A Good Year For Silas Chandler

I absolutely love this photo.  Pictured below are two generations of the Chandler-Sampson family taking the time over the holidays to learn about their famous ancestor.  The photo conveys the power of history and reinforces my firm belief that what we do as historians matters.  I am sure my co-author, Myra Chandler Sampson, agrees.  There is still time to pick up the most recent issue of Civil War Times at your local newsstand.  I think it is safe to say that 2011 was a good year for Silas Chandler.

North Carolina’s Other Civil War Sesquicentennial

After Virginia no other state has done more to commemorate the American Civil War than North Carolina.  Their state commission has done an excellent job thus far of organizing activities that reflect an incredibly rich and complex past.  They are doing their very best to make the war relevant to the state’s diverse population by focusing on a wide range of themes from the military to race to memory.  I have a number of friends who are directly involved in the commission’s work and I can say with confidene that they are making an impact on a number of levels.

Even with all the work this group has undertaken it appears that not everyone is satisfied.  In fact, there are two Civil War sesquicentennial commemorations taking place in North Carolina.  The other one is being called the North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial and they even have their own website.  The commission is headed by Bernhard Thuersam, who works as a home designer.  So, why an alternative commemoration?

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Dear Amanda

As many of you know there are certain people that are not allowed to comment on this site.  You are free to disagree with what I write here, but I expect that you do so in a respectful manner.  This is my personal website and I set the rules.  You are free to use your language of choice on other websites or on your own.  Now, it seems that I may have been too quick to dismiss a comment that I thought had been authored by an individual who is banned from commenting on this site.  More on why I believed this later, but first I give you Mr. Carl Roden’s version of the events in question.

The last thing I want to do is alienate a young adult who expresses an interest in American history.  I’ve spent the past 12 years working to make history both exciting and relevant to high school aged students.  With this in mind I want to offer a sincere apology to young Amanda.  I encourage you to share your ideas on this site in the future if you are moved to do so.

Two things before I close: First, let me suggest that you change your email identification to something other than dixibytch.  It is not fitting for a young Georgia girl.  And I wonder if you can explain why your comment and that of Mr. Roden, who has been banned from this site, have the same IP Address?  I found it strange that your first and only comment on this blog, which references Mr. Roden specifically, includes the same IP address.

Well, I am sure that it was just a coincidence, but I truly hope that you understand why your comment was edited.  Best of luck with the second half of the school year.

Update: Dear Amanda, — It appears that the post in question was deleted from the Southern Heritage Preservation Group’s page, but just to show how sincere I am in my apology I include two screenshots below.  Here is a link to the edited comment.  Looks like Amanda gets around. :-)

Was/Is Secession Constitutional?

Please don’t hold your breath for an answer to this question.  To be honest, I don’t really have any interest in debating it nor do I really care whether secession was/is constitutional.  I suspect that apart from law school classes our answers to this question as both a historical and present proposition is largely determined by whether one believes that secession is necessary to correct some social or political problem.  While I certainly see plenty of social and political problems that need to be dealt with, at this point it seems to me that they can be best addressed within our present constitutional framework.

I’ve always found the passionate identification with those white southerners who advocated Southern nationalism and secession in the years leading up to the Civil War to be disingenuous or at least open to scrutiny on a number of counts.  In certain circles the question is debated in the abstract, but what I find troubling about the way I see many people play this game is the tendency to place themselves in a direct line to specific historical actors.  They play the role of rightful inheritors of a certain argument or movement and in the process blur the distinction between the present and the past: In short, “What was their fight is our fight.”

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The Last Word

On this final day of 2011 I thought I would hand things over to you.  What stands out in your Civil War memory from the past year and what are you looking forward to in the coming year?

See you in 2012.