I couldn’t be more excited to share Common-place’s latest issue on the Civil War sesquicentennial that I had the pleasure to edit with Megan Kate Nelson. We are confident that each of you will find something of interest in this issue. The essays cover a wide range of topics and will hopefully both enlighten and entertain. Special thanks to all the contributors to this issue. We had the pleasure to work with an incredibly talented group of historians and educators, who were both committed to producing their best work and patient with our suggestions and numerous emails. Thanks also to the wonderful editorial staff at Common-place, especially Paul Erickson and Trudy Powers. Continue reading
In this video singer/songwriter Rob Tobias uses the “House Divided” meme to make a point about our contentious current political environment. The other day I cautioned my students to be wary of the tendency to equate our own cultural and political battles with the Civil War Era. Such connections simply don’t hold up well under close scrutiny.
The video is well done and is probably worth showing to a class on Civil War memory. It’s another wonderful example of how social media is being used to interpret the past and make memory.
[Uploaded to YouTube on January 21, 2014]
Bonus: Seems to me the Virginia Flaggers should be protesting the Virginia Military Institute over this decision. Let’s see if they do anything.
Tomorrow is the annual gathering in Lexington, Virginia to mark Lee-Jackson Day, but you don’t get the sense that the diehards are very excited. Yes, the Virginia Flaggers will be there protesting a ban on their beloved flag on city light posts by marching in the streets with their Confederate flags. This remains one of the most ludicrous heritage protests of recent years as you are still permitted to wave as many flags in Lexington’s public places as your heart desires. You just can’t do so on public light poles.
You don’t get the sense from Brandon Dorsey, who organized the event, that he expects a large crowd. Continue reading
In a few weeks the online journal, Common-place, will publish a special issue on the Civil War Sesquicentennial that Megan Kate Nelson and I edited. The issue features essays by Caroline Janney, Ari Kelman, Manisha Sinha, John Hennessy, among others. They cover a wide range of topics that will be of interest to academic and public historians, educators, and Civil War enthusiasts.
Megan and I are very excited about this project and are very much looking forward to its publication. For now we wanted to give you a little taste of the issue by sharing our Editors’ Note.
The Civil War at 150: Memory and Meaning
The making of Civil War memory began not only after the war ended, but also in camps, on battlefields, and in homes across the nation as early as the spring of 1861. Officers wrote battle reports and soldiers jotted down diary entries, describing their experiences and shaping the war’s many histories. They picked up cotton bolls and shards of trees, bullets and buttons, and sent these souvenirs home as records of their wartime experiences. After 1865, veterans and their families pondered these relics and thought about their wartime experiences, telling stories and sharing memories of those who had fallen in battle. Continue reading
An anonymous comment in response to David Blight’s recent Fortenbaugh Lecture at Gettysburg College.
“In this enduring vision the United States was essentially born perfect and then continued its improvement.” — David Blight
The “tragedy” in US history seems to me to be embedded in its historiography: the repeated description of the immense human sacrifice to remove a deep stain from America’s past. This should have been more “effortless”, right? And on the way, those that had to remove the stain (not all that voluntarily) began to complain and the other side simply denied there ever was one. But in the end those that should have complained never got a voice until recently and only through the foggy interpretations of what slavery meant by focusing mainly on battlefields and where flanks of Union troops met Confederates, nothing of which even sheds a glimpse on the actual society in which slavery existed. Continue reading