A good friend of mine who is a historian with the National Park Service offered this observation the other day:
The present debate over Confederate iconography will, over time, fundamentally alter the place battlefields hold in America’s historic and cultural landscapes.
He’s absolutely right. [click to continue…]
I finally got around to watching The Daily Show’s recent segment on the Confederate monument debate. I particularly appreciate the suggestions from Trevor Noah and Roy Wood, Jr. on ways to add to public landscapes that include Confederate monuments rather than removing or relocating them. [click to continue…]
First, thanks to all of you who have commented on the recent guest post in favor of maintaining Confederate monuments. A number of you have expressed concern about my decision to allow my guest to post anonymously. I understand your concerns and I am re-thinking my policy. For now I want to share a few thoughts in response to the content of the post.
I could not disagree more with the overall thrust of this piece. The author appears to be unaware of the underlying fact that the vast majority of these monuments were erected during the Jim Crow-era–a point at which African Americans were legally barred from taking part in public discussions (that involved their tax dollars) about how their community’s past would remember the Civil War. Many of the soldier monuments that the author fondly recalls were dedicated on court house grounds that regardless of their intent would have sent a specific messages to different segments of the community. [click to continue…]
For those of you looking for resources surrounding the recent events in Charlottesville and the broader Confederate monument debate, I highly recommend this lesson plan from The Choices Program. It offers an overview of what happened in Charlottesville on August 12, but also does an excellent job of focusing on the broader issues surrounding the Robert E. Lee monument and Civil War memory. [click to continue…]
UPDATE: A number of people have expressed frustration over my decision to publish an anonymous guest post. I understand the concerns expressed and will re-think my policy. At the same time there is a vibrant and productive discussion in the comments section of the post. People are engaging with the argument and that is what I intended. You can read my response here.
What follows is a guest post authored by a experienced instructor in professional military education, who wishes to remain anonymous. Publication of this piece should not be interpreted as constituting agreement with its content.
My thoughts on removing Confederate monuments, of any type, boil down to two major arguments with several subpoints. As a caveat, I am not commenting on the recent violence, the President’s comments, or in any way supporting the alt-right political extremism (which is antithetical to the American creed). My arguments below are rooted in what I call “common sense historicity.” [click to continue…]
Update: I decided to re-work my crowdsourcing project around New Orleans and the Confederate monument debate to something that better reflects the turn that the focus has taken in the wake of Charlottesville. It is intended to assist high school and college level students and teachers and anyone else who is interested in digging into the history and memory of this debate. You can find it here.
Stephen Berry and Angela E. Elder, eds. Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence of Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln (University Press of Georgia, 2017).
Eric Foner, Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History (I.B. Taurus, 2017).
Barbara Gannon, Americans Remember Their Civil War (Praeger, 2017).
Earl J. Hess, The Battle of Peach Tree Creek: Hood’s First Effort to Save Atlanta (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).
Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr., 1865 Alabama: From Civil War to Uncivil Peace (University of Alabama Press, 2017).
Dell Upton, What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South (Yale University Press, 2015).
One of the most common questions that I received from reporters this past two weeks was why so many Confederate monuments were dedicated within such a short period of time (1890-1930). It’s a complex question and there is no simple answer when you dive into the history of these monuments, but at some point you will come across the issue of race and white supremacy. [click to continue…]
The last two weeks have been a blur. The public discussion about the fate of Confederate monuments continues with no end in sight, fueled in part by the president’s own fears that “our culture” and “our history” runs the risk of being erased. I anticipated having to talk with a couple of reporters, but never anticipated just how much time would be spent helping others try to make sense of the impact of Charlottesville even as I worked to put the pieces together. [click to continue…]