Tag Archives: slavery

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.



14 Feb

Frederick Douglass portrait

This year’s Black History Month coincides with the 200th birthday of Douglass, and it’s an ideal occasion to rectify some unfortunate ways in which this influential writer has continued to be misrepresented and misunderstood—and not simply by the likes of Trump. Specifically, consider this famous quote that has been attributed to Douglass for decades: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

William Cheng offers a fine piece of historiography here about Douglass and a quote attributed to him. You may read his entire piece at the Pacific Standard here.

A disturbing new report on how poorly schools teach American slavery

5 Feb

Consider this from a disturbing new report on how U.S. schools teach — or, rather, don’t teach — students about the history of slavery in the United States:

  • Only 8 percent of U.S. high school seniors could identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War.
  • 68 percent of the surveyed students did not know that slavery formally ended only with an amendment to the Constitution.
  • Only 22 percent of the students could correctly identify how provisions in the Constitution gave advantages to slaveholders.
  • Only 44 percent of the students answered that slavery was legal in all colonies during the American Revolution.

These results are part of an unsettling new report titled “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” which was researched over the course of a year by the Teaching Tolerance project of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. The report includes results of surveys of U.S. high school seniors as well as social studies teachers in all grades — nationally representative of those populations — as well as an analysis of 15 state content standards, and a review of 10 popular U.S. history textbooks. The best textbook achieved a score of 70 percent against a rubric of what should be included in the study of American slavery; the average score was 46 percent.

So begins a Washington Post report by Valerie Strauss on how well the history of slavery is taught in U.S. high schools. You may read the rest of Strauss’ report here.


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

American Historical Association Statement on Confederate Monuments (August 2017)

30 Aug

The American Historical Association welcomes the emerging national debate about Confederate monuments. Much of this public statuary was erected without such conversations, and without any public decision-making process. Across the country, communities face decisions about the disposition of monuments and memorials, and commemoration through naming of public spaces and buildings. These decisions require not only attention to historical facts, including the circumstances under which monuments were built and spaces named, but also an understanding of what history is and why it matters to public culture.

Read the rest of the statement here: AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments (August 2017) | AHA

What Trump’s Generation Learned About the Civil War

30 Aug

Textbooks shape common understandings, and textbooks have a history. At The Atlantic, Matt Ford reports on U.S. history textbooks that shaped Trump and Clinton’s generation: What Trump’s Generation Learned About the Civil War – The Atlantic

The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee

29 Aug
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