Civil War Memory 101 (Week 9)

This discussion will take place on twitter on May 24 at 8pm. #CWM101

Welcome to the final week of our discussion about Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation. This week we will discuss chapter 9, which explores some of the most iconic moments in Civil War memory, including the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial and the 50th anniversary reunion at Gettysburg. Janney does an excellent job of exploring how national and international events shaped the ways in which the wartime generation continued to commemorate the war and the fragility of reconciliation. The chapter also reveals why, in the hands of a new generation of Americans, the Lost Cause continued to thrive even as the Union cause receded in national memory.

Dedication of Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery, 1914

I want to thank all of you who have taken part in this little social media experiment. This has proven to be one of the highlights of the week for me and a very enjoyable distraction during this quarantine. Your enthusiastic response has given me a lot of ideas about next steps. Stay tuned.

Reading Questions

  • How does Janney explain the gradual dimensioning of the Union cause in Civil War memory by the beginning of the twentieth century?
  • Why did Confederate veterans and white southerners generally reject a “jubilee” to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war at Appomattox?
  • How and why did Reconstruction fit into Confederate memory in the early twentieth century?
  • How did the Lost Cause narrative change in the fifty years following the end of the war?
  • In what ways did Northern historians and the broader culture reinforce the Lost Cause of the early twentieth century?
  • Why challenges did both the UCV and SUV face in mobilizing younger generations to carry on their respective fights over Civil War memory?
  • Why did the UCV eventually prove more successful in mobilizing younger Americans to “accept control of the Lost Cause”?
  • How did generational differences shape the debate about what kind of memorial to Lincoln should be placed on the National Mall?
  • What did African Americans want to see in a proposed Lincoln Memorial and how did the ongoing controversy surrounding lynchings and racial violence shape their attitudes toward it?
  • Where does the Lincoln Memorial fit in Janney’s understanding of Civil War memory?
  • Why, according to Janney, did a proposed Peace Monument at Appomattox fail?
  • It’s easy to see why GONE WITH THE WIND proved so popular with white southern audiences, but why, according to Janney, was it embraced in other parts of the nation?

Further Reading

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

2 comments… add one
  • Patrick Young May 27, 2020 @ 3:57

    How do you feel it went? I participated in six of the weekly Twitter discussions and enjoyed them.

    • Kevin Levin May 27, 2020 @ 5:12

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks so much for the feedback. I thought it went really well. Having Carrie attend the sessions was a real bonus and I think the participants really appreciated having the opportunity to ask her questions. I am thinking about possible next moves. Stay tuned.

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