Does James Longstreet Deserve a Monument?

longstreetThis past Wednesday Charles Lane authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post that called for a monument to be erected in New Orleans to Confederate General James Longstreet. The essay has now been re-printed in newspapers across the country.

Lane believes that Longstreet’s postwar alignment with the Republican Party and other exploits points to an important historical lesson in redemption that has all but been forgotten.

According to the author, the removal of monuments to Lee, Davis and Beauregard and the raising of one to Longstreet will serve to “correct the balance of honor in public spaces.” Continue reading “Does James Longstreet Deserve a Monument?”

AHA to Address Confederate Symbolism Debate

Earlier today the American Historical Association announced that they will be adding a plenary session at the annual meeting on Confederate symbolism that will be free and open to the public. Panelists include David Blight, Fitz Brundage, John Coski, Daina Ramey Berry, and Jane Turner Censer. The goals of the panel involve the following:

Addressing the current public debate surrounding Confederate symbolism, the historians will reflect on the relationship between celebration, commemoration, memory, and history. Drawing on their expertise on the specifics of each situation, knowledge of similar controversies in the past, and the insights of historical thinking itself, the historians will also deliberate on what can and cannot be accomplished by the removal/relocation of Confederate symbols.

I have no doubt that the historians on this panel will engage their audience with a rich discussion about the history and memory of Confederate commemorations and celebrations. Coski knows the Richmond commemorative landscape as well as anyone and Brundage can speak to the ongoing controversy surrounding “Silent Sam” at UNC, but at this stage in the game organizations like the AHA need to move beyond such a limited format. Continue reading “AHA to Address Confederate Symbolism Debate”

New Orleans To Remove Four Confederate Monuments

Earlier today the New Orleans city council voted 6 to 1 to remove four Confederate monuments. The vote was preceded by a lengthy and heated public forum that you can see here. I decided early this morning to write up some thoughts assuming that the vote would go the way it did. You can read my essay at the Atlantic.

Regardless of your position, a good case can be made that this decision is the final act of our Civil War sesquicentennial.

Confederate Flags Return to W&L’s Lee Chapel

Well, not exactly, but John Paul Strain’s latest effort at realism is the next best thing for those people upset with the recent removal of Confederate flags from the chapel room. It’s a curious print and while it may do well within a certain community Strain’s choices distorts the history and identity of Lee Chapel.

Lee ChapelYes, Edward Valentine’s beautiful marble recumbent statue depicts Lee in his military uniform, but as far as I know there are no other symbols of the former Confederacy present when the room was first dedicated. More problematic, however, is the addition of images of Stuart and Jackson on the rear panels. Strain makes it appear that their images have been etched into the panels, but as many of you know, they are in fact clear.

Lee’s burial site was not intended to be a Lost Cause shrine to the Confederacy and the flags that adorned the space, before they were removed last year, only arrived in the 1930s. In my mind the attempt at realism with the addition of Stuart and Jackson does a disservice to the purpose of the space and perhaps even the way Lee wanted to be remembered.

Students Debate the Confederate Flag

It’s nice to see students talking to one another in the safety of a classroom about the Confederate flag. I am not sure where this debate took place. What I don’t get the sense of, however, is that students have been prepped in any way by their teacher about the history of the flag, though it is clear that a few students have done a little research. Click here for a recent post in which I outline one way that a middle or high school teacher can teach the controversy surrounding the memory of the Confederate flag. Continue reading “Students Debate the Confederate Flag”