Libertarians and the Confederacy

We are all familiar with the libertarian perspective on the Civil War that views Lincoln as a tyrant and the Confederacy as the last bastion of limited government. It’s a strange cast of characters, including Thomas DiLorenzo and Walter Williams, both of who go out of their way to paint the Confederacy in the best light by minimizing the importance of slavery to secession and overlooking its own march toward a centralized state. Their limited understanding of historical scholarship comes through loud and clear in their books and/or Op-eds. In recent years there seems to be a realignment among those on the right regarding Lincoln and the war from folks like Glenn Beck to National Review editor, Rich Lowry, who recently published a new book on Lincoln

In this video Jason Kuznicki of the Cato Institute asks his fellow libertarians to reconsider their support of the Confederacy. Let’s ignore for a moment just how bizarre it is to be even talking about supporting the Confederacy 150 years later. I am less concerned with sound historical interpretation than I am with the fact that the Cato Institute believes there is a need for such a video. What do you make of it?

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The Face of Public History (Part 2)

Chickamauga Visitor Center

This past week I was reminded of just how upsetting it can be for African American to have to confront the Confederate flag when visiting a Civil War site. I don’t care how many H.K. Edgertons and Karen Coopers you embrace, in the end, many blacks feel alienated and/or unwelcome when visiting these sites. There should be no doubt about why this is the case given the history of the Confederate flag. [click to continue…]

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Did Confederate Veterans Hate Confederate Heritage?

South Carolina Monument at ChickamaugaLooks like I missed a great deal of Virginia Flagger silliness while away on my Civil War road trip. The group of teachers I was with heard about their plans to place a large Confederate flag on I-95 to welcome people to Richmond (and here). I used the media attention to highlight the dynamics of Civil War memory while leading the group down Monument Avenue.

A few of the teachers immediately interpreted this story as evidence of a strong reactionary element in the South that will never move beyond the Lost Cause. I stressed that, if anything, these people represent a relatively small segment of the population. In the end, this is little more than a rear guard action or a reflection of just how marginalized these people have become in a city that has made great strides on the racial and Civil War memory fronts in recent years. [click to continue…]

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Civil War Memory in4

While I was in Gettysburg this past June for the CWI I took a few minutes to record a Civil War Trust Civil War in4 video with Garry Adelman on Civil War memory. I was way over-prepared and incredibly nervous. Let’s just say that I found it very difficult to whittle down this vast subject into a four minute segment, but somehow the editors managed to create some level of coherence out of the full recording.

Thanks so much to Garry for giving me my shot at stardom. I hope this serves as a useful introduction for teachers who are looking to introduce the subject to their middle school and high school classrooms. Finally, you need not worry as I promise not to quite my day job.

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Heading Home

Sitting here at BWI airport waiting for my flight home to Boston and thinking about the last ten days on the road with roughy forty teachers. I am both exhausted and overwhelmed by the sites I saw, but especially by the experiences I shared with these remarkable people. It was truly an honor for me to serve as the group’s historian and guide.

I am humbled by their passion and commitment to the teaching profession. Many of these teachers work under very challenging conditions that I have no context with which to understand. During our final debriefing last night I listened as teachers talked enthusiastically about the teaching resources picked up during the trip and preliminary ideas about how they hope to integrate their experiences into their classrooms. [click to continue…]

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