn’t until after the union has their first victory did he issue the proclamation. And then, it wasn’t for all the slaves, it for for those states in rebellion. So, if a northern owned slaves. They could keep them. But then again mr. Levin you already know this.

  • TFSmith Feb 11, 2016

    Setting aside a lot of the rhetoric, the situation with the museum and the former mayor and the former state attorney general, this struck me – apparently the museum’s mission statement:

    Welcome! The only museum in The United States that portrays the entire story of the American Civil War. History is preserved in equally balanced presentations that are humanistic in nature without bias to Union or Confederate causes.

    The language suggests – what, exactly? Every other museum in the United States that presents material related to the Civil War is biased, somehow? Or only presents parts of the histort of the Civil War? Or that there’s some sort of “balance” between the history of the “Union and Confederate causes”?

    Just odd…

  • msb Feb 11, 2016

    Dear Kevin,
    The very large number of commenters who are spouting historical nonsense here seems to indicate that public historians (presumably this is what is meant by “your kind”) have their work cut out for them. I hope that the Museum engages productively with the protesters.

    For those of you saying that the Confederate flag is not a symbol of racism, I have seen it used so throughout my life, and I believe the evidence of my eyes, rather than you.

  • Sal Prezioso Feb 12, 2016

    Unfortunately this is a case of Political Correctness run amok. If you want to deny history, the parts you don’t like, you are not being true to future generations and denying their access to the truth. Isn’t a museum the proper place to house and display these types of things? A place where one learns and does research on the past. Some of the past may be ugly and uncomfortable, but to deny it is not the answer. Unfortunately, this is the result of people that have their own agenda regarding the museum.

  • Bill J. Canada Feb 12, 2016

    It seems to me that the best way to ensure that history repeats it’s self is to remove knowledge of it. I have zero use for those that wish to remove flags, symbols, writings thus erasing history. They are no better than book burners, Isis destroying historical sights ETC. The next civil war will also be about slavery it will be about slavery of the mind. Political correctness is just slavery of the mind.

  • papabryant1 Feb 12, 2016

    An “afront to dignity”?

    What is an afront to dignity is that these people have called thousands of people who simply want to recognize their own family’s history and pride in the region they live in bigots while those people were on their knees praying for those suffering in Charleston. It’s the Progressive Left that has no decency.

  • Ferroequus Domain Feb 12, 2016

    Gotta get rid of the liberals and those who would attempt to rewrite history.

  • Louise Brisco Feb 12, 2016

    The Civil War is a major for us {America}. If the mayor and the progressive babies want to decry things why not add the African tribesmen to their list they are the ones captured fellow Africans to SELL them into slavery. If you are going to put down one group might as well go back to the beginning. The other way I see it if it weren’t for the slaves both black and white. The mayor probable would not be in this country, he would be in Africa somewhere. People are to learn from the past, now rut in it like a pig, use it for an excuse to why you will work for a living, be the excuse why you are worthless piece of crap. And believe it or not removing what YOU do not like or erasing and re-writing DOES NOT CHANGE HISTORY. Only morons would believe this. If you do not like America be you pink, purple, green, blue, muslim, hindu, buddist, or what ever you call or consider your self to be you have a choice. LEAVE, you will not be missed by most and the world would be a brighter place without your whining, I deserve, better than thou attitudes.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 12, 2016

      The mayor probable would not be in this country, he would be in Africa somewhere.

      The mayor is white, but please don’t let that get in the way of your analysis. 🙂

  • Donna Feb 12, 2016

    History is just that HISTORY, whether good or bad we study it we learn from it and we go forward. People who dwell on the negative will never move forward. We as a people and a country are here today because of history and this should never be forgotten whether it is the Civil War, World Wars, Vietnam, Korea or any of the wars this country has faced.

  • H.S. Anderson Feb 12, 2016

    I shared this post on my Facebook page, and without exception, my friends are amazed and “flabbergasted” at the mindset of the protesters.

  • Nancy Feb 12, 2016

    My kids graduated high school just a few years ago, and their complaint is that the history they were taught was almost exclusively American history. They wanted more global history, and didn’t get it until they could choose electives in college. They also felt they were taught the same American history material repeatedly throughout K-12.

  • Nancy Feb 12, 2016

    Excuse me, I’m a liberal and have no interest in rewriting history.

  • Nancy Feb 12, 2016


  • Jimmy Dick Feb 12, 2016

    It is not political correctness. It is historical correctness. Erasing confederate history would be terrible. Commemorating confederates is just as terrible. So is flying a CBF without a historical setting. It has no place in modern America except in a museum or historical setting. Confederate history is American history and belongs in the museums because we do not celebrate what the confederacy stood for. In fact, we despise it.

  • Forrest Higgs Feb 12, 2016

    History is always written by victors seeking, too often, to justify their crimes.

  • Andrew Raker Feb 12, 2016

    I think I may have mentioned this on the blog before, but Quantrill’s name was not spoken in Lawrence for many, many years after the massacre. Almost everyone killed that day at the event noted on their grave markers, but his name was not used to avoid giving him credit. By 1895, when a large monument was erected at Oak Hill Cemetery (where most of those killed are buried), his name was used, but of course it wasn’t given a very positive light: “Dedicated to the memory of the one hundred and fifty citizens who defenceless fell victims to the inhuman ferocity of border guerrillas led by the infamous Quantrell (sic)”. So refusing to acknowledge him has a long historical precedent, because those most affected by his actions did not want to give him any credit for his terror. Putting his weapon on display is bound to be seen by some in that light.

  • David Benner Feb 12, 2016

    As the great-great-grand and great-great-great-grand nephew of Capt.’s Jessie and John McNeill of “McNeill’s Rangers” (I have Confederates and Yankees on both sides of the family) I say “what’s the big deal?” Grow up! The “Great War of Northern Aggression”, some rightly call “Lincoln’s War”, is now over 150 years ago! If we craft our lives with what “some” people may or may not like, it will be a sorry life we live. And, no, history is not “always” written by the victors. People losing the argument may use that excuse. Why is it that most often it is “liberals” that are “offended” by so many things around them? If anyone is “offended” by Quantrill, read about Gen. Sheridan’s Yankee troops murdering and doing all kinds of destruction of the Shenandoah Valley, and Gen. Sherman’s scourge of Georgia (I am distantly related to both, by the way, as well as Gen. Grant. And one direct ancestor of mine was with Sherman’s army raping and pillaging and burning their way through Georgia). Read history. learn from it. Form an opinion and grow up!

  • Mc Grath Feb 12, 2016

    The Dred Scott decision opened the way for slavery to be spread to every state in the union. Basically it said a slave owner could take his slaves into a free state keep them there and work them there and they would still be SLAVES. The Republican Party was formed exactly to take over the congress and the presidency, expand the supreme court and pack it with anti-slavery justices and overturn Dred Scott When Lincoln won. the south refused to accept the results of a legal election.

  • Dwight Mac Kerron Feb 12, 2016

    Wayne, You have made it clear what you beleeeve, but not at all clear what you know. I assume that you have rad the Constitutions of all the seceding states and have determined that the slavery piece was really not that important. Hard to believe, actually.

  • John Ferry Feb 12, 2016

    There is a little book entitled “Apostles of Disunion” by Charles B. Dew. It is about the commissioners who were appointed to spread the word among like-minded states to secede from the Union. The documents disseminated were of a “just between us girls” strain, where the smoke screens were removed and the reasons for separation were stated frankly. Read it and YOU tell me why the South seceded.

  • Deborah Williams Feb 12, 2016

    This is stupid. And these people walk among us, they vote, and they breed. God help us!

  • phil hadad Feb 12, 2016

    History must be taught the good and the bad, what we like and what we detest. This must be done so we learn and do not make the same mistakes in our future.The civil war was about slavery and we learned how easily the citizens can be fooled in to thinking they are fighting for the right reasons. It was not Northern money or man power that decided that war. It was the southern soldier when they realized what they were fighting for. they deserted in great numbers.and many southerners never supported the Confederacy in the first place. If you think Money and manpower wins wars. The United states had more money and manpower and won every battle in Viet Nam.and never defeated the Communist. There are so many examples. Britian and the another.

  • Chop Doc Feb 12, 2016

    Actually you are both right. Slavery was central to succession in the fact that the Federal Government wanted to deny new territories the decisions themselves whether they would allow or not allow slavery. But ultimately the Civil War was fought over states rights and not just slavery. The states that did secede already had slavery and it wasnt being taken away so to say the war was just about slavery is wrong to a point, for ultimately it was about state rights.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 12, 2016

      ‘Slavery was central to SECESSION’ and not succession…

  • Phil Bronner Feb 12, 2016

    Actually…the Civil War would not have been fought had the confederates not fired on ft. Sumpter and given Lincoln the excuse he needed to respond militarily….the war, according to his statements was “To Preserve the Union”, not “free the slaves.” Slavery did not become a major issue in the war until 1863, when the union was running out of cannon fodder….started a draft, and then “allowed” blacks to serve in the Union Army. Free blacks in the confederacy (estimates between 63000-90000) were fighting for the confederacy beginning in 1861. The Emancipation proclamation only freed the slaves in the states that had seceded (pretty ballsy of Lincoln to make proclamations over territory he had no control over!) There were 6 northern states that continued to allow slavery throughout the civil war…in fact, the IRS began taxing slave sales in 1862 to help fund the civil war. His proclamation did NOT free those slaves in northern states.
    An interesting fact, since I’m a civil war history buff…is that the ONLY black soldier to fight at Gettysburg, as far as current research can tell, was Charles F. Lutz, who was wounded on the 2nd days fighting on Cemetery Hill and lost an arm as a result. Private Lutz was a member of the 8th Regiment, Louisiana Infantry…a Confederate soldier in a Confederate unit.

  • Phil Bronner Feb 12, 2016

    In re: to Phil Hadad’s view. The North won the war because they had the manpower and the manufacturing power. They succeeded in pretty much blockading the south, which didn’t allow goods to come in from outside….the south was largely an agricultural society, had few natural resources for manufacturing and even fewer facilities for it. the north had Armories….southerners copied rifles, hand making them, or capturing them on the battlefield.
    As to desertions….both sides suffered from desertions. The north, perhaps more so, as they paid a “bounty” to join….soldiers would join, desert, and rejoin, several times over…using different names.
    As was common in those days….the individual states supplied the units fighting the war. Most of the companies that formed the larger state regiments were formed from locations common to the individuals of that company..hence, you were fighting usually with family and friends. Most desertions occurred later in the war, when casualties had decimated most units, and the connections between the individuals in the unit were not as strong.
    It’s a gross oversimplification to say the civil war was fought over slavery…that didn’t really enter into the picture until about the last 2½ years of the war. Loyalty in that period of our history was to the state first…the federal government way down the list… a simple review of the units doing the fighting on both sides would show that.

  • Charles Cox Feb 12, 2016

    That the Civil War (or War Between the States, if you will) occurred is a fact; that the conflict was rooted in states’ rights AND slavery is a fact (if you study the history you’d see how intertwined the two were); that wars are fought with weapons is a fact; how technology, including weapons development, contributed to the conduct of the war and its outcome is a fact; that there was racial prejudice on both sides, before, during and after the war is a fact; that which side won the war determined the direction the country would take afterwards is a fact. Incidentally, the flag everyone is so concerned about was the Confederate battle ensign, not the national colors of the Confederate States — another fact.) In other words, this was a significant historical event which merits study — and that’s a fact, too. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The Civil War was bloody and emotionally rending.Trying to erase the facts, and pretending it wasn’t what it was, in an attempt to create a more politically correct history, takes a special kind of stupid.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 12, 2016

    How about those of you who insist secession was over state’s rights stop talking and start proving your statements? Show me those state rights in the primary source documents from 1860/61. Show me where they said they were seceding over something else other than slavery.

    You won’t be able to do it because they said they were seceding over slavery. The evidence is overwhelming.

  • Neil Hamilton Feb 12, 2016

    And, as it has been shown, the losers write the myths.

  • Rowd Feb 12, 2016

    Mr. Levin, what’s your thoughts on New Orleans removing Civil War monuments?

  • Rowd Feb 12, 2016

    Slavery was the last straw for the Confederacy

    • Walt Stawicki Feb 12, 2016

      oh noi, we must repress all memories so we have no clue the next time it raises its ugly head, remember only those who forget history are free from reliving it…

  • Scott Conklin Feb 12, 2016

    These are not “concerned citizens”. They are historically ignorant partisan hacks partaking in race-baiting to further a hate-driven agenda of historical revisionism and denial of a past they don’t even understand. The only rational response is to ignore them and wait until they are distracted by the next shiny bit of hyper-emotionalism trotted out by their handlers.

    The whining about the NRA is just an extra layer of ridiculous on this nasty cake of hypocrisy and stupidity.

  • DAVID Feb 13, 2016

    Monuments to Lee and other Confederate generals don’t celebrate their politics or social beliefs. They celebrate their military talents.

    Even if this was right, their military talents were used to kill Americans. That’s what we want to celebrate? Next up: a statue of Admiral Yamamoto on the Mall in DC?

    • nickd Feb 13, 2016

      Hey didnt george washintongs war talents kill americans too?

  • honest abe Feb 13, 2016

    Really, the Slaver Rebellion wasn’t about slavery? Funny how the rebels and traitor secessionists of the times howled to high heaven it was PRECISELY about slavery and said so in every speech, resolution, secessionist ordinance, diary, and letter of the time… Read a little history instead of repeating silly lies you were told.

    • Greg Zotta Feb 13, 2016

      “Read a little history instead of repeating silly lies you were told.” What history? If these people have their way everything about the Confederacy would be wiped from history. If that is the case then there was no slavery or Jim Crow laws in this country. Now, are you happy?

  • msmaddog1 Feb 13, 2016

    My concern is for the past and the future. What would people who protest our history replace it with? This is part of our Nation’s History, to put it in a box and hide it away does not make it go away. There are people who would debate we were attacked at Pearl and would remove it from history, the atrocities in Germany were a lie and they would remove that from history. Removing History from displays and books will not make it go away, you cannot replace these actions
    with rainbows and butterflies……learn from it, but don’t hide it.

  • Jack Howard Hayes Feb 13, 2016

    What I think everyone is missing here. The real core issue that should have everyone up in arms. People that support this issue, and those that oppose this issue bloods should boil in both sides. The issue is censorship. History nor anything in a truly free society be censored. How are we going to learn or have any kind of discussion if we censor out anything that might offend someone. Grow up people. It is your responsibility as an American to put on your big boy pants, swallow some pride and live up your Constitution and Bill of Rights. This country is being stolen from you by these very shenanigans going on here. By dividing us into many factions and special interest groups. Fueled by Corporate owned media. Wake up you are getting the shaft.

    • Ray Feb 13, 2016

      Well put brother

  • daves Feb 13, 2016

    a great facility…truly a national treasure….booking group trips there BECAUSE of new display…political correctness out, big boy pants in….to quote the words of recently departed Justice Scalia…”get over it!”

  • Matt McKeon Feb 14, 2016

    I’m coming late to the game, and if I repeat something forgive me.

    Museums are places where history is explored through artifacts. They are different from monuments which are celebrations or memorials. Displaying artifacts associated with Confederates is not endorsing the Confederate cause, while most of the monuments in question are endorsing it.

    At the Massachusetts Historical Society, I had the opportunity to handle a slave’s iron collar, to feel its weight and its texture. It was a brutal, grotesque thing. Its an experience I will never forget, and brings home what slavery meant in a way fifty books couldn’t. That’s what a museum can do.

  • DAVID Feb 14, 2016

    Hey didnt george washintongs war talents kill americans too?

    Since the United States did not exist at that point, no, Washington’s talents did not. You might argue that Loyalist Colonists were the same thing as Americans, but they believed themselves good subjects of the British Crown, and I’ll take them at their word.

  • Brian Feb 14, 2016


    Thank you for your reply to Randy.

    Randy wrote in his post that the monuments “do not” (present tense) celebrate Confederate leaders politics or social beliefs. He was, I believe, speaking of current attitudes towards Confederate military leaders, not, as you replied, the original views of some who built these monuments. So, I believe his statement was correct.

    Do you believe that most people today who want to preserve these monuments are celebrating slavery ?

    I think the great majority of people today admire Lee, Jackson and others for their military accomplishments and in many cases their personal character. I know I do. When are progressives going to understand this ? As long as they continue to tie any celebration of Confederate leaders as a celebration of slavery the divisiveness will continue.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 15, 2016

      Here in a nutshell is my take on Lee and Jackson. Yes, they were talented military leaders, but they fought for a government whose purpose was to protect and expand slavery. All of us should be thankful that they lost.

      • Greg Zotta Feb 15, 2016

        “they fought for a government whose purpose was to protect and expand slavery. All of us should be thankful that they lost.” What does that have to do with removing anything and everything about them? It is HISTORY, yet leftists are mimicking ISIS, Al’Qeada and the Talliban.

        • Kevin Levin Feb 16, 2016


          I was asked a question about Lee and Jackson and I responded. If you are interested in my understanding of Confederate monuments I suggest you read my recent article at the Atlantic.

        • Walt Stawicki Feb 16, 2016

          from my admittedly limited reading it was the border states, the northern side , who were upset by the slave capturers coming in and taking slaves, sometimes molesting northern homes, and never asking permission of the local authorities (sort of like with our sagebrush rebellion and the feds vs the constitutional sherriffs) these actions without an excuse may I were the states rights that were involved. and for which redress was demanded..

  • msb Feb 15, 2016

    “As long as they continue to tie any celebration of Confederate leaders as a celebration of slavery the divisiveness will continue.”

    Brian, please consider that people whose views differ from yours may hold them as sincerely as you do, and that shutting such people up would not change their minds. Division is the symptom, not the cause. (And, while we’re talking, consider that some monuments were explicitly built to celebrate and perpetuate white supremacy.)
    I, for example, cannot separate a warrior from the cause he or she fights for, especially in the case of people who fought in the Civil War, who studies have shown were pretty clear about their motives. If all that mattered was Lee’s courage and skill, he could have exercised them as general of the Union army. He was offered the job. Instead, he chose to break his oath to the United States and lead armies for the purpose of founding a nation based on slavery, including such activities as kidnapping free blacks and sending them south for sale until Gettysburg stopped him.
    When different parts of the public hold diverging views about public monuments, the question is what all or the majority of the the public wants done about them. Many of Kevin’s posts have discussed a variety of options. I favor signage that gives background and context. Some of the groups affected, such as the congregation of St Paul’s church in Richmond and the city government of New Orleans, however, have chosen to remove monuments, usually to museums. I have no argument to counter their statements that this both preserves the monuments for historical study and makes public spaces more useful and welcoming to the communities that use them.

  • Matthew Messerly Feb 16, 2016

    Black confederates again?

  • Erick Hare Feb 17, 2016

    Sorry for being a bit late to comment on this, but here goes…

    First of all both sides of this debate need to stop stereotyping and generalizing the views of extreme perspectives on this debate.

    I’ve been called a liberal hypnotized by President Obama into believing the “lies” of the Black Lives Matter movement. I really don’t appreciate that.

    The actual truth is I’m a conservative who never voted for Obama and I have a replica of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia hanging in my bedroom because I’m a really passionate about studying the Civil War and it’s a reminder of just how far we’ve come since then, and there’s a ways to go still to really understand all the Civil War was truly about.

    I believe it is completely inappropriate for a flag of an unsuccessful rebellion against the United States and the Constitution to be displayed/flown on public, government property. I also believe that none of our Confederate iconography should be “erased” and generally is being handled properly by being placed in museums for the public to view with appropriate historical context presented with them. Not only about the individuals/events presented, but those who chose to memorialize them as well and everything they stood for.

    In this instance with the NRA-sponsored exhibit I think is an overreaction and manipulation of the current national dialogue we’ve had throughout the country since the shooting in Charleston last summer. To force the removal of the weapons used in the war from museums is to deny the public conscience the ability to see what was truly at stake in the bloodiest war in US history. Upwards of 750,000-1,000,000 people died defining what freedom, liberty and our government truly were and to not show that reality to the public is a travesty. (Sorry I’m not exactly sure the latest estimates in terms of what casualties were in the war the last I heard was somewhere in the range I mentioned).

    I think a place to start would be to look at how our country has memorialized the Holocaust in museums in Washington DC, and Los Angeles. All the iconography and symbols and images are presented for full display and impact in those museums, and presented in appropriate historical context. None of it is paraded around other than your occasional neo-Nazi marches and gatherings, and I don’t see the same uproar in the Jewish community calling for those museums to not show the atrocities of the Holocaust either.

    I’m not sure what a good final resolution or middle ground there is to be had in this discussion clearly it’s going to take a while if not ever be fully resolved, but I think looking at how the Holocaust has been memorialized appropriately in our country would be a good place to start.

    • Greg Zotta Feb 18, 2016

      The American version of ISIS, Al-Qaida and the Taliban are all those FOOLS calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from a Confederate war memorial and everywhere else. The problem is not the Confederate Battle flag or anything to do with the Confederacy. In South Carolina the Confederate Battle flag flies/flew over a Confederate war memorial. The removal of Confederate battle flag from a Confederate war memorial was/is just the beginning. The left are never satisfied. They will continue to do and want more. There will be a call to remove Confederate monuments and statues, the American flag, slave holders monuments and statues like Washington and Jefferson, street names and names of forts for anyone connected to the Confederacy or slavery. And now they have gone so far as to digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers. Since they are intent on trying to remove anything to do with the Confederacy or slavery, thus revising history, which Mark Levin calls a modern day book burning, what happens then? The flag is a symbol that means something different to different people. People should not get offended so easily. America’s legacy is and more importantly should be the country that ended slavery and Jim Crow laws. If whatever it is OFFENDS a person, have that person relate to why it offends them and use it as a teachable moment, instead of destroying it. ISIS, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban are known for destroying artifacts. Let’s not follow in their footsteps.

  • Erick Hare Feb 19, 2016

    The problem I have with your analysis is it’s inflammatory and goes well beyond what is actually being called for in the dialogue about the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (it’s not the Confederate Battle Flag as you would call it, as many people have corrected thoroughly in this national discussion.

    The actions by extremists in the Middle East, and Afghanistan are to destroy history. All that’s being called for here in the United States is that historical monuments (even if skewed to an extreme degree) be moved from public spaces into museums where they can be better preserved and presented in a correct historical context. In my original post here I didn’t call to erase, or destroy anything, just stated my opinion that memorials and iconography be displayed appropriately with correct historical context presented about them. That’s not an extremist perspective calling for anything to be erased.

    • Greg Zotta Feb 19, 2016

      I know what you would like to have happen , but that is not what the leftists want. as i stated, the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from a Confederate memorial is just the beginning. Their goal is to wipe out history. None of these things need to be removed. They mean something to other people. If someone does not like it, do not look at it. DemonRATS in Missouri had the flags removed from a Confederate cemetery. So don’t tell me these RATS do not want to wipe out history.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 19, 2016

    The problem, Erick, is that most confederate heritage types really do not care about the history involved with the flag or the confederacy. They just want to use the symbol to express their modern political ideologies. They disrespect the flag in the process, but you can’t convince them of that. What I really love in this discussion is how they are going on and on about whitewashing history, but how does moving the flag and monuments to museums white wash history?

    No, what they really want to do is keep those symbols of racism up in public for the exact same reasons they were erected and created in the first place. If those symbols are removed to museums, then that means their ancestors’ actions were failures. Well, they were failures. The confederacy failed. Segregation failed. White Supremacy is failing. Racism is slowly dying but they don’t want it to go.

    Then they blather on about the soldier’s flag and mutilate history to suit their ideology. What an utter travesty. They demonstrate their cognitive dissonance all the time because they won’t even accept the truth about why the civil war was fought. They even complain about the museums because the interpretations do not square with the lies of the lost cause. That’s how ignorant they are.

    • Greg Zotta Feb 19, 2016

      Are you aware their are leftists calling for removal of the American flag, the Stars and Stripes. So, don’t tell me these fools calling for the removal of everything concerning the Confederacy from sight do not want it removed from HISTORY, like ISIS, AlQ’eada and the Talliban.

      • Walt Stawicki Feb 20, 2016

        Are there leftists doing so or rightist saying so? I’ll believe it if you have credible documentation. real card carrying americans, not the fringe that we detest as much as the rest do.

  • Erick Hare Feb 20, 2016

    I’m one saying that it’s more appropriate to display Confederate memorials and iconography in a place where history can be best preserved (aka a museum). I’m not calling for anything to be destroyed or erased, and the majority of people in this discussion aren’t either, from what I’ve seen. ISIS, and the Taliban aren’t moving objects to museums to better preserve them they are utterly destroying actual historical landmarks not memorials.

    You’re equating memorials honoring history being moved to museums to be preserved to extremists destroying actual historical landmarks and artifacts. That’s a massive leap of logic to say the least.

    In this instance I agree with you, the protesters went way too far by trying to tie their hatred of groups like the NRA to the discussion about Civil War memory we’ve had nationally since last summer. They aren’t the same thing. If they simply took the time to go to the museum to see what’s presented they would see the only issue they have with the museum is they would allow the NRA to sponsor an exhibit there. Nothing more.

    • Greg Zotta Feb 20, 2016

      The solution is to leave the statues flags and memorials etc where they are at. The DemonRATS had the Confederate Battle flag REMOVED from a Confederate cemetery. The opponents of the Confederate flag do not take into account of the feelings of those that support the flag because of their heritage and want to display it. Isn’t it discriminatory when the views of supporters of the flag are not taken into account? Supporters of the Confederate flag like the Sons and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers who view it as a battle flag and symbol of pride of their Southern heritage and freedom from the oppression of the Northern government. If you do not like the flag, do not get one or do not look at it, but do not try to force your agenda or opinion on those who support the flag.

      • Kevin Levin Feb 21, 2016

        If you do not like the flag, do not get one or do not look at it, but do not try to force your agenda or opinion on those who support the flag.

        Whether you like it or not, every citizen has the right to voice their views on the display of the Confederate flag in public places.

        • Greg Zotta Feb 21, 2016

          They do have a right to voice their opinions, but it does not mean they should get their way. Again, these monuments, relics and flags are a part of HISTORY, whether some people like it or not. If you do not like looking at the flag or monument SHUT your eyes and walk on by.

          • Kevin Levin Feb 22, 2016

            They do have a right to voice their opinions, but it does not mean they should get their way.

            No, it doesn’t, but if enough people voice their concerns and petition elected leaders than they likely will get their way. It’s called democracy.

            • Greg Zotta Feb 22, 2016

              That is called MOB rule, not a representative government.

              • Kevin Levin Feb 22, 2016

                With all due respect, such a comment suggests that you don’t intend to be taken seriously. The decisions to remove Confederate flags and/or Confederate monuments in public spaces have been made by elected officials.

  • Erick Hare Feb 20, 2016

    Greg you’re referring to an extremely small vocal minority in the overall discussion, I take issue with being stereotyped with extremists when I’m simply expressing a measured, and fairly reasonable solution to the issues in this discussion.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 22, 2016

    It is both history and commemoration. One can enjoy history in a museum. However, to put up statues and monuments to men who were traitors to the USA for the purpose of celebrating both an insurrection against the lawful government (elected in accordance with the US Constitution) and white supremacy is immoral. Put those things in a museum so people can learn about the context behind the statues and monuments. Leaving in the public view with no explanation behind them is to give the reasons behind the erection of the monuments legitimacy.

    This is the USA, not the CSA. The CSA failed. It was wrong. It was put down. It is something to be studied in a history class or a museum. The reasons for the establishment of the CSA have been repudiated by the people of the USA. Why have statues and monuments to something that was a rejection of the Constitution and the very principles it stands for?

  • Erick Hare Feb 22, 2016

    Now that’s just rich. You’re accusing a vocal group of people who do not want to honor the memorials built by people in the Jim Crow South, many of whom supported if not actually participated in actual lynch mob and mob rule in the Jim Crow South of being a “mob”.

    As far as I can tell this latest saga in the national discussion about the memory of the Civil War is far from the actual mobs that terrorized blacks in the Jim Crow South, and you know why they were commemorating Confederate history? Because the Confederacy was the epitome of what they stood for as white supremacists and racists. But you don’t want to look at actual historical facts so I’m pretty much done with this part of the conversation.

    The reason why there’s such a furor in the current national discussion is because many people are fed up with being force fed the Lost Cause mythology that was debunked by the people of the South during the Civil War who actually knew they were fighting to preserve slavery and institutionalize white supremacy.

    • Brian Feb 22, 2016

      Talk about rich Erick. I support Confederate monuments, not because I am a white supremacist, as you suggest, but because my ancestors fought for political independence and economic independence from people with preducided views like yourself. Yes, slavery was a part of the reason they fought but only because it was integral to their economic and societal way if life in a way that it was not in the North. So it is rich of you to judge all Southeners as racists when they were protecting their very existence. Very rich to do from your 21st century sofa. Your politically correct views of you and many on this site show your lack of understanding of the Southern view at the time of the war and I reject it completely. The South was no less racist than the North, they just had more invested in the abomination of slavery. I am proud the men Lee, Jackson and Davis were and will fight for their remembrances as long as I live. So, rather than brand Southerners as racists maybe you should broaden your life historical horizons and realize we are a good people who want to preserve what was honorable and noble of the Confederacy instead of demeaning us and our motives.

  • Erick Hare Feb 23, 2016

    When did I say anything about anyone in the current discussion here? The only individuals I’ve commented about are Confederate leaders (i.e. Robert E. Lee) and individuals who funded and built monuments to the Confederacy back in the Jim Crow South in the earlier part of the 20th Century. I don’t really see why people want to continue to revere such sordid history, and I’m not calling for anything to be erased or destroyed simply preserved and displayed in a more appropriate setting.

    This comment you’re responding to was pointing out how an earlier comment was equating the current discussion and actions of elected officials to what people in the Jim Crow South did to terrorize African Americans at the time in the Jim Crow South. For you to extrapolate from my comments about history to take it as a personal affront is just way too much of an illogical assumption.

  • llbilyeu Feb 29, 2016

    Obviously an emotional issue throughout. But, we need to read the Confederate Vice president’s speech after election. He was asked to make the speech instead of Davis. He was quite clear the main issue was slavery. Although there were many other issues, the message was quite clear. However we believe the causes and curses of the civil war, the museum showing the artifacts of the participants is hardly cause for protest. My own historical character which I do for schools is a Civil War Surgeon with displays from both sides. But, I have several bullets and pistols from the conflict to show how the wounds were so terrible. Whenever I get to the guns the kids eyes light up and the questions flow. I think if interesting guns get the kids interested in history, then they have a place in the museum. Wake up America!

  • Jack Gately Apr 25, 2016

    Should we therefore remove all Nazi artifacts that are part of the Holocaust Memorial? This makes no sense whatsoever. Displaying Quantrill’s firearm or other artifacts of the Confederacy does not endorse slavery any more than displaying artifacts from the Axis powers endorses planned genocide by the Nazis in Europe or the Japanese in China. However, it does make for a lively discussion and the protesters’ actions demonstrate that the First Amendment is still alive and well in the United States.

  • Tory Apr 25, 2016

    As a girl growing up in Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s I loved my family’s few vacation trips through the southern states on the way to see Florida relatives.. Every chance we got we stopped at roadside historical monuments, battlefields and any museums dedicated to the Civil War. I even remember my Dad “lobstering” his head after a very short haircut just before visiting a re-enactment of the Battle of Bull Run and heat over 104 degrees in the shade! These trips made me particularly receptive to the educational leadership of a great high school American History teacher – at my 90% black high school. Other classmates “could have cared less” about those topics that I’d been fortunate enough to experience almost “firsthand”. So many students to whom such history should have been an important part of their identity just didn’t care. I believe that without the real reminders of the past in a balanced presentation, mythologies of the “truth” become as if real. (Especially if there has been an unbalanced popular movie presentation of an event!) Regardless of what your opinion is on the “real” cause of the Civil War, or any other historical event, our country and culture becomes less strong when we’re all in “ignorance” because the museums and libraries become defunded and the “acceptable” text books are written by very biased authors pushing one political agenda or another. Slavery or even “just” racism, past and present, is personally obnoxious to me, but I couldn’t know that without learning about the extremes of the past and the history about how and why people have come to the present. There’s the old adage “those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Folks, let’s preserve historical information in a publicly accessible manner and then communicate with each other enough to not go there.

  • Gundog Apr 25, 2016

    Has the world gone mad? We are talking about history (as in the past). There are a lot of things that happened a long time ago that were not necessarily good. But it is not condoning it by looking back to review what we did and see how how we can avoid it in the future. Good Lord – get over it!

  • Ann Apr 26, 2016

    It’s history display it! It happened learned from it! Display things the way they happened how else are the youth going to learn about it from the movies! People are sensitive about everything anymore suck it up and act like adult!

  • Merry Feb 12, 2017

    The civil war is a part of our history and I believe that you can not change history by ignoring it. Otherwise you are bound to repeat it. It is very strange to me that so many use our history to get others riled up. I would like to thank you for taking the time to display and try to educate people about that part of our history. God bless you and keep you

    • Kevin Levin Feb 12, 2017

      Hi Merry,

      Thanks for reading for leaving a comment:

      It is very strange to me that so many use our history to get others riled up.

      I think it’s important to remember that no one person or group owns or has an exclusive right to any part of history. It is always open to interpretation as is the question of how it ought to be remembered and commemorated.

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