D.S. Freeman High School Reflects On Its History

This video was done by a couple of students at D.S. Freeman High School in Richmond, Virginia as part of a school wide discussion centered on whether they should get rid of their “Rebel” mascot.  The video offers a nice overview of the school’s history and includes a number of interviews with students and teachers.  Well done.

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Should Ford’s Theatre Sell Billo’s Book?

Is This Book Worth Reading?

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. has decided not to sell the bestselling book, Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.  The decision was made following a thorough review of the book by Deputy Superintendent, Rae Emerson.  I don’t have any problem with the NPS making such a decision; in fact, I applaud it.  The NPS review is included in the Salon article for your consideration.  When I posted the article to the Civil War Memory page one of my readers responded that she had canceled her order for it.  That got me thinking.  Let me be clear, there are plenty of mistakes in this book, but I still wonder whether they render the book unreadable.

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Are License Plates Confederately Correct?

Harper's Weekly, September 17, 1864

It should come as no surprise that the Sons of Confederate Veterans attributes yesterday’s unanimous decision by the Texas DMV as another attack on Confederate symbols and “Southern Heritage” more generally.  It may surprise you to learn, however, that the leadership of the SCV at the turn of the twentieth century likely would have viewed yesterday’s decision as a victory.

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Texas Says NO

Proposed Texas SCV Vanity Plate

The plate was rejected unanimously by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.  Read the story here.

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Virginia at War, 1865 Now Available

University Press of Kentucky

The final volume of the Virginia at War series from the University Press of Kentucky is now available, which includes my essay on the demobilization of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  My essay follows Lee’s men along the roads and paths out of Appomattox and explores, among other things, their encounters with Federal troops, ex-slaves, as well as their response to Lincoln’s assassination.  I have said before that we draw much too sharp a line between the Civil War and Reconstruction.  It doesn’t take much of an effort to appreciate that some of the fundamental questions surrounding the war had yet to be decided.  My narrow time frame also reinforced the importance of contingency when looking at the past.  Many of the men were in the dark about what to expect when they arrived home or how they would go about picking up the pieces of a world that had changed so dramatically in four short years.  I was struck by the extent to which their accounts, especially those who lived in the paths of the two armies, emphasized the altered landscapes.  Lee’s men also learned of Lincoln’s assassination while on the road.  Some of the reports indicated that in addition to Lincoln, the vice-president, secretary of state, and even Grant were also dead.  For some of these men, there was no government.

Other authors in this volume include Jaime A. Martinez, Ervin Jordan, John M. Mclure, and Chris Calkins.  I am thrilled to have an essay in a book edited by James I. Robertson and William C. Davis.

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