When at Gettysburg Remember to Turn Around

Just returned from a short trip in which I accompanied a group of high school students from Brooklyn to Washington, D.C., Harpers Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg. Thanks to Lisa Kapp – a longtime reader of this blog and a very talented history teacher – for asking me to come along as a guide. I had a wonderful time. [click to continue…]

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When Your “Friends” Include Sons of Confederate Veterans

Earlier today a lawsuit was filed in Virginia challenging the recent vote of the Charlottesville City Council to relocate the Robert E. Lee monument. I don’t necessarily have a problem with a lawsuit to try and prevent the monument from being moved. The plaintiffs are residents of the community and they have every right to voice their concerns in this way. [click to continue…]

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Explore the History of Reconstruction in Washington, D.C.

If you are a history teacher looking for a summer professional development opportunity, I encourage you to consider Ford’s Theatre’s “The Seat of War and Peace,” which runs from July 23-28. This is a unique opportunity to study the history of Reconstruction in and around the Washington, D.C. area. [click to continue…]

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Facebook (sort of) Cracking Down on Fake History

Facebook is making good on its recent decision to flag “fake news” through a collaboration with the Associated Press and Snopes.com. You can see this at work in reference to the myth of the Irish slave, which functions along the same lines as the Black Confederate myth. Both attempt to diffuse arguments about race-based slavery in the United States and particularly in the South.

Here is how Facebook is signaling to its users that they may be sharing “disputed” information.

Let me first say that I am not a huge fan of Facebook flagging websites even though I completely agree that this historical narrative lacks any basis in fact and I would like to see the sharing of these websites brought in check. The fight against “fake news” and “fake history” ought to be fought elsewhere, especially in the classroom.

The larger problem is that these popups don’t really address the larger problem on Facebook. You can join hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook pages that promote all kinds of wacky theories and historical interpretations. Lord knows how much time I have spent on various Black Confederate pages and I suspect that there are just as many devoted to the myth of Irish slaves.

If Facebook was really interested in cracking down on misinformation it would have to do something on this end. But even going this far, as the actor James Woods notes, is unlikely to result in any substantial changes in how users judge information on their social media platforms.

That was not an endorsement of James Woods’s tweet, but was simply meant to point out that this battle will only be won through education.

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But What About Those Northern Prison Camps?

Earlier this morning I tweeted an article about soldiers from Massachusetts who died at the Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. I didn’t think much of it beyond the human interest element, but a couple of references did catch the eye of Chris Barr.

The camp has been described as “America’s Auschwitz” and “the deadliest ground of the Civil War.”

Conditions at Union prisoner-of-war camps weren’t much better. The worst was Camp Rathbun at Elmira, N.Y., where nearly 3,000 rebel soldiers died of disease and cold. Known among its 12,000 inmates as “Hellmira,” the camp posted a mortality rate of nearly 25 percent.

Here is his response:

Chris makes some good points. What do you think?

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Trolled Once Again by Edward Sebesta

I hesitate responding to posts by Edward Sebesta that are about me, but in some corners he is still taken seriously. This past week brings two posts in which I am referred to as both a ‘Neo-Confederate apologist and “establishmentarian.” Someone will have to clue me in on the latter’s meaning. [click to continue…]

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A Conversation About the Confederate Battle Flag

This video is worth watching in its entirety. It features a young African American female rap artist, who goes by the name Genesis B. She is originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, but now lives and performs in New York City. After protesting Mississippi’s refusal to change its state flag Be flew back to Mississippi to explore the flag’s legacy and its impact on her community. At the end is a wonderful conversation between Be and a childhood friend, who is descended from Confederate soldiers and a supporter of the flag.

It’s a wonderful example of the kinds of conversations that we should and can have about this subject.

[Uploaded to YouTube on March 14, 2017]

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A Good Week For Reconstruction Resources

This week has brought some wonderful new resources on Reconstruction. First, check out this panel discussion from last month at the New York Historical Society that included Harold Holzer, Edna Medford, Eric Foner, and David Blight. Those are some heavy hitters. [click to continue…]

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