“I Feel Like I am Living in the 50s”

It’s a script embedded in American history. If you want to send an African-American family the message that they are not welcome in your community, there is no more potent of a symbol than the Confederate battle flag. Its message is unmistakable even without the additional forms of intimidation employed by Shaun Porter against this family.

Porter’s behavior is disgusting and his choice of flag connects him with the worst racial elements that this country has to offer. I hope this is resolved soon.

Will the Virginia Flaggers “Restore the Honor” at St. Paul’s Episcopal?

The recent decision by the community at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond has received a great deal of media coverage. It is certainly one of the most significant decisions on the part of an institution to remove Confederate iconography since the lowering of the Confederate battle flag in Columbia, S.C. this past summer. St. Paul’s has a deep historical connection to Richmond’s Confederate past. General Robert E. Lee and his wife attended services at St. Paul’s whenever possible throughout the war. In 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was confirmed as a member of the parish. Many members of the community gave their lives in service of the Confederacy. The site was also used to treat wounded soldiers. On the morning of  April 2, 1865, President Davis was delivered a message from General Lee stating that Petersburg, could no longer be defended thus rendering Richmond indefensible. Davis quietly left the church, and evacuated the Confederate government and army from the city that afternoon. Continue reading “Will the Virginia Flaggers “Restore the Honor” at St. Paul’s Episcopal?”

Donald Trump: Civil War Historian and Preservationist

I know some of you enjoyed a good laugh yesterday in response to a New York Times story about Donald Trump’s golf course in Virginia, which includes a historical marker to a battle that never took place. I did as well. The story can now be found on all of the major news sites, but no one has offered any reflections about what this tells us about Trump or his understanding and use of history. Perhaps it’s obvious, but I decided to give it a shot for The Daily Beast. TDB does no longer allows comments so feel free to leave your thoughts below.

You should also check out Craig Swain’s post on this issue. In it he references two Union soldiers shot and killed by civilians. Not much is known about the incident.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Takes a Stand on Confederate History and Memory

St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond has announced that it will remove many of the objects that venerate the Confederacy, including specifically those items featuring the Confederate flag. Items that will be removed include six plaques. Plaques honoring Davis’s wife and daughter will be modified as will the church’s coat of arms. The church also plans to erect a memorial to those slaves that were members of the community. [I wrote about the public history side of this controversy back in early October.] Continue reading “St. Paul’s Episcopal Takes a Stand on Confederate History and Memory”

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Civil War Memory

Congratulations to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is the recipient of this year’s National Book Award in non-fiction for Between the World and Me, which has been on the New York Times’s bestseller list for 17 weeks. I read it the first week of its release and thoroughly enjoyed it. Below is Coates’s very emotional and humble acceptance speech.

At some point I want to write an essay about Coates’s understanding of the Civil War and historical memory. Continue reading “Ta-Nehisi Coates and Civil War Memory”