Interview With Historian Walter Johnson

Harvard University Press sent along a review copy of Walter Johnson’s River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom even before its publication, but I have yet to make much headway. It’s a beast of a book. Here is an interview that Johnson did with Deirdre Cooper Owens from the University of Mississippi.

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Virginia Flaggers To Fly Historically Inaccurate Flag

Update: The more I think about it, the more I agree with a commenter below that on this particular issue I am splitting hairs. Perhaps I’ve allowed my disgust for this project to get the better of me. Take a listen to NPS Ranger, Christopher Young, who just finished commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle of Chickamauga. He has the right idea when it comes to remembering and commemorating our Civil War soldiers. Finally, let me be clear that I am not offended by the sight of this flag. What I find offensive is how it is manipulated and abused by these people.

Next weekend the Virginia Flaggers will unveil their Confederate battle flag somewhere along I-95 in Chesterfield County, near Richmond. This week they unveiled their new flag on the steps of the Virginia capital. It appears they went with something that resembles the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. I say resembles because if you look closely something is very, very wrong.

Virginia FlaggersIf you look closely you will notice that the stars are not spaced properly. [click to continue…]

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Award For Excellence in Public History

Recently I agreed to chair the committee for the 2014 Award for Excellence in Public History sponsored by The Society of Civil War Historians.

The Society of Civil War Historians solicits nominations for the $5000 Award for Excellence in Public History. Funded by the Blue and Gray Education Society, the award will recognize an outstanding public history project completed and made available to the public in 2012 or 2013 that enhances public awareness and understanding of the Civil War era, including the events leading to the war and its direct consequences.

We are looking for:

  • public exhibitions
  • media productions (including internet-based projects)
  • public programs, events, and tourism initiatives
  • preservation projects that include the interpretation of objects, documents, structures, or landscapes

Additional information can be found at the SCWH website. Please pass this along to anyone who might be interested. Thank you.

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Louis CK Brings Lincoln To SNL

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Recognition For William Mahone

mahoneYesterday’s post about the unveiling of three plaques honoring Virginia’s post-Civil War black politicians has me thinking about my old buddy, William Mahone. While Mahone is best remembered as the “Hero of the Crater” his role in launching and leading the state’s most successful third-party political movement has largely been forgotten. In Virginia it was intentionally ignored because what came to be known as the Readjuster Party (1879-83) was bi-racial. The arc from Mahone’s role in preventing a Union breakthrough outside Petersburg that left scores of black Union soldiers massacred on the Crater battlefield to creating an opportunity for the largest number of black Virginians to vote, go to school and serve in positions of local and state government just a few short years later could not be more striking. Could anyone in 1865 anticipate that it would be a former Confederate general who would bring Reconstruction to Virginia?

Is it time to recognize William Mahone publicly in some shape or form? I say yes, if for no other reason than it would help to bring into sharper focus a piece of Virginia’s history that places yesterday’s dedication in its proper context. In other words, post-Civil War Virginia makes absolutely no sense without a reference to Mahone and the Readjuster Party.  It matters, not simply because it’s part of Virginia’s history, but because it has something important to teach us as well. The period following the official years of Reconstruction (1865-1877) did not inevitably lead to Jim Crow. Interracial cooperation was not only possible in the South between 1877 and the turn of the twentieth century but a reality for a few short years in Virginia. Virginia’s Reconstruction was not forced on it by “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags” but by legitimate stakeholders, who believed that a brighter future could be forged for both races. Finally, there is something juicy about all of this being introduced by a former Confederate general. [click to continue…]

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