Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future of Confederate Monuments

The recent removal of two Confederate monuments in Memphis, Tennessee suggests that this recent wave has yet to crest. We will likely see additional removals in 2018. As for specifics, it is difficult to say. I suspect that we have not heard the last from Charlottesville. Maintaining the Lee and Jackson monuments underneath a black tarp indefinitely is not a long-term solution. Richmond is a complete mystery to me. [click to continue…]

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Uncivil Explores Black Confederate Myth

I have to admit to being slow in fully embracing the new world of podcasts. It’s only been in the last year that I have learned to appreciate this particular format. One of my favorite new podcasts is Uncivil, which explores different aspects of Civil War memory and other unusual or obscure narratives from the period. The hosts are quite entertaining and the guests are always thoughtful.

Last month I helped out with a new episode, titled “The Portrait,” on the black Confederate myth. Only a few minutes were used from our hour-long interview, but much of it was integrated into the overall narrative. The episode focuses on a former member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who was once seduced by this narrative and Myra Chandler Sampson, a descendant of Silas Chandler. The episode is not yet listed on their webpage, but you can click through in the “subscribe” section and listen on Spotify, iTunes, and the other providers listed.

The producers did an excellent job overall and I thank them for the opportunity to participate.

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Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument Vandalized or Beautified?

This has been a pretty bad two weeks for Nathan Bedford Forrest monuments. Just days after the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest monument in Memphis, Tennessee another monument erected in his honor has been vandalized. The Forrest monument along I-65, just south of Nashville, was designed by Jack Kershaw, a co-founder of the League of the South and dedicated in 1998.

Kershaw’s monument stands out as one of the most hideous and even comical Confederate monuments ever erected. I am not sure if the pink paint ought to be seen as an act of vandalism or beautification.

The current owner of the property has no plans to remove the paint.

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Captain Robert Gould Shaw, 2nd Mass: A Reading List

I’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks reading as much as I can about Robert Gould Shaw and taking extensive notes. In addition to books about the Civil War I have been thinking about how to go about writing and structuring a biography, which I have never written before. Historian and biographer T.J. Stiles recently shared some thoughts with me about the genre. I am a big fan of his books, particularly his biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. [click to continue…]

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The Year Confederate Monuments Came Down

There is no other way to spin what happened this past year as anything other than a complete rejection of the Lost Cause and the belief that Confederate military and political leaders deserve to be honored in our public spaces. The removal of monuments and markers took place across the nation in cities and towns large and small. Confederate heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and even the president of the United States were unable to stem the tide. Here is a recap.
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Monument to Slave Trader, Confederate General, and Klan Leader Removed

Last night the city of Memphis removed monuments to Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. In Forrest’s words, they ‘kept the skeer’ on them and it finally paid off. In 2013 I wrote this piece on the controversy surrounding the Forrest monument for the Atlantic. [click to continue…]

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My Next Book Project

After weighing a number of things I have decided to write about the history and memory of Robert Gould Shaw for my next book project. It is a project that will look closely at two very different individuals.

Additional questions? Feel free to fire away in the comments section below.

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New to the Civil War Memory Library, 12/13

Charles W. Calhoun, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant (University Press of Kansas, 2017).

Lorien Foote, Seeking One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw & Nineteenth-Century Reform (Ohio University Press, 2003).

Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (Liveright, 2017).

Cynthia Nicoletti, Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Alice E. Malavasic, The F Street Mess: How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Joan Waugh, Unsentimenal Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell (Harvard University Press, 1998).

Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Graywolf Press, 2017).

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