New to the Civil War Memory Library, 11/30

Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions for further reading on the Vietnam War. Keep them coming.

Mark Snell Peter Cozzens, The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (Knopf, 2016).

D.H. Dilbeck, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War, (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books, 2016).

John H. Matsui, The First Republican Army: The Army of Virginia and the Radicalization of the Civil War, (University Press of Virginia, 2016).

Mark A. Snell, My Gettysburg: Meditations on History and Place (Kent State University Press, 2016).

Richard Snow, Iron Dawn: The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History (Scribner Publishing, 2016).

John Strasbaugh, City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil War (Twelve Publishers, 2016).

The President-Elect’s Tweets

One final thought: What opportunities are there to use the president-elect’s embrace of social media to encourage smart civic engagement among our students? What responsibilities come with having such access to the future president and how can we encourage students to do so in a productive way?

I follow and, on occasion, respond to Donald Trump’s tweets. There, I said it. In fact, the more I do the more I consider it a form of healthy civic engagement. President Obama and other elected officials use twitter, but it is not always clear when their tweets are published by staffers. There is no question that Trump’s output is his own and this both thrills his supporters and horrifies his detractors. [click to continue…]

Landscape and Memory in Vietnam

I trust that all of you had a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family. My Thanksgiving included an invitation to join a team of educators and historians from the United States and Vietnam to develop an interactive, inquiry-based set of instructional materials that will align with the upcoming commemorations and anniversaries of the American Vietnam War for use in the secondary and post-secondary classroom. The project is being organized by the National Humanities Center in Durham, North Carolina. [click to continue…]

Meet Mose, Our Little “Gray Ghost”

Say hello to Mose, named after Col. John S. Mosby and for you “Office” fans, Dwight Schroot’s curious cousin. We picked up Mose, along with his sister, Clara, yesterday at a shelter in Hopkinton, just outside of Boston.

MoseThis pic was taken just after an intense 15 minute ear washing from his sister. Mose will be out of action for the rest of the afternoon.

Unfortunately, we lost our cat, Felix, this past September from cancer. He was an incredibly kind kitty. JEB and Felix have been with us for 14 years. While his brother, JEB, is adjusting well he is still an incredibly active and playful cat. We thought he might like some new playmates. Introductions will be made tonight and hopefully, if everything works out well, JEB and Mosby will soon be planning their next offensive.

Recognizing an Imperfect Past at the Georgia Historical Society

Undergraduate instructors, public historians, and independent scholars that have an interest in the continuing and often bitter debates about how American history is remembered and commemorated throughout the country should definitely consider applying to this NEH funded workshop, Recognizing an Imperfect Past, at the Georgia Historical Society. This Summer Institute will take place over a 2-week period (June 11-23) in Savannah, Georgia. [click to continue…]

Dismantling of Louisville’s Confederate Monument Begins

In just the past few hours workers have begun work to dismantle Louisville’s Confederate monument in preparation for its relocation in Brandenburg. I believe this is the first large American city to make such a move.

Louisville MonumentThis is the part of the story that I believe The New York Times missed in its coverage of recent displays of the Confederate battle flag. Confederate battle flags may still be embraced by individuals and organizations, but they, along with the monuments, no longer represent the values of many communities throughout the South. It needs to be acknowledged regardless of whether you approve of their removal or re-location.

The Retreat of the Confederate Battle Flag Continues

A number of you emailed me a story that appeared in The New York Times about the supposed resurgence of the Confederate battle flag during the 2016 election. It is certainly an attractive narrative for those unfamiliar with its recent history.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with the story. It includes plenty of examples of recent battle flag sightings around the country, interviews with flag supporters and detractors, and the obligatory interview with an academic historian. All good so far. [click to continue…]

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Cotton”

Came across this excerpt from a sermon delivered in 1860 in South Carolina by Rev. William O. Prentiss. The title is, “The Power of Slave Labor.”

Three hundred and fifty thousand white men directing the labor of less than four millions of African slaves, have furnished the material, out of which has been reared this colossal fabric, and it begins to topple to its fall at the first bright promise that their sustaining aid shall be withdrawn. If further proof be required that the labor to which I have alluded, has built up these vast, these important interests, consult the statistics of our country; study figures which no human ingenuity can torture into indorsement of a lie. History shows that the country makes no palpable improvement until the grand staple of the earth’s necessities begins to be reared here, and that its advances are exactly proportioned to the amount and value of the African slave labor employed by us. The whole commerce of the civilized world is based upon this labor; it feeds the hungry, it clothes the naked, it employs the idler, it supports tottering thrones and starving paupers; kings in their diadems, and beggars in their rags, all cry aloud to the god who feeds them, ‘Give us this day our daily cotton.’

And that, my friends, is a mid-nineteenth century interpretation of American Exceptionalism.