Civil War Boston for Bostonians

The current issue of The Civil War Monitor includes my top 10 list of Civil War-related sites in and around Boston. I fully realize that this is a subjective choice, but I do hope it reveals to Bostonians and visitors that the city’s Civil War commemorative landscape is worth exploring along with its rich history from the Revolution. Thanks to Terry Johnston for the opportunity to share a bit of the history from my new home. Click here for your subscription to the CWM.

Civil War Monitor Top 10

Civil War Monitor Top 10 (1-5)

Civil War Monitor Top 10

Civil War Monitor Top 10 (6-10)

4 comments

Review of Caroline Janney’s Remembering the Civil War

JanneyHere is my review of Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation, which will appear in the next issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (pp. 389-90). It goes without saying that I highly recommend this book.

In 2001, David Blight published Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. The book won numerous awards and helped to shape a wave of academic studies that soon followed. Blight’s depiction of a nation that by the turn of the twentieth century had largely embraced sectional reconciliation at the expense of a legacy of emancipation also found a voice outside academic halls on National Park Service battlefields and in museum exhibitions. Many have embraced the narrative of emancipation and its emphasis on African American soldiers throughout the sesquicentennial commemorations as part of an effort to overcome a nation’s willful amnesia. [click to continue…]

2 comments

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 11/21

Jaime MartinezEnrico Dal Lago, William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini: Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform, (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).

William C. Harris, Lincoln and the Union Governors, (University of Southern Illinois Press, 2013).

Jaime A. Martinez, Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Jared Peatman, The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, (University of Southern Illinois Press, 2013).

Kevin Peraino, Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power, (Crown, 2013).

Rachel A. Shelden, Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

John David Smith, Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops, (University of Southern Illinois Press, 2013).

Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, (University of California Press, 2013).

2 comments

Colbert Introduces McQueen to the Lost Cause

In this interview with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, Steven Colbert finds a way to both playfully diffuse and explore Lost Cause themes related to slavery. At the beginning of the interview he comments, “I’ve heard the move makes slavery look really bad.” Later after sharing that he is from South Carolina Colbert admits to having learned that “I grew up hearing that some slaves enjoyed…the job security…” The audience laughs in response, but they do so unaware of the fact that there are plenty of people who still subscribe to the Lost Cause belief that slavery was benign.

While I suspect that Colbert is consciously referencing the impact of the Lost Cause on how Americans remember slavery, what is hard to determine is whether McQueen picks up on it. One gets the sense that he simply views Colbert’s comments as outrageous.

Interestingly, I have not heard anyone from the Southern Heritage crowd complain about the depiction of slavery in this movie. Perhaps the movie is still in limited release or there is a unwillingness to challenge a film that is so closely based on a slave narrative.

11 comments

President Obama Edits Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Yes, President Barack Obama deserves some criticism for not attending celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. You can’t spend as much time as this president has over the years identifying with Lincoln without having to deal with questions about why you refuse to attend the sesquicentennial of the most important speech in American history. One of the more absurd arguments (not surprisingly) comes from a FOX News interview with a Wall Street Journal columnist, who actually argues that given the president’s popularity right now it was probably the right decision not to attend. Participation would have just added coal to the fire.

It would be interesting to have poll numbers for Lincoln’s popularity in November 1863. If we follow this argument to it logical conclusion, it is likely that Lincoln himself should have stayed away from Gettysburg altogether. Can you imagine a president so unpopular and still have the nerve to show up at a battlefield in the middle of a civil war to dedicate a new cemetery? [click to continue…]

13 comments