In about a week I will submit a completed manuscript to Rowman & Littlefield for my edited collection, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, which will appear in their Interpreting History series. I am relieved to finally be bringing this project to a close, but it is one that was made very easy owing to the commitment and hard work of my authors. Continue reading
I am getting ahead of myself, but over the past few days I’ve been thinking about writing a short book on the Civil War sesquicentennial once I finish my book on the Black Confederate myth. I covered so much of the sesquicentennial on my blog that it would be a shame for it to remain there without trying to work it up into a narrative that has a bit more analytical depth. It would be a concise book around 150 pages. This is not the first time that I have thought about such a book, but now seems like an opportune moment to take it on. Continue reading
Much of my writing about the Civil War 150th is framed around a sharp contrast with how Americans commemorated the war in the early 1960s, during the Centennial. There can be no doubt that we have witnessed significant shifts in how Americans remember and commemorate the war. The most significant shift has got to be in our willingness to deal directly with the tough questions of slavery and race from the Civil War era. But in going back 50 years I wonder if I have given short thrift to a more recent milestone. Continue reading
Some of you who are interested in the question of how to evaluate the Civil War sesquicentennial may find the following panel discussion worth your time. The panel is from a conference that took place in Virginia over the summer and was filmed by C-SPAN. You will see some familiar faces. It should come as no surprise that the events in Charleston and the subsequent debate about the Confederate flag occupied a good deal of attention and it was interesting to hear how different people are thinking through some of these difficult issues.
My only concern is that at one point mid-way through the discussion, the topic of the vandalism of Civil War monuments appeared to be framed in terms of how whites and blacks think about and remember the Confederacy. The implicit assumption at work seems to be that African Americans are responsible for the defacing of Civil War monuments. I have yet to see any evidence suggesting that African Americans are more likely than whites to vandalize Confederate monuments.
Yes, a number of Confederate monuments have been spray-painted with “Black Lives Matter,” but regardless of what you think about the organization, it could just as likely have been carried out by a white individual. It’s time we move beyond this tired trope.
The Holidays are a time to share those things that we are grateful for and in the spirit of this blog, and with the end of the sesquicentennial looming ahead, I want to express my gratitude and thanks to Cheryl Jackson. Cheryl is the executive director of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission. In my mind no one has worked harder to highlight this important anniversary. Continue reading
Yesterday the New York Times published a piece by Alan Blinder on Southern memory of Sherman’s March and the new marker commemorating its 150th anniversary. The article pretty much raises the same questions about our Civil War memory in the South as other events during the sesquicentennial. The theme of the article is struggle. White Southerners are supposedly struggling with how to commemorate and remember Sherman’s presence in Georgia in 1864, but what emerges by the end is how little resistance there seems to be. In short, the author overstates his case. Continue reading
Last week I learned of the retirement of long time Robert E. Lee impersonator, Al Stone. Mr. Stone plans on using the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House as the backdrop for his final performance. I’ve noticed an uptick in stories from around the country that plan on using this particular anniversary as the final roll call for local reenactments. Check out this story from Keokuk, Iowa. Not too long ago I read that a large group of veteran reenactors was going to lay down its arms for good at Appomattox in April 2015. Continue reading
On July 20, 2014 the city of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ransoming and burning of the city by Confederate forces. This is not the first time that the city has engaged in such a remembrance. It looks like a tasteful commemoration that will likely both educate and bring together the community in and around Chambersburg.
[Uploaded to YouTube on April 12, 2014]