Gone With the Wind to Lexington?

Who knows, but in the meantime check out the excellent Washington Post article on the Museum of the Confederacy by Neely Tucker.  From the article:

Today, while the Museum of the Confederacy goes begging, the brand-new, $13 million American Civil War Center — a museum that looks at the war from three perspectives (Southern, Northern and black) — is a gleaming testament to what might be called a more modern memory of the past. It’s only a few blocks away, on the banks of the James River at the city’s Civil War-era gun foundry, a National Park Service site.

It’s on an eight-acre campus — 10 times the size of the Museum of the Confederacy site. The center’s prime backers include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson. Just six months old, it’s already packed with school kids coming to learn about the Confederacy as a flawed participant in the Civil War, not as the Great Defender of (white) Southern Heritage.

You walk into the bookstore at the Museum of the Confederacy, then the one at the Civil War Center, and the first differences you notice are the black faces on the shelves in the latter: Nat Turner. "Slave Nation." Harriet Tubman. "Remembering Slavery." There were 4 million black people in the 11 slave-owning states at the start of the Civil War, and by war’s end, 500,000 had fled to the North — one out of every eight men, women and children — looking for something, anything, other than the genteel world of the gallant South.

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3 comments… add one
  • Jim Apr 5, 2007 @ 13:12

    Kevin, I simply want to know more about a museum that is well funded in close proximity to the struggling MOC, and by whom this museum was designed, and for what purpose. Does the ACWC cannabilize visitors to the MOC or does it complement it? If the former, then it was a bad decision to locate it in Richmond. I would appreciate you educating me as to why it was located there?

    Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, it seems appropriate to have a place like the MOC tell its history from a uniquely southern view. This may seem threatening to some who neither understand nor want to understand a native regional view of the war, but it is necessary nonetheless for the preservation of regional character. This should be interpreted as being no different than how Quebec is unique from other parts of Canada, or how Bavaria is unique compared to the rest of Germany.

    Also, I don’t know what you mean by Foote being a “storyteller”, but I am currently reading his American Civil War set which is non-fiction and has been described as factually accurate. So, if using narratives of actual CW participants is storytelling, then yes, Foote is a storyteller.

    Do you believe that those who have the majority of resources in a society legislate and direct social policy for their advantage? If so, then you may understand why I want to know more about any disdain for the MOC and the advocacy of this new museum.

    And I still wonder what “flawed participant” means in the WP article.

  • Kevin Levin Apr 4, 2007 @ 18:09

    Your first intuition about the location of the CW Center is way off the mark. What could you possibly mean by asking for “someone more in line with Shelby Foote”? James McPherson served as an advisor to the museum along with just about every notable scholar currently working in the field. Foote was a storyteller and not a historian. What qualifications do you suppose Foote had that would qualify him as an advisor. Rather than be “wary of this group’s intentions” how about not holding any view since you obviously no nothing about this museum or its origins.

  • Jim Apr 4, 2007 @ 18:00

    I will be deeply saddened if Richmond and VA and the South do not save the MOC. Who decides what history is told? Who decides how it is told? How would the soldiers want it told? And I wonder how Richmond was chosen as the spot of the American CW Center? I looked at the board members, and my first intuition is that its location is to intentionally compete with the MOC. And McPherson?…couldn’t they find someone more in line with Shelby Foote for a museum in the South? Until I learn more, I am going to be wary of this group’s intentions. Maybe it is the CW Center that should be moved…

    And can anyone explain what is meant by “flawed participant”?

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