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?”

Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend heading over to the Civil Discourse blog and reading Ashley Whitehead Luskey’s excellent essay on the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate iconography. It is the most thorough essay that I have read to date and has helped me to continue to clarify my own thinking about this thorny issue. Ashley calls on public historians, “to convey to the broader public the unique professional skills, knowledge, and perspective that we possess on these topics and how such expertise can be put to work in their favor, if they choose to engage us in their discussions and decision-making.” Continue reading “Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History”

Hillary Clinton on Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction

Last night at the Democratic Town Hall Meeting in Iowa Hillary Clinton offered up a reminder of why a solid grasp of Reconstruction is essential to our understanding of American history. While the 150th anniversary of the Civil War received a great deal of attention from historic sites, museums and a host of educational institutions, very little is being done to commemorate Reconstruction. Continue reading “Hillary Clinton on Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction”

How To Interpret a $35 Nylon Confederate Flag

The controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate battle flag on South Carolina’s State House grounds continues. A number of public officials and other concerned citizens have expressed frustration over the projected costs for displaying the flag at the South Carolina Relic Room and Museum.

In my latest essay at The Daily Beast I comment on what I see as the bigger problem of how the flag should be interpreted for the general public. I fear we are going to end up right back where we started.

Click here for my other essays at The Daily Beast.

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”