Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission held its inaugural Signature Event on November 12 around the theme, “The Coming of the Civil War” in Chattanooga. According to Governor Phil Bredesen. “This inaugural event, which begins the five-year recognition from 2011-2015, will create conversation, stir interest, and help people develop a greater appreciation for history and acknowledge the role this war played in the lives of all Americans.” Historian, Sam David Elliott, gave the keynote address on the coming of the war and I suspect that he covered much of the ground found in the latest academic scholarship.
Interestingly, the commission also invited Country Music singer, Trace Adkins, to offer a few words.
I don’t know if I have a problem with inviting a singer to offer a few brief remarks about the coming of the war, but I do wonder how the organizers hope to reconcile Adkins’s personal view with what Elliott discussed and with the scholarly consensus on this topic. Perhaps these opposing views don’t need to be accepted, but I suspect that the applause at the end of Adkins’s remarks suggests that most of the people left with his thoughts in mind as opposed to Elliott’s.
Actually, now that I think about it I do hope that the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission doesn’t choose to invite Williamsburg’s Bruce Hornsby or Charlottesville’s Dave Matthews to the next Signature Conference to discuss Confederate war strategy.