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Memory and the Legacy of the Civil War

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Leslie Schwalm

on 24 October 2017

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Transcript of Memory and the Legacy of the Civil War

Public Memory and the Legacy of the Civil War
Robert Penn Warren
Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War.
African Americans were "faithful slaves," loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom.
The Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources.
Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly.
The most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee.
Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones.
The Lost Cause:
...the meaning of the war?
What the war resolved?
What the consequences & legacy of the war are?
Why we still memorialize the war?
Turn of the century postcard
ALA. Ladies Memorial Association
What is public, or collective, memory?
What is the geography of public memory?
In what physical and symbolic spaces is public memory created & sustained?
Our relationship with a shared past
The subject of remembering AND forgetting
Shaped by current needs and concerns
highly selective and contested
easily mobilized to serve partisan interests
easily commercialized (tourist & nostalgia industries)
invoked both to resist change and as an agent of change
critical to national, group, and individual identity
can give pleasure for aesthetic and non-utilitarian purposes (not always instrumental)
How is public memory produced & sustained?

sanctification (sacred space)
designation (marked space but not consecrated)
rectification (restore sites of trauma or violence to "normalcy")
obliteration (eliminate site of shame)
Film
Holidays
Reunions
Monuments
Public Parks
Memoir & Magazine Culture
Ritual
Oral histories
Obituaries
The Romance of the Old South
Film
Holidays
Reunions
Monuments
Public Parks
Memoir and Magazine Culture
Ritual
While scholarly histories of the Civil War proliferate, they are far less impactful on Americans than a shared (if contested) public memory of the war. What does the public memory of the war tell us about....
A Legacy of Loss or Gain?
2011 Pew research poll:
56% of Americans: The Civil War is important to political life today
48% of Americans: the war was about states' rights (younger respondents)
38%: the war was about slavery (older respondents)
"The Great Alibi"
"The Treasury of Virtue"
Winkler, Ernest William, ed. Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas 1861, Edited From the Original in the Department of State.... Austin: Texas Library and Historical Commission, 1912, pp. 61-65.


We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the Confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.


Eva B. Long, president of the Texas division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy but speaking as a “concerned Texan” and not for the organization, told the Statesman last month that she hopes the plaque stays, calling it an important piece of Texas history.
2017: Texas state legislators ask state historic preservation commission to remove this plaque
Charlottesville, VA
Protestors pull down a Confederate Statue outside county courthouse in Durham, NC

To honor the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States.
To protect, preserve and mark the places made historic by Confederate valor.
To collect and preserve the material for a truthful history of the War Between the States.
To record the part taken by Southern women in patient endurance of hardship and patriotic devotion during the struggle and in untiring efforts after the War during the reconstruction of the South.
To fulfill the sacred duty of benevolence toward the survivors and toward those dependent upon them.
To assist descendants of worthy Confederates in securing proper education.
To cherish the ties of friendship among the members of the Organization.

The 1919 organizing objectives of the Daughters of the Confederacy
UDC Monument at Arlington National Cemetery, unveiled by President Wilson in 1914 on birthday of Jefferson Davis
858 of 1503 monuments
Lee Monument, Richmond, 1925.
Texas Declaration of causes for secession, February 2, 1861

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.”
Confederate Holidays
What should be done with Confederate monuments?
Remove them?
Tar and feather them?
Cover them up?
Replace them with new public art?
Reinterpret them?
The Confederate Memorial Landscape:
Civil War History and Public Memory
Leslie Schwalm

Repurposing the Taney monument after removal
Remembering is also forgetting
Black men and women protest the romanticization of slavery
2015: Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate battle flag at the Columbia, SC statehouse
Out of the Lost Cause:
Kentucky-born poet, essayist, Pulitzer-prize winning author, once a defender of the South's agrarian ideal and racial segregation but transformed into an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s
1961 Civil War Centennial:
Robert Penn Warren
"The Great Alibi"
"The Treasury of Virtue"
Kentucky-born poet, essayist, Pulitzer-prize winning author, once a defender of the South's agrarian ideal and racial segregation but transformed into an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s
1961 Civil War Centennial:
Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War.
African Americans were "faithful slaves," loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom.
The Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources.
Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly.
The most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee.
Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones.
The Lost Cause:
The Romance of the Old South
Out of the Lost Cause:
Uncle Tom's Cabin: Dangerous to White Children and Race Relations, ca. 1902
Iowa UCT Parade
Reconciliation: 1913 Gettysburg Reunion--
No Black Soldiers Allowed
The Confederate Memorial Landscape today
Richmond, 1890: Unveiling Lee Monument
Confederate Monuments
The Women of the UDC
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