The above is a link to a NewsHour piece about the difference between public and scholarly opinion on the causes of the Civil War. They discuss why the difference exists, and cover many of the reasons that we have discussed this semester in class.
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The above is a link to a list of presentations about the memory of Lincoln and the war, as portrayed through photographs. They are recordings of the original presentation themsleves played over the power points that were used. Some of them are more concerned with showing others how to teach than teaching themselves, but they are all relevant at certain points.
Ride With the Devil, set mostly in Missouri, follows two friends who join a band of pro-South irregulars after the start of the Civil War. One, Jake, is the poor son of a German immigrant and the other, Jack, is the son of a slain Missouri landowner. They are eventually joined by a former slave owner whose one time slave, Holt, has stayed by his side and fights with him. The early part of the film is focused on their run ins with Union soldiers and sympathizers, and sounds some reconciliationist themes. The latter part of the film, after Jake has been wounded, and Holt’s owner and Jack have been killed, concentrates on Jake’s developing friendship with Holt during his convalescence. Jake then settles down into a family life while Holt plans his future. After the war ends, and Holt is officially free, he rides off on his own, probably to Texas, to find his mother, whom he believes was sold to someone living there.
The emancipationist take on the war, which has become increasingly prevalent in the past couple of decades, is certainly present here. Soldiers of both North and South go into battle expecting the war to determine the fate of slavery. “Abolitionist” is an epithet used with about the same frequency as “Yankee.” When they attack Lawrence, Kansas, it is because it is supposedly full of abolitionists that need to be taught a lesson. When Holt rides off at the end of the film, he confidently wears gun in plain sight, because things are different now. There are not, though, thankfully, any faithful slaves. After his former owner has been killed, it is expected by Jake that Holt followed him because he was his friend. But as Holt says, being his master’s friend was really no different than being his slave, and that he was actually glad that he was killed. The film could have made more effort to be historically accurate in its portryal of the mindset of the war’s participants, but is a positive step forward in its portrayal of slaves whose status hovers somewhere between free and not free. Frankie Faison’s character in Gods and Generals was not so positive.
The two above links go to civil war songs. The first link has a greater variety, but the second has better sound quality and instrumentation. I actually can’t verify that they are all indeed “Civil War Songs”, but the sites at least claim that they are.
The video above is of an interview with Ken Burns on why he chose to make a documentary about the Civil War. Essentially what he says is that it was so important, and so present on people’s minds, that it had permeated every subject he had done up until then, and so he felt like it was a film that had to be made.
A discussion about the flag’s similarity to the swastika from a website catering to English speakers in Germany. Interesting if only for foreign perspectives (mostly British) on the similarity, as well as a few German ones. The only real problem with it is the same as any website discussing America in English; there are quite a few Americans making comments. I have tried to find similar discussions in other non-American English language forums, but they inevitably devolve into an argument between Northern and Southern Americans.
The Mississippi SCV want to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, which, not suprisingly, has made some people angry. But, like with most of this stuff in southern states, the local politicians can only tiptoe around it, even with a figure as polarizing as Forrest. It also relates to the way in which blacks have been in many ways disassociated from the memory of the war. The honoring of Forrest has attracted only about the same amount of attention as the honoring of people who didn’t massacre black troops and go on to become leaders in the KKK.
Above is one of Optic’s books. It’s kind of goofy by today’s standards. It’s also suprisingly boring; the experience is a little bit like sitting through Gods and Generals without any of the battle scenes.
The involvement of the NAACP in our readings got me wondering what they were planning for the 150th anniversary of the war. Not only are they planning to protest the Lost Cause stuff, but are using those events to draw attention to issues that have little to nothing to do with the war. It’s interesting to me the way this stuff still resonates people across such a broad spectrum.
A fairly extensive profile of a couple of books in the New Yorker. The issue is similar to those to be discussed tomorrow; the scale of death and the way that regular people as well as soldiers chose to remember it.