Bring On Governor John A. Andrew

I am scrapping the black Confederate book project. I just don’t have it in me to work on it anymore. There is nothing intellectually challenging about it and it only works to frustrate me when I think about some of the characters that I would have to address in the memory section. I’ve got an essay on the subject coming out in the December issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era and I may write up one long essay that covers a large chunk of research for another publication, but that’s it. I want to get my hands dirty again and actually figure something out. It’s on to Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew. Continue reading

“Passes! Passes For White Folks!”

It’s impossible to deny the influence that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on Civil War scholarship. The two most obvious places in which you can see this influence is in the number of new studies on Civil War veterans as well as medical treatment of soldiers. You can also see it in the fast-growing field of guerrilla war studies and the challenges of occupation. Continue reading

“For Every Flag Removed…”

Virginia FlaggersHere’s the problem with this logic. It’s not simply a question of whether or not a Confederate flag is flying on a university campus, public building or roadside lamp. Confederate heritage groups can organize and raise as many flags in response to their removal as they want, but they will never be able to counter what is really being rejected.

It’s not simply the flag, but everything that can legitimately be associated with it from the stated goals of the Confederate nation through the use of the flag as a symbol of “massive resistance” against black civil rights during the 50s and 60s and beyond. In removing the flags the communities in question are taking a stand and making public their values. Continue reading

“From the Colored Citizens of Virginia”

Mahone RingAs you might imagine, William Mahone was front and center last week in Petersburg for the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. His memory looms large over the history of the battle as well as how the battle was remembered after the war. I talked quite a bit about Mahone’s postwar political career as leader of the Readjuster Party as well as his attempts to use the memory of the battle to further his interests. As you will see on August 20 (when C-SPAN will broadcast the talk) the Q&A following the talk was dominated by the audience’s interest in Mahone and I was more than happy to oblige.

Earlier that morning during a panel discussion on the battle a gentleman, who styles himself a local historian, handed out a little pamphlet that featured a cane with a silver tip that was given to Mahone as a gift by a group of black Virginians. This short leaflet includes some choice quotes and commentary that this individual believes reflects a close relationship between Mahone and the black community. The danger, of course, is that this ring can be used to draw any number of conclusions without attention to proper historical context. And context is everything in this case. Continue reading