I’ve said before that I do not see any significant change in the high quality of Civil War studies. Young historians such as Barton guarantee that we will have much to learn and mull over in the coming years.
I just returned from a brief trip home to see the folks in Jersey. My wife and I spent one day walking the beautiful beaches in Ventnor and Margate before meeting up with the family for Chinese food. With a few hours to kill and a hearty appetite we decided to go for a little appetizer at the world famous White House Subs in Atlantic City – just one of my many old stomping grounds. Hey, I can get Chinese food anywhere, but where I am I going to find a decent sub outside of Jersey? Forget about it.
A few blocks past the large parking lot that once included my high school on Albany Avenue, I noticed what appeared to be a typical Civil War monument that you will find in many parks in the northeast. A quick stop revealed that it was indeed a Civil War monument and I am embarrassed to admit that I never noticed it before. All I know about it is that the monument was dedicated in 1916. Given that the city did not exist in the 1860s it would be interesting to know why the community decided to honor the veterans. Perhaps enough of them moved to the city for health reasons that it was warranted.
I have no doubt that as a high school delinquent I smoked a few cigarettes while sitting at the monument’s base before trying to sneak into the closest casino.
My summer break is quickly winding down as I try to put the finishing touches on a chunk of my Crater research, including an article on understanding the battle as a slave rebellion from the perspective of Confederate soldiers for one of the Civil War magazines. With that in mind, I came across a very interesting essay by historian, Steven Hahn on the lack of scholarly attention concerning Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association. Hahn offers two points of reassessment that are needed if we are to better understand the dearth of scholarship. First, we need to move from viewing emancipation as two separate events – one in the North following the American Revolution and the other one in the South during the Civil War. According to Hahn, it “should be be viewed not as two discrete events but as a single protracted process (more protracted than anywhere else in the Atlantic world), associated most closely with state formation—the rise, developing capacity, claims to authority, and consolidation of a nation-state—rather than with an “irrepressible” conflict between free and slave societies.”
Last week I found out what I will be teaching for the coming year. Before I get to that I should mention that the biggest change for me this coming year will be in taking on the responsibilities of department chair. Now, before you go ahead and congratulate me please keep in mind that I don’t have an administrative bone in my body and under normal circumstances you would find this close to the bottom of my list of career goals. Let’s just say that last year included its share of excitement and leave it at that. Part of me is looking forward to this new challenge of working closely with two new teachers and having to help formulate a new history curriculum for our Upper School.