Over the past few weeks I’ve taken a front seat to an interesting debate between Eric Jacobson and the members of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group. Eric is the historian and chief operating officer for The Battle of Franklin Trust. His organization has taken the lead in working to educate the general public on the importance of preserving our Civil War heritage. This debate or conversation is instructive for those of us interested in how various individuals and groups attempt to come to terms with this crucial and divisive moment in American history. In short, consider this an exercise in a not so peaceful tango between heritage and history.
Funny enough, Eric’s first post comes in a thread that started in response to a question that was posed to me by Jimmy Shirley, who asked about why many northerners were unwilling to allow the southern states to go in peace. I thought it was a reasonable question, but as in so many cases I simply did not have the time to go into detail with my response so I suggested he check out Russell McClintock’s, Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession, which is the single best study on the subject. That apparently wasn’t satisfactory which led to a post on the SHPG board. Eric attempted to offer some help, but it wasn’t long before he was challenged with some of the standard responses offered to folks who do not fall in line. One of the officers insulted Eric with the following: “Eric A Jacobson….just another Levin Tool…. Still, this one might be worth keeping around for a bit, it does seem to be a good source to bounce theories off of….as long as he behaves like a good little boy.” Eric later shared with the group that he had been contacted via email by the same individual: “Jimmy, Great points and worthy of sound debate. We can talk again at another point. Now this morning I awoke to a gem of a private message from one —- —-, who suggested I am involved the Aryan Nation. Now that’s a new one, but typical of ongoing ignorance and outright stupidity when it comes to discussions such as this. So I’ll be signing off now, having made an effort to have reasonable discourse.” [Just for the record, I have never met Eric in person and the only correspondence that we've had took place on this blog some time ago.]