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We have had some discussion in class about the “commercialization” of Civil War sites. What is the best way to remember these sites? It was even argued that the memorials on the Civil War battlefield may be considered intrusive to the importance of the area. I argue that commercialization and tourism do have a place in commemorating these sites, but it must be done in a way that is respectful to the memory of the site.  Memorials to Civil War battlefields throughout the South have been placed there as to create a significant historical moment that can be captured only at its birthplace.  This has more meaning to the inhabitants of the area, the ones who keep this history alive. However, this does not make it significant to many Americans in the 21st century.  How do we as historians reach this large body of Americans that are disinterested in history from our own back yard? I know that as an American History teacher it is difficult to keep a student’s attention when it comes to anything about history. I believe in this case, using new ways to utilize history are perfectly acceptable.

One innovative way to bring Civil War history to the forefront for many people may be in the way that I just read about in “Civil War Interactive: BlueGrayDaily.”  It discusses a tour of Gettysburg by horseback. This way many get to see Gettysburg as very few people do, without the accompaniment of tour busses or throngs of tourists. The tours are led by a “licensed battlefield guide” (?) through the rehabilitated field. Even this description of the field describes a commercialized area.[1]  What better way to get to know a place intimately than to travel over it and learn kinesthetically.   The “BlueGrayDaily” also discusses the Museum of the Confederacy is opening a new building that will house more artifacts. This is a way to bring people to Appomattox and increase tourism for the town.[2]  In this way, the town and the museum use tourism to increase the exposure to important history.

We have tried to understand the importance of these monuments as part of history. I believe that their importance has evolved from preserving a moment in history, to exposing history to many people that would not normally be a part of it. In this case, the Civil War and its availability in our own back yard must not be ignored.


[1] “Gettysburg on horseback takes riders back in time,” posted on June 20, 2012, http://bluegraydaily.com/?p=9222, accessed on June 21, 2012.

[2]“New Museum Offers Economic Growth for Appomattox,” posted October 27,2011, http://bluegraydaily.com/?cat=43 accessed on June 21, 2012.

While reading Dixie’s Daughters by Karen L. Cox, she discusses briefly the role of women suffragists within the UDC, but at the same time eludes that many women were involved in the suffragist movement in chapter three, “Rise of the UDC.”[1] Not having much knowledge regarding feminism in the South after the Civil War, I decided to commit myself to finding out just how involved women of the South were in obtaining the right to vote, while upholding their Lost Cause ideology. In the Journal of Southern History, the article “Kate Gordon and the Woman-Suffrage Movement of the South,” by Kenneth Johnson gives a brief history of the role southern women played.

Southern women faced greater challenges in obtaining equal rights than their northern counterparts and had to approach it with even greater tact. In order to appeal to the southern men and maintain their Lost Cause crusade, southern women had to circumvent ways around a federal amendment. The Lost Cause was still very much in motion during 1912-1913, when women became more involved in their rights.[2]

The women of the South had to devise a plan that would placate their male politicians and simultaneously ensure their equality. There were two ways to obtain this: one join the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) on a federal level or two create a new association that upheld states’ rights and obtain their equality at a state level.[3] Southerner Kate Gordon, would take the lead in creating a new organization known as the Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference (SSWSC) their ultimate objective was to, “’to obtain the enfranchisement of the women of the Southern States principally through the medium of state legislation and to promote the cause of suffrage throughout the United States’”.[4]

With two leading women’s rights organizations tensions began to rise between the NAWSA and SSWSC. The NAWSA or northern women’s suffragist organization believed that there were other ways to obtain equal rights (not through states’ rights) for women in the South. Kate Gordon now president of the SSWSC disagreed, even suggesting that the NAWSA was trying to promote reconstruction instead of women’s rights. In addition members of the SSWSC wanted to disenfranchise blacks.[5] Not all women of the South were part of the SSWSC, another party existed, known as the moderate southern suffragists, these women were members of the NAWSA.[6]

In keeping with the white supremacy reign of the South the women of the SSWSC had to ensure that while they promoted equal rights for women they did not condone equality for blacks. According to Cole, “Miss Gordon asserted that intelligent white women should be able to use the same means to protect themselves from colored women as the southern men used to protect themselves from colored men.”[7] This was part of the rhetoric in addition to maintaining states’ rights over federal control that the SSWSC hoped would appeal to democrat politicians in the South.

The SSWSC, especially in the beginning maintained a large membership but it became clear to many women that the SSWSC while honorable in maintaining the Lost Cause was not going to acquire equal rights. The democratic politicians had turned their back on the women who so valiantly restored their masculinity. In the end the SSWSC’s relentless pursuit to gain women’s equality through state’s rights, lack of support from democratic politicians, desire to disenfranchise blacks, and lack of members subsequently dismantled the organization. States’ rightists still carried on their devotion to the obtaining women’s rights without giving up the principles of the Lost Cause but they too in the end were defeated when the nineteenth amendment was ratified in 1920.


[1] Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (New Perspectives On the History of the South) (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003), 33.

[2] Kenneth R. Johnson, “Kate Gordon and the Woman-Suffrage Movement in the South,” The Journal of Southern History 38, no. 3 (1972), 369 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2206099 (accessed June 21, 2012).

[3] Johnson, 370.

[4] Johnson, 371.

[5] Johnson, 372.

[6] Johnson, 373.

[7] Johnson, 374.

In reviewing the book, The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration by Thomas J. Brown, I became very intrigued with the preservation of Confederate culture in the form of monuments. This led my curiosity to look for more images of Confederate monuments that I would consider being grand in scale. I performed a simple Google search on “Huge Confederate Monument” and it resulted in me finding an image of Stone Mountain, Georgia. From here I decided to perform a search on “Stone Mountain, Georgia” and found the website for Stone Mountain Park.

Stone Mountain – Georgia

Once on the Stone Mountain Park website, I was shocked to find out that this Confederate monument was not just the largest bas-relief in the World that I had come to know, but had now become a twisted version of Disneyland meets the Ku Klux Klan. The website states, “Serious fun. Endless adventure. It’s all waiting for you at Georgia’s #1 attraction. Just 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta and home to the world’s largest piece of exposed granite, this natural wonderland offers 3,200 acres of excitement for every member of the family. A mountain of memories awaits you.* I was shocked because I had just recently read that “Thirty-five-year-old William Simmons, an organizer and insurance salesman for a fraternal society, linked this initiative to the local excitement over director D. W. Griffiths’ enormously influential film Birth of a Nation (1915), in which the rise of the Ku Klux Klan enabled ex-Confederates to regain control of the South and effect a sectional reconciliation cemented by white supremacism. On Thanksgiving night in 1915, Simmons led sixteen men, including the owner of Stone Mountain, to the crest of the monolith to reestablish the Ku Klux Klan by the light of a burning cross. Stone Mountain thereby became sacred ground to the Klan at the same time that Borglum’s project benefited from the national veneration of Lee.”** And now here I was browsing at a website that was promoting this KKK holy land as a theme park to the masses.

KKK member in similar pose as Mickey in image below.

Mickey Mouse just needs needs to bleach his apparel.

 
I immediately began to wonder, if the people who had developed this theme park and the accompanying website had really believed that it was fun for the whole family? And if so, what families? White families, I would have to guess. Because I have a hard time believing that a black family would have the same wonderful experience, given the sites true history. This I feel, even with all of the additional attractions that have been added to Stone Mountain Park, such as the Summit Skyride, Sky Hike, Yogi Bear 4-D Adventure at the 4-D Theatre, Geyser Towers, and the self touted Atlanta tradition of the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision.***
 
Oddly, the website didn’t seem to have any historic information about what the site actually is, an extravagant monument that was built to honor the memory of the Confederacy and their ideals. In a twist of irony, it did however claim to have the best Fourth of July fireworks display in all of Atlanta.****But then again, they did refrain from the use the term Independence Day. 
 
In closure, I believe that all of the above mentioned attractions that have been added over the years to Stone Mountain were actually added to distract from the sites true and disturbing history and that it is just another example of a Lost Cause fantasy.      
 
 

*Stone Mountain Park, “Things to Do”

http://www.stonemountainpark.com/attractions-shows/attractions.aspx (accessed June 21, 2012)

** Thomas J. Brown, The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration: A Brief History with Documents (Boston:Bedford /St. Martin’s, 2004) 102. 

***Stone Mountain Park, “Things to Do”

http://www.stonemountainpark.com/attractions-shows/attractions.aspx (accessed June 21, 2012)

****Stone Mountain Park, “Festivals and Events”

http://festivals.stonemountainpark.com/mini-section/default.aspx?id=37 (accessed June 21, 2012)

In reading Dixie’s Daughters by Karen Cox I became interested in not only the United Daughters of the Confederacy but of other Lost Cause driven organizations and their use of media to promote the Lost Cause. The Lost Cause has had more history written about it than any other aspect of the Civil War. While thinking about this, I simply used Google to see if some of the organizations are still around today and what they stand for.

If you Google the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it takes you to a website that automatically plays a message from a Confederate soldier (or so he claims) and states that too many today people today are spreading lies of reasons why the soldiers of the south went to war, states that the Confederacy went to war to fight for its future generations, and asks to help promote the heritage that southerners feel by joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans. If you are a descendant of a southern who served in the military and can prove it (the website has convenient links to help you find the proof they need), you’re in. On the about section of the webpage, you find that if you are a member, you get a subscription to the magazine Confederate Veteran and are eligible to receive scholarships and grants for post-secondary education.[1] There is a research section of the website, which can take you to the SCV’s education papers, written and published by the SCV. One such document describes African-Americans service on both sides of the war, but pays particular attention to blacks that served in the Confederacy.[2] I have added a link to the document here, so you can judge for yourself if it is self-promoting propaganda or not.

The SCV has a Facebook page, and has nearly nine thousand followers and a Twitter, which has nearly 450 followers. On the other side of the coin, if you Google the SCV’s northern counterpart, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and it would appear that there are similarities between both the SCV and the SUVCW, they both grant scholarships. Though it would appear that this membership is not as great as that of the SCV (I was unable to locate numbers of members for both organizations) but if we are to judge off of Facebook and twitter, as we did earlier, the numbers are easy to compare. Fewer than two thousand people like their Facebook page, and they do not have a twitter page and no one is talking about the organization, unlike its southern counterpart. They also do not have as strict guidelines for becoming a member, and no perks like receiving a bi-monthly magazine.[3]

The differences of these two groups are amazing. They both set out to do the same thing, commemorate their fathers and grandfathers of the War, but it seems the SCV is still going strong, while the SUVCW has fallen off the wayside. What, if anything, does this say about the Lost Cause and its teachings about the Civil War even 150 years after the war ended?


[1] The Sons of Confederate Veterans, “What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” http://www.scv.org/whatis.php [accessed on June 21,2012].

[2] The Sons of Confederate Veterans Education Committee, “Black History Month:  Black Confederate Heritage,” Sons of Confederate Veterans. http://www.scv.org/documents/edpapers/blackhistory.pdf [accessed on June 21,2012].

[3] The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, “Membership Eligibility and Application,” http://suvcw.org/member.htm [accessed on June 21, 2012].

As we have studied, the basis for the Civil War was rooted in the practice of slavery and the desire of some states to see the practice continue and other states seeing slavery as a threat. One of our recent readings in class discussed how the National Park Service including a focus on slavery appalled many Southern White Americans.[1] Many white southerners believe that Confederate Battlefields should be devoted to the living memory of those that lost their lives in the Civil War and furthering the “Lost Cause” myth. In the reading, one common fear of white southerners is that political correctness is out of control and that they do not desire to learn about slavery while they are visiting a Civil War Battlefield and Memorial.[2] I thought I would learn more about this controversy and found the following video posted on cwmemory.com.[3]  In the following video, park rangers discuss the cause of the Civil War and the challenges they face in introducing the causes of the Civil War on Civil War Battlefields.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrFtW3AouOc&feature=player_embedded

Many of the park rangers feel that interpreting the reasons for the Civil War and conveying them to park visitors is an important tool in understanding the memory of why these soldiers fought each other and died. Some have even given ideas in which the two sides of this controversy can resolve their issues. In trying to come up with a resolution to this issue, we discussed two resolutions in class. One resolution was that having museums devoted to separate studies would alleviate the issue. Those that wanted to focus on slavery would be able to visit a slavery museum. While those that wanted to focus on the battles would visit one of the many historic Civil War battlefields. A separate resolution was that museums should have exhibits devoted to all types of history. Those that visited any given museum would see a wide range of exhibits ranging from the Civil War to slavery. With this in mind,  I recently came across an article about a proposed Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg sponsored by L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American Governor in United States History.[4] This proposed museum is having numerous financial and legal issues and may not be finished.

http://www2.wsls.com/news/2012/jun/21/fredericksburg-questions-slavery-museums-reorganiz-ar-2000798/

After reading the article, the situation in Fredericksburg is looking rather bleak. Does this knowledge add impetus in having a combined museum for the South? Alternatively, should there still be separate museums for Slavery and the Civil War?


[1] Dwight T. Pitcaithley, “A Cosmic Threat: The National Park Service Addresses the Causes of the American Civil War”, In Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory, ed. James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton,168-186. [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006], 174-175.

[2] Pitcaithley, 175.

[3] “NPS Talks Slavery and Battlefield Interpretation”, Civil War Memory, April 13, 2011, http://cwmemory.com/2011/04/13/nps-talks-slavery-and-battlefield-interpretation/ [Accessed on June 21, 2012]

[4] Steve Szkotak, “U.S. Slavery Museum revises Dept Plan”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 21, 2012, http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/jun/21/fredericksburg-questions-slavery-museums-reorganiz-ar-2000798// [Accessed on June 21, 2012]

I grew up in New Orleans and returned to the Gulf Coast for a tour of duty at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS.  I am very familiar with Beauvoir House and can picture Beach Boulevard and the plethora of historic homes clearly in my mind’s eye.  Unfortunately at the time, however, I did not appreciate the historical value of Beauvoir House and thus never toured the site.  When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in August 2005 I prayed for the cities and friends that still lived there (I had moved to Colorado in 2000) and watched helplessly as the news crews showed the destruction of the places that I knew so well.  Turning at the last minute, ever so slightly, Katrina directed her fury at Biloxi, MS which sustained the worst damage from the storm.  Beauvoir House is located within walking distance of the Gulf shore.  While the main house and the Presidential Library suffered severe damage, they survived.  Five other buildings on the property were decimated.[1]

Beauvoir House was once the retirement home of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  The house was originally built in 1851 by James Brown, a Mississippi plantation owner.  Because of the sand mixed into soil, it was deemed infertile and the property was never turned into a plantation.[2]  When Brown died in 1873, the house was sold to Sarah Dorsey, a long time friend of the Davis family.  Three years later, when Jefferson Davis was visiting the Gulf Coast looking for a place to retire and write his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Davis visited Dorsey who offered to let him stay at Beauvoir House in one of the cottages for $50.00 a month.  Several years later, when she found she was dying of cancer, Sarah Dorsey offered to sell the entire property to Davis for $5500, over the course of three payments.  The first payment was made, but Dorsey died before the remaining could be made.  In an act of goodwill, Davis used the remaining balance to pay off the debts incurred against the Dorsey estate.[3]

The Davis family lived at Beauvoir House until Jefferson Davis’ death in 1889.  Davis had bequeathed the house to his daughter, Winnie.  When Winnie died in 1898, the house was left to Jefferson Davis’s widow.  Just five years later, the property was sold to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans under the condition that it be used to create a Confederate soldiers’ home under the care of the state, with the main house established as a memorial to her late husband.[4]  From 1903 until the last two Confederate widows left in 1957, Beauvoir House operated under the conditions established by Mrs. Jefferson Davis.  The state constructed twelve barracks with six rooms per building for the soldiers and their wives for a total of 288 beds.[5]

I am extremely relieved to find that restoration efforts have restored the main house and parts of the property to its original splendor and efforts continue to rebuild the rest.  Now that I appreciate its historical significance, I do not intend to miss another chance to tour Davis’ home.


[1] Lynda Lasswell Crist, “Beauvoir,” Mississippi History Now (June 2007).  http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/2804/beauvoir (accessed June 20, 2012).

[2] “History of Beauvoir.”  http://beauvoir.org/history.html (accessed June 20, 2012).

[3] “History of Beauvoir.”

[4] “History of Beauvoir.”

[5] “Beauvoir Confederate Soldier’s Home.”  http://beauvoir.org/vetshome.html (accessed June 20, 2012).

A significant part of Civil War memory in Western Missouri focuses on a localized version of the Lost Cause.  It is similar to the “mainstream” version of the Lost Cause, with some local nuance.  To commemorate local veterans, for example, the city of Nevada, MO (pronounced nuh-vay-duh), instead of a Confederate memorial, has a Bushwhacker Museum.  Bushwhackers, according to the museum’s website, mostly didn’t fight for slavery, because

[i]t was a matter of states’ rights for many, and for others, the reasons were dictated by personal hostilities. Perhaps for most, it was simply a matter of loyalties. If they left Virginia to settle in Missouri, their sympathies were probably still with the South. If their parents were abolitionists from Boston, they sided with the North.[1]

Also in Nevada, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored community festival is called “Bushwhacker Days,” and is held annually in early June.  At the festival, they crown “Bushwhacker Royalty,” tell the “Legends of our Flags,” and have a border raid reenactment.[2]

Nevada was in the part of Missouri that was affected by General Order No. 11.  This was an order issued in 1863 that was intended to remove areas where Bushwhackers found sanctuary in western Missouri.  It effectively depopulated three counties and part of a fourth, by requiring all residents to leave, except those who swore loyalty to the Union.  Those who did swear allegiance were permitted to move to within one mile of Union garrison towns.  The order was issued after a Bushwhacker raid on Lawrence, Kansas, which destroyed much of that city.  George Caleb Bingham, a Missouri artist, painted a somewhat famous picture depicting the effects of the order.  Anecdotally, I remember growing up hearing General Order No. 11 being compared to Sherman’s March to the Sea in terms of local destruction.[3]

Order No. 11 by George Caleb Bingham

As Karen Cox points out in Dixie’s Daughters, “the first group of women to call themselves ‘Daughters of the Confederacy’ was organized in a non-Confederate state, Missouri, in 1890.”[4]  These women helped a group dubbed the Confederate Home Association to found a Confederate Veterans Home in Higginsville, Missouri.  According to the Higginsville Chamber of Commerce, the women sold tickets for ten cents apiece, each one representing a brick in the proposed home.  Today the site is a State Historic Park.[5]  The Missouri State Department of Natural Resources’ web page about the Park has a list of over 1,600 men and women who applied to live in the home.  While many were denied, for lack of documentation of their service, I found one thing very interesting.  There were at least five men who were admitted without service in the Confederate army.  These five, at least, served with a band of irregular guerrillas, under William Quantrill.  I think this shows that the guerrillas were considered important, heroic even, to locals, although they were considered criminals during war time.[6]

[1] “Border War/Civil War Exhibit,” Vernon County Historical Society, 2010, accessed June 21, 2012, at http://www.bushwhacker.org/civil_war.php.

[2] “Bushwhacker Days Schedule of Events,” Nevada Chamber of Commerce, 2012, accessed June 21, 2012, at https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.bwdays.com/pdf/events.pdf.

[3] “Ewing Issues Order No. 11,” Missouri State Library, accessed June 21, 2012, at http://www.civilwaronthewesternborder.org/event/ewing-issues-order-no-11.

[4] Karen Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2003), 15.

[5] “Confederate Memorial Missouri State Historical Site,” Higginsville Chamber of Commerce, 2005, accessed June 21, 2012, at http://www.higginsvillechamber.org/memorial.aspx.

[6] “Applicants to the Confederate Home of Missouri,” Missouri Department of Natural Resources: Division of Parks, p. 19, 25, 29, 30, 38, accessed June 21, 2012, at https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/Applicants%20to%20the%20Confederate%20Home%20of%20Missouri.pdf.