In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 comparisons were routinely made with the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Such comparisons were made to place the scale of human loss in perspective as well as the surprise-nature of the attack itself. Both were acts of war. One of the victims on 2001 was my cousin, Alisha Levin. [click to continue…]
Many of you will remember the short video that West Point Professor of History Ty Seidule did on the cause of the Civil War. It went viral and catapulted the professor to Internet sensation. The video’s popularity did not stem simply from Professor Seidule’s identification of slavery at the central cause of the war. It had more to do with his association with West Point and the military that caught some people off guard. Professor Seidule’s interpretation could not be dismissed as just another liberal/revisionist academic rant. [click to continue…]
I planned to spend most of today writing, but the weather is so nice here in Gettysburg that I decided to spend a couple of hours on the battlefield. I spent most of my time along Confederate Avenue. [click to continue…]
Last night I was invited to join Brown Advisory at the Spangler Farm on the Gettysburg battlefield to talk about the Confederate monument debate. We started out with a quick tour of a couple of key sites on the battlefield followed by dinner and conversation. It was an incredibly enjoyable evening. Great food and even better questions from the audience. I applaud Brown for their interest in engaging their employees about some of the most pressing issues of the day. [click to continue…]
Last year I joined the board of directors of the National Council for History Education. My first exposure to the organization and its members was the annual meeting that took place in Atlanta, Georgia. It has been a couple of years since I last attended an academic conference, but this one was right up my alley. NCHE brings together serious historians, public historians, and educators from all different levels and backgrounds. The emphasis, not surprisingly, is on education. The conference is free of the stuffiness and posturing that you find at many academic gatherings. [click to continue…]
Today is the official release date for my new book, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites with Rowman & Littlefield Press. This is a collection of essays authored by public historians and educators working at various sites on how their institutions approached interpreting the Civil War during the sesquicentennial. A good deal of work went into this volume and I couldn’t be more pleased to finally see it in print. [click to continue…]
Republican House Speaker Joe Straus is calling for the removal of this marker, which was installed by the Texas Division, Children of the Confederacy, in the state Capitol in 1959, on the eve of the centennial. It makes a pretty bold claim about the role of slavery in causing secession and war.
Texas is no stranger to controversies about how history is taught and efforts to shape history textbooks to fit the political agendas of various school boards. In this case all one has to do is look to the states own Declaration of Causes, which propelled the state to leave the union in February 1861. This link will take you to the Texas State Archives and Commission website [a .gov site]. Here is a taste:
For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States.
By consolidating their strength, they have placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights against their exactions and encroachments.
They have proclaimed, and at the ballot box sustained, the revolutionary doctrine that there is a “higher law” than the constitution and laws of our Federal Union, and virtually that they will disregard their oaths and trample upon our rights.
They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.
They have invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens, and through the press their leading men and a fanatical pulpit have bestowed praise upon the actors and assassins in these crimes, while the governors of several of their States have refused to deliver parties implicated and indicted for participation in such offences, upon the legal demands of the States aggrieved.
They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides.
They have sent hired emissaries among us to burn our towns and distribute arms and poison to our slaves for the same purpose.
They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.
They have refused to vote appropriations for protecting Texas against ruthless savages, for the sole reason that she is a slave-holding State.
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.
This is a good day for Texas and American history. I am just grateful that Straus did not propose changing references to slavery to “workers.”
Update: The official release date for my new book, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, (Rowman &Littlefield) is this week. Stay tuned.
Karen L. Cox, Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).
[Note: Finished this book in three sittings. Highly recommend it.]
Earl J. Hess, Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transportation (Louisiana State University Press, 2017).
Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson, Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (University of Tennessee Press, 2003).
Wesley Moody, Seven Myths of the Civil War (Hackett Publishing, 2017).
Richard White, The Republic For Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford University Press, 2017).