New to the Civil War Memory Library, 01/18

Finished reading Gordon Wood’s new dual biography of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Can’t say I learned anything new, but it is a fast and entertaining read by one of the leading historians of the period. [click to continue…]

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It Comes Down to What We Believe

I don’t think that any black person can speak of Malcolm and Martin without wishing that they were here. It is not possible for me to speak of them without a sense of loss and grief and rage; and with the sense, furthermore, of having been forced to undergo an unforgivable indignity, both personal and vast. Our children need them, which is, indeed, the reason that they are not here: and now we, the blacks, must make certain that our children never forget them. For the American republic has always done everything in its power to destroy our children’s heroes, with the clear (and sometimes clearly stated) intention of destroying our children’s hope. This endeavor has doomed the American nation: mark my words…
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Robert E. Lee Barred From Lee Chapel

Those of you who have followed the antics of the Virginia Flaggers over the years will get a good laugh out of this one. It appears that participants wearing Confederate uniforms in the annual parade in Lexington, Virginia to honor Lee-Jackson Day were prevented from visiting the Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington & Lee University. This included a man portraying Robert E. Lee himself. [click to continue…]

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Some Thoughts about Public History, Monuments, and Teaching

Last summer I took part in an NEH summer workshop at the Georgia Historical Society called “Recognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory, and the General Public.” In addition to delivering a lecture on monuments and Civil War memory I sat down for a brief interview with the GHS staff. We covered a lot of ground related to the subject of my talk and other themes addressed during the workshop. [click to continue…]

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“The Soldiers All Love McClellan”: Even Robert Gould Shaw

I am beginning to see the outlines of an argument. Our tendency to focus on the last six months of Col. Robert Gould Shaw’s military career in command of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry has left us with an incomplete and even distorted view of his place in Civil War memory. We tend to see his parents, specifically his mother, as pushing him to see the necessity of recruiting African Americans into the army thus transforming the very purpose of the Union war effort. [click to continue…]

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What’s In a Confederate Name

While much of the media has focused on the debate about Confederate monuments, communities across the country have quietly taken steps to change the names of buildings, streets, and other structures named after Confederate leaders. The city of Petersburg is currently debating whether to change the names of two schools named after Generals Robert E. Lee and A.P. Hill. It is my hope they find the collective will to make this change. [click to continue…]

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United Daughters of the Confederacy and Lost Cause Go Viral

Who says millennials aren’t interested in history? Back in September, during the height of the Confederate monument debate, I was contacted by Coleman Lowndes, who works on making short videos for the newsite, Vox. Coleman was hoping to put together a video on the United Daughters of the Confederacy and their influence on the Lost Cause that would offer some insight into the broader debate about the legacy of the Confederacy. [click to continue…]

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What is The Root’s Position on Black Confederates?

Over the past week media coverage has spiked in response to the proposal from two Republican state legislators in South Carolina, who are proposing to erect a monument to black Confederates on the state house grounds. What is different about this latest wave of coverage is the clear denial that these men ever existed in South Carolina. Given the often poor reporting on this subject over the years this is certainly a welcome development. [click to continue…]

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