One Final Confederate Memorial Day Celebration

Oakwood Cemetery, May 7, 2016

Oakwood Cemetery, May 7, 2016

Update: Apparently, I touched a nerve with the Virginia Flaggers. Susan Hathaway reports that their CMD celebration attracted roughly 200 people. At one point ceremonies honoring the Confederate dead attracted more substantial numbers from local communities. Now, in the former capital of the Confederacy it might attract 200, including the color guard. Thanks for making my point.

The debate over Confederate iconography in public spaces may still be very much alive, but Confederate heritage is dead. The other day I suggested that Confederate heritage organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy ought to confine their activities to specific times and places. Not everyone agreed with the suggestion. Hopefully, it is sufficiently clear that my thoughts on this subject are driven by a firm conviction that interest in commemorative activities is confined to a very small group that will likely continue to decrease. [click to continue…]

Celebrating Ten Years of Blogging at Boston 1775

Concord, TroianiYou can’t escape the history and heritage of the American Revolution in and around Boston and if you read and write about it you can’t escape John L. Bell’s fabulous blog, Boston 1775. Today is the 10th anniversary of John’s blog and it’s a big deal for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the writing and content are top notch. John manages to uncover obscure individuals and events through careful archival research while at the same time he is able to articulate a new twist on the popular stories that we think we already understand. At a time when predictions of blogging’s demise are on the rise, it is worth acknowledging that John has maintained this level of quality for a decade. [click to continue…]

A Shrinking Confederate Universe

cemetery2009A quick thought.

Tomorrow the local UDC and SCV chapters in Charleston, South Carolina will commemorate Confederate Memorial Day in Magnolia Cemetery. It’s a beautiful place that both evokes the scale of death that Confederates experienced and the lengths to which white Southerners went to honor their sacrifice during the postwar years.

As the debate continues surrounding the public display of Confederate iconography across the South, it is becoming more and more difficult to openly celebrate the Lost Cause. Here I am drawing a distinction between those who care little more than whether a local bakery agrees to accept an order for a Confederate battle flag cake and those who have a deeper attachment to Confederate heritage/history. [click to continue…]

H.K. Edgerton Protested by Ku Klux Klan


Update: Edgerton continues his march through Florida.

H.K. Edgerton is currently walking across the state of Florida in support of Confederate heritage and the battle flag. Yesterday, while paying his respects at the Hemming Park Confederate Monument in Jacksonville, H.K. was approached by a couple members of a local KKK chapter, who took issue with his embrace of the Confederate flag. Fortunately, the situation was quickly defused. [click to continue…]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 05/08

Confederate Political EconomyMichael Brem Bonner, Confederate Political Economy: Creating and Managing a Southern Corporatist Nation (Louisiana State University Press, 2016).

Nicholas Guyatt, Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation (Basic Books, 2016).

Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

D. Peter MacLeod, Northern Armageddon: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the Making of the American Revolution (Knopf, 2016).

Christopher Phillips, The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Ben Wilson, Heyday: The 1850s and the Dawn of the Global Age (Basic Books, 2016).

Mapping Slavery in the North

Slavery in the North

Update: My friend and fellow local historian (and genealogist), Liz Loveland, reminds me that use of the census “obscures that people were illegally keeping people enslaved in free states.” In other words, reliance on the census points to a sharper transition between slavery and freedom than is warranted.

A map of slavery in the North that utilizes the 1790 census has been making the rounds on my twitter and Facebook feeds over the past few days. It is well worth examining and it certainly be used utilized to achieve a number of goals in the history classroom. The map is interactive and allows the user to explore local slave and non-white populations without losing sight of just how widespread and concentrated such populations were throughout the region at the end of the 18th century.

As much information as this map provides, however, it is a somewhat misleading. First, Maine was not a state in 1790. More interesting, however, is the status of Massachusetts as void of enslaved persons in 1790. It obscures the fact that the colony included somewhere around 5,000 slaves (or roughly 2.2% of the population by 1764) before a series of court cases gradually eroded the institution during the Revolution. The map does show the “free non-white” population in the state, but unless the teacher or user already knows that slavery existed in Massachusetts it is likely that the connection will not be made. [click to continue…]

The Future of Civil War History in *Civil War History*

Civil War History

Civil War History, June 2016

In March 2013 I took part in a remarkable conference organized by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College that brought together academics, preservationists, consultants, historical interpreters, museum professionals, living historians, students, K-12 teachers, and new media specialists. I took part in a panel discussion and moderated one on the interpretation of United States Colored Troops at historic sites. It was an intense couple of days that pointed both to the possibilities of future collaboration and places where there remains a deep divide and even misunderstanding among certain groups.

Initial plans included a volume of essays based on the conference presentations, but that proved to be difficult to organize for a number of reasons so a smaller collection was eventually announced for publication in the journal, Civil War History. Nice to finally get my hands on a copy. [click to continue…]

150th Anniversary of the Memphis Massacre

Today is the anniversary of the racial violence that engulfed the city of Memphis, Tennessee between May 1 – 3, 1866. The violence followed shortly after a shooting altercation between recently mustered out black Union soldiers and a white policeman. The violence can be tracked along racial and ethnic lines. There are a number of events taking place in Memphis to mark the anniversary, including what promises to be an excellent symposium at the University of Memphis later this month. A new historical marker was also recently dedicated. [click to continue…]