Conservatives and the Confederate Flag

In this short video a black Republican argues against the Confederate flag. His understanding of the history of the Democratic and Republican parties is problematic, but the broader argument certainly complicates our understanding of the deep divisions that exist in this ongoing controversy.

[Uploaded to YouTube on November 25, 2014]

Happy Thanksgiving

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Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation seems to me to be very appropriate this week.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

A Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving to you and your family.

New To the Civil War Memory Library, 11/17

Across Bloody ChasmCongratulations to fellow blogger and historian, Keith Harris, on the publication of his new book. It’s always nice to see hard work rewarded and I hope Keith is enjoying that feeling of holding a new hardcover book. I’ve made my way through the first chapter and can’t recommend it enough. Keith’s work fits neatly into a growing body of scholarship that challenges an interpretation made popular by David Blight that places reconciliation at the center of Civil War memory at the expense of memory of emancipation and the end of slavery. It is well worth your time.

Aaron Sheehan-Dean ed., The Civil War: The Final Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Library of America, 2014).

M. Keith Harris, Across the Bloody Chasm: The Culture of Commemoration among Civil War Veterans (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).

Dick Lehr, The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War (Public Affairs, 2014).

Ethan Rafuse ed., Corps Commanders in Blue: Union Major Generals in the Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).

Timothy B. Smith, The Mississippi Secession Convention: Delegates and Deliberations in Politics and War, 1861-1865 (University of Mississippi Press, 2014).

North Carolinians Knew It Was a Rebellion

How many times have you been told that the proper way to refer to our civil war is the “War Between the States”? The folks who insist on it almost always assume they are speaking for their ancestors. We don’t need to go into the arguments for or against it here. In 1914, North Carolinians went to the polls to decide whether to change the name of the war to “War Between the States.”

In the end they decided that “War of the Rebellion” worked just fine. Turns out that the generation that fought the war, and their children, knew exactly what they had unsuccessfully engaged in and were comfortable acknowledging it.