Civil War Memory Class at Tredegar in Richmond (2007) – EH has his arm around Lincoln.
Last night’s meeting of the Charlottesville City Council on the future of its Confederate monuments was well worth watching in its entirety. A number of people spoke, expressing a wide range of perspectives on the history of these sites and what should, if anything, be done. One current and two former history professors from the University of Virginia spoke as did a Robert E. Lee impersonator, who suggested that a monument to Sojourner Truth ought to be erected. Yes, you heard that right.
Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers spoke and then promptly walked out of the room, demonstrating once again that this group has absolutely no interest in engaging community members. They are content on imposing their views along with threats of erecting Confederate flags in high trafficked areas if they don’t get their way. [click to continue…]
Right now the Virginia Flaggers are holding a rally at Charlottesville’s Lee Park in anticipation of a city council meeting tonight that will discuss the future of Confederate monuments in the city. The Flaggers will likely take the opportunity to share with city residents that the Confederate flag has nothing to do with the history of racism and white supremacy and that Robert E. Lee was an early civil rights leader.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, New York you can show your support for Donald Trump with this…
This morning BuzzFeedpublished an extensive and thoughtful essay about Silas Chandler and his place in the black Confederate narrative by Adam Serwer. Serwer carefully explores the available sources related to Silas’s time in the war, but he also does an excellent job of untangling the many myths that have surfaced in connection with the famous photograph of Andrew and Silas. Just as interesting are the interviews that Serwer conducted with the descendants of both Andrew and Silas and their competing understanding of the history of the relationship between these two men and, perhaps more importantly, what that relationship means in 2016.
I have been in contact with Adam for some time and shared a number of sources with him for this essay. You will see numerous links to this website and and other essays published over the past few years. This is as comprehensive an account that you will find online and it raises all kinds of important questions. For me, it is a reminder of why the black Confederate narrative deserves attention from historians and why it needs to be challenged at every turn.
Gary Gallagher was recently interviewed on the current debate in Charlottesville, Virginia over the future of Confederate monuments. Gallagher makes a strong case for contextualizing these sites rather than removing the monuments.
I agree entirely with Gallagher that interpretation of these sites can help us to better understand the tough questions related to the history of race in this country and I also agree that any serious look at our nation’s history should, on occasion, make us uncomfortable. At the same time I also believe that there are many ways that we can achieve these goals, one being the removal of certain monuments.
That said, my hope is that Charlottesville’s city council will take advantage of Gallagher’s expertise on the history and memory of these sites.
Update: Here is another sketch set during Davis’s flight from Richmond that depicts camp slaves on foot and as teamsters.
Recently I went through some old email correspondence related to my research on black Confederates. All the way back in 2011 Andy Hall emailed a link to two sketches that appeared in the Illustrated London Times from 1865. The first sketch depicts Jefferson Davis “signing acts of government” while on the run following the abandonment of Richmond in early April 1865. In the second sketch Davis “bids farewell to his escort two days before his capture.” [click to continue…]