Tag Archives: American Civil War

The Redemption of Ulysses S. Grant

20 Jun

Every now and then a past American president undergoes a radical change in historical reputation. The starkest case was probably that of Harry Truman who was single-handedly rehabilitated twenty-five years ago by David McCullough’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography. By contrast, Thomas Jefferson has had rough innings recently at the hands of liberal historians who once lauded him but now focus on his long, profitable—and mealy-mouthed—entanglement with slavery.

The latest candidate for redemption is Ulysses S. Grant. The process has been underway for a couple decades already but surely has hit full stride now, courtesy of America’s favorite biographer, Ron Chernow. Also a Pulitzer winner for his work on George Washington and a prime source for the endlessly popular stage musical, Hamilton …

So begins historian James Bratt’s review of Chernow’s biography of U.S. Grant. You may read the rest of the review at the Twelve here.

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Review of Robert J. Cook‘s “Civil War Memories, Contesting the Past Since 1865”

9 Apr

The current fight over removing Confederate monuments and the disturbing popularity for waving confederate flags at white supremacist rallies has attracted tremendous news media attention. The public demonstration of support for the Confederacy is not a new phenomenon, however, but rather the latest skirmish in a 150-year old struggle between competing “historical memories” about the Civil War, according to a new book by historian Robert J. Cook, Civil War Memories, Contesting the Past Since 1865.

According to Cook, a professor of history at the University of Sussex in Great Britain, and the author of two previous books on the Civil War, “As one would expect of such a divisive event, no single ‘memory’ of the Civil War has ever existed.”

So begins James Thornton Harris’ fascinating review of Cook’s Civil War Memories. You may read the rest of the review here.

Q: “Sir, would you like a history of this monument?” A: “F**k You!”

22 Mar

Members of Historians for a Better Future planned to encounter many personalities along the sidewalk when we set up in front of the Women of the Confederacy monument at the State Capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 8, 2017. During our Free History Lesson, we stood holding banners connecting the monument to white supremacy and passing out histories. When one of our educators approached a passerby with an offer of a free historical brochure, he received a decided “F**k you.” But other educators reported finding common ground with most individuals, and some pedestrians expressed encouragement. Motorists used horns and hand gestures to express disappointment or support for our work. Such a range of responses not only indicate the charged climate for public dialogue about history, but also how, in this volatile time, education looks very much like protest.

To read the rest of the report from Historians for a Better Future at the National Council for Public History site, click here.

How Pumpkin Pie Sparked a 19th-Century Culture War

23 Nov

 

Thanksgiving in Union camp sketched on 28 November 1861, believed to be the camp of General Louis Blenker.

Thanksgiving in Union camp sketched on 28 November 1861, believed to be the camp of General Louis Blenker. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/ LC-DIG-PPMSCA-21210

Although meant to unify people, the 19th-century campaign to make Thanksgiving a permanent holiday was seen by prominent Southerners as a culture war. They considered it a Northern holiday intended to force New England values on the rest of the country. To them, pumpkin pie, a Yankee food, was a deviously sweet symbol of anti-slavery sentiment.

So notes Ariel Knoebel in her engaging post at Atlas Obscura. You can read her entire post here.

 

 

Papers of Ulysses S. Grant Now Online

11 Oct

The Library of Congress has put the papers of Ulysses S. Grant online for the first time in their original format at https://www.loc.gov/collections/ulysses-s-grant-papers/about-this-collection/.The Library holds a treasure trove of documents from the Civil War commander and 18th president of the United States, including personal correspondence, “headquarters records” created during the Civil War and the original handwritten manuscript of Grant’s memoir— regarded as one of the best in history—among other items. The collection totals approximately 50,000 items dating from 1819-1974, with the bulk falling in the period 1843-1885.The collection includes general and family correspondence, speeches, reports, messages, military records, financial and legal records, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, memorabilia and other papers. The collection relates to Grant’s service in the Mexican War and Civil War, his pre-Civil War career, and …

Source: Papers of Ulysses S. Grant Now Online | Library of Congress

Battle of Antietam – Sep 17, 1862

17 Sep

 

On this day in History, Battle of Antietam on Sep 17, 1862. Learn more about what happened today on History.com: Battle of Antietam – Sep 17, 1862 – HISTORY.com

Witnessing a Rally for a Brand-New Confederate Monument

30 Aug

Alexis Okeowo, a black woman, reflects at the New Yorker on her attending the rally for a new Confederate monument: Witnessing a Rally for a Brand-New Confederate Monument | The New Yorker

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