Appointment to the NCHE’s Board of Directors

At the end of next month I will travel to Atlanta to take part in the annual meeting of the National Council for History Education. This is my first NCHE conference and first year registered as a new member, though I have been following the organization’s work and have utilized some of their teaching resources over the years.

I am very much looking forward to spending time with my fellow history teachers, so if you are planning to attend please seek me out and introduce yourself.

I am also attending having just been appointed to the organization’s board of directors. One of the things that I love about the board’s make up is that it includes a number of working history teachers. It is a huge honor and unexpected surprise. My hope is that I will be able to share and work on some of the things that I am passionate about as a result of my somewhat unusual teaching career path.

See you in Atlanta.

Did the Civil War Sesquicentennial Ever End?

I am getting ahead of myself, but over the past few days I’ve been thinking about writing a short book on the Civil War sesquicentennial once I finish my book on the Black Confederate myth. I covered so much of the sesquicentennial on my blog that it would be a shame for it to remain there without trying to work it up into a narrative that has a bit more analytical depth. It would be a concise book around 150 pages. This is not the first time that I have thought about such a book, but now seems like an opportune moment to take it on. [click to continue…]

Lincoln in the Bardo (Video)

Picked up George Saunders’s new novel Lincoln in the Bardo on Thursday and finished it yesterday. I can’t recommend it enough. It is an unconventional narrative structured around fragments from letters, histories, memoirs as well as the voices of three guides stuck between the living and the dead, who attempt to help a recently deceased Willie Lincoln and his grieving father. These three individuals, along with the other residents of the cemetery, refuse to acknowledge their predicament, but in attempting to help Willie to move beyond this state of limbo, they find the strength to confront their own personal demons.

I don’t want to give too much away. The book is about much more than the relationship between Willie and his father. In fact, I now see it as a meditation on many of the themes that Lincoln strikes in his Second Inaugural Address. Anyway, do yourself a favor and read this book You will not be disappointed.

Republicans Honor Lincoln With Fake History

Today the Republican Party decided to mark Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with the following tweet.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Lincoln ever uttered or wrote these words. Amazingly, the manager of this twitter account has yet to take the tweet down or issue a correction. It is certainly not the most egregious example of fake history to come down the pike, but it does point to how easy it is to fall for it.

More than likely the quote was pulled without question from a website. One or two critical questions about the quote’s source would have been sufficient to avoid this little embarrassment.

But as long as this tweet is still up we can be guaranteed that it will continue to be passed on by people who extend their trust without a critical eye. That includes the president, who during the campaign admitted, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.”

The manager of the GOP’s twitter account and our president could just as easily shared the following: “And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take.”

Help make America great again. Consult with your school librarian and devote just a little time to showing your students how to search and assess information from the Web.

Celebrating the Confederacy in 1961

Check out this short video of a Civil War centennial parade in Jackson, Mississippi in March 1961. There is no shortage of Confederate flags. It certainly is a wonderful example of how these events rallied white communities at the height of the civil rights movement.

There does appear to be two black individuals in the parade, one pushing a wheelbarrow at the 54 second mark, but I am not sure what to make of it.

[Uploaded to YouTube on January 7, 2017]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 02/09

Brian R. Dirck, Lincoln in Indiana (Southern Illinois University Press, 2017).

Erica A. Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (Atria, 2017).

Pamela Haag, The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture (Basic Books, 2016).

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Six Encounters With Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons (Viking, 2017).

Brent Tarter, Daydreams & Nightmares: A Virginia Family Faces Secession and War (University Press of Virginia, 2017).