Civil War Memory 101 (Week 7)

This discussion will take place on Twitter on Sunday, May 10 at 8pm. #CWM101

This week we will discuss chapter 7 in Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation. This chapter explores the ways in which white and black Americans understood the legacy of slavery and emancipation by the end of the nineteenth century. According to Janney, contrary to what historians such as David Blight have argued, memory of emancipation and slavery remained central to how Americans remembered the war. In fact, reconciliation remained incomplete, in part, because of the competing ways in which black and white Americans understood the emancipationist legacy of the war.

Reading Questions

  • How does Janney counter the claim made by historians that reconciliation was accomplished as a result of an intentional forgetting of race and emancipation by white northerners?
  • What explains, according to Janney, why references to slavery and emancipation increased among northern veterans during the latter part of the nineteenth century?
  • Were former Confederates unified around a Lost Cause narrative that denied slavery’s central place in the war?
  • How did the image of the faithful slave reinforce the Lost Cause narrative and counter northern claims of moral superiority?
  • Why did some white northerners embrace the faithful slave narrative?
  • What features of Emancipation Day celebrations transcended North and South? How and why did they differ, according to Janney?
  • How did the Grand National Celebration of Freedom in 1890 in Richmond, Virginia reflect the black embrace of the memory of emancipation?
  • In what ways was Booker T. Washington’s address at the dedication of the Shaw Memorial in Boston a reflection of the emancipationist, Union, and reconciliationist narratives of the war?
  • Why did white southerners feel their Lost Cause had been vindicated as a result of victory in the Spanish-American War?

Further Reading

Primary Sources

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