Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History Post- Civil War Lost Cause Myth  CSPAN  April 15, 2018 12:00am-1:00am EDT

12:00 am
of the constitution is written. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all of our video is archived. that is >> next on lectures in history, university of west georgia professor keith bohannon teaches a class about what is known as the lost cause myth, the term given to the post-civil war arguments by former confederates seeking to justify the split from the union and their defeat. his class is about one hour. prof. bohannon: in recent years, there have been a number of terrible events, including a church ining an ame charleston, south carolina in 2015, then this past summer we all heard about, watched, the protest in charlottesville that resulted in several deaths.
12:01 am
these terrible incidents have prompted a new phase in a national debate regarding symbols of the southern confederacy, and the most recent focus has been largely on public arguments and their fate. -- public monuments and their fate. this is a debate that as you all know, often stirs strong emotions and strong rhetoric. i think it is important that historians be involved in the debate, that we help provide context to the discussion, especially helping people understand the mythology of the lost cause. that will be the topic of today's lecture, the lost cause.
12:02 am
it is a reference to the way that, particularly white southerners over generations, tried to interpret and remember and commemorate the short-lived southern confederacy. as one of today's foremost historians of civil war memory has pointed out -- and we will be talking about her book in a few minutes, the generation of white southerners who lived through the civil war shaped what was remembered and omitted from the historical record. they did this for social, cultural, and political purposes. that is really important to remember, that people actively shape memory. the slide here shows an advertisement for an 1866 book entitled "the lost cause" by edward pollard. he was a newspaper editor during the civil war in virginia. he is usually the person credited with coining this phrase, the lost cause. so, and again, this is immediately after the end of the conflict. pollard had written books during
12:03 am
the conflict about the war. from your readings and our discussions, what do you think are some of the basic tenants or arguments of the lost cause? i think up front, we should make sure we are all on the same page in terms of understanding what we mean by lost cause mythology. what is one of the arguments or premises in the lost cause? yes? how they it is about war was about states rights over slavery. prof. bohannon: excellent, yes, exactly. the civil war was a conflict fought not over slavery, not over that divisive issue, but about states rights. although southerners certainly believed, white southerners, that slavery had been an institution ordained by the
12:04 am
united states constitution, divinely ordained by god, so they defended the institution -- the civil war was not about slavery as much as it was about the issue of states rights. furthermore, the act of secession was a constitutional right of the states. the union was a compact, so individual states have the rights to secede if they chose to do so. the cause of the confederacy lost cause champions argued was a right one. -- a righteous one. it was very important to white southerners in the decades after the civil war into the 20th century that they not be seen as traitors. let's keep that in mind. sometimes the topic of civil war causation involved individuals changing their points of view or opinions.
12:05 am
the classic example that is always cited is alexander h stevens, who we talked about, the vice president of the confederacy. in march of 1861, weeks before the outbreak of the conflict of firing on fort sumter, he said slavery "was the immediate cause of the presente revolution." pretty straightforward, right? pretty straightforward. but then in his ponderous, enormous, two-volume tone that "constitutional view of the late war," and you read a blessedly brief passage from it at the beginning of the semester -- stevens said the war was not a contest between the advocates or of funds of the peculiar institution. what does he mean by a to your -- by peculiar institution?
12:06 am
yes? yeah, the institution of slavery. that was a common phrase used for slavery rights. slavery, stevens argued, had been a minor issue. this is in the late 1860's. he is changing his tune. it would be wrong though to say -- ex-onfederates confederates claimed that slavery had nothing to do with the outbreak of the civil war. some in the postbellum years admitted that, and i think that is important to point out, to acknowledge that the mythology of the lost cause is not monolithic. in other words, not all white southerners after the civil war embraced every tenant of this mythology. abolitionists are seen in a
12:07 am
negative light by lost cause supporters. they were fanatic, instigators of the war through their fanatical desire to free the slaves. and, when it came to the south slave population, lost cause supporters argued that the vast majority of slaves were loyal and devoted to their masters, right? this becomes a very important facet of late 19th, early 20th century plantation literature, some of the early silent films portrayed this moonlight in magnolias image of the antebellum south, where slaves are loyal and devoted. ,he stereotype of the mammy portrayed most famously in "gone with the wind." that is very much part of the lost cause mythology. lost cause advocates argued that
12:08 am
the confederate soldiers, all of them, were brave, loyal. they fought with honor. there is very little mention of desertion from the army, the confederate army, in the lost cause mythology. there is very little mention of defeatism and waning morale on the part of soldiers and civilians in the confederacy in the writings and rhetoric of the lost cause. it is not totally absent, you will see it occasionally in passing, but for the most part that is not something white southerners wanted to dwell on or discuss after the civil war, and then lastly, the loss caused -- the lost cause writers argued the south was defeated in 1865 because the north had larger army, because the north had more industry. it had a larger economy.
12:09 am
and this argument goes all the way back to appomattox, when robert e lee's army of northern virginia surrendered. in his famous farewell address to the troops at appomattox, robert e. lee said his army had "been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources." there is certainly a kernel of truth to this because the union armies were larger than the confederate armies. the united states had a much larger economy, more industry, then the confederacy. the lost cause according to barbara gannon and a new book that came out earlier this year entitled "americans remember the civil war" was an almost inevitable product of men and women coping with defeat. white southerners who saw their
12:10 am
world turned upside down, right, in 1865, the social order has been destroyed, slavery is gone, and i would recommend barber's book as probably at this the point best introduction to this complex field, growing field, of civil war memory. "americans remember the simple or -- the civil war." some historians argue that antebellum romanticism is at the root of lost cause mythology. the novels of walter scott, for instance, the waverley novels, where they portray this chivalrous knights. other historians have emphasized the centrality of protestant
12:11 am
christianity to the lost cause, and this argument is made notably in a book called "baptized in blood" by charles reagan wilson. wilson describes the lost cause as a civil religion promoted by southern clergyman, so this was a way for ministers and pastors to comfort white southerners in the wake of their disastrous defeat. these preachers stood behind podiums and told their congregation that god had a purpose for bringing defeat to his people. that the south would have to pass through tribulations, just like the old testament figure of job, in order to ultimately achieve salvation, and it was important obviously to remain faithful to god throughout this process, when dealing with
12:12 am
postwar poverty. furthermore, confederate leaders, military leaders in particular like robert e. lee in -- and his lieutenant stonewall jackson, were depicted as christian warriors. at the same time, though, reagan admits that in the normal services in protestant churches, southerners did not worship the confederacy. there was not an obsession with the topic so that it appeared in every sermon. i think this illustrates a larger point that historians might examine. there is a good bit of evidence to suggest that white southerners during the gilded age, into the 20th century, were not constantly thinking about the lost cause, were not obsessed with the confederacy or its heroes. and my impression is that for
12:13 am
most white southerners in the decades after the civil war, remembering the confederacy was something confined to maybe one or two occasions over the course of a year, when there was a veterans reunion in town of confederate soldiers, or on confederate memorial day. but other than that, people went about their everyday lives. another important book is one by gains foster entitled "ghost of the confederacy." foster claims that associations and organizations that were created in the decades after the civil war were vital to perpetuating the lost cause. in the years immediately after the conflict, groups such as ladies memorial associations became the dominant voice in white southern memory.
12:14 am
so this is in the 1870's, early 1880's, but by the 1890's and 19-teens, foster says there is a confederate revitalization that helps white southerners form a collective identity. this is also a time, the 1890's, when a number of national organizations are created that are vital to perpetuating lost cause mythology. one is the united confederate veterans, and as the name implies, it was an organization for men who served in the confederate ranks. the other organization was the united daughters of the confederacy. there were others, but these are the two largest and important. these groups sponsored a lot of activities. they sponsored books, pamphlets,
12:15 am
speeches, all of these helping shape the public perception of the confederacy. they held annual conventions, often big affairs, thousands of veterans would flock to a city each year to attend their annual reunion. they held parades and dedicated monuments, but foster argues that these organizations and champions of the lost cause were not solely looking to the past, that they weren't solely interested in the past, that instead, many of these people are also espousing a progressive vision of what has become known as a new south ideology. some of you have had other courses in southern history, georgia history. what do we mean when we talk
12:16 am
about the new south, right? a phrase coined by an atlanta newspaper editor, henry grady. what is involved in the new south vision that white southerners had in the 1880's, 1890's? anyone remember? well, these people wanted northern businessmen to come down and invest in the region. they wanted northern industry to relocate in the south, but in order to do this, reunification was important. it is important that northerners don't think that white southerners still hold a grudge against them. so the reunification of north and south is important to the new south's goals. there is also an admission that the end of slavery was a
12:17 am
positive element for the country, but, and this is important, but despite this desire for reunification, new south spokesman argued that the region had nothing to apologize for when it came to secession and the confederate cause, that the cause of southern independence had been a righteous one. that is an important aspect of the new south's ideology. foster lastly claims that the idealization of the antebellum south and the civil war era, which we have alluded to already , this notion of moonlight in magnolias, chivalric gentleman, southern belles and faithful
12:18 am
slaves, all this was needed for society facing dramatic change. right. you remember your u.s. history courses. the country in the 1890's at the beginning of the 20th century is in the midst of the industrial revolution, labor strife, the rise of populism, which many southern elites saw as a threat, right? immigration, the rise of the united states to the status of a world power. that is a lot of change taking place, so white southerners could take comfort looking to the past, this idealized image of the past, a stable social order, so the antebellum south becomes romanticized as a result of this. hold on just a second.
12:19 am
the white southerners had women, white southern women -- let me see if i can get this. hold on just a second. there we go. white southern women had a very prominent role in constructing the ideology of the lost south. what we have is a group of young women standing in front of a confederate monument -- i believe this is in talledega, alabama. these women are dressed in white to represent the purity of white southern womanhood. they are holding confederate flags. in the immediate postbellum years, organizations like the ladies memorial association that i mentioned a moment ago took on the task of re-interning the dead from the battlefield into newly established cemeteries and so these organizations sprang across the south, usually composed of women of the middle class or upper class, and they
12:20 am
are often directly related to confederate soldiers. they interpreted the dead as martyrs of a noble cause who had been defending their homes and family. there were also practical reasons why women, women during reconstruction, spearheaded the movement to memorialize the confederacy. remember, these activities were taking place when the south was under control of republican state government, and in some states and some places, under military occupation by the u.s. army. in such a situation, white southerners believed that organizations composed primarily of confederate veterans of men might be seen as treasonous or a threat by federal authorities.
12:21 am
consequently, as kerry janie has argued, white southern men and women realize they could deploy gender in the interest of memorializing the confederacy, so let me pose a question to you. how might women have used gender or gender roles or expectations to further the cause of confederate memorialization? think about it for a minute, particularly in this context of reconstruction. how could gender be important? let me give you questions to think about. were women seen as political actors in the mid-19th century? no, they are not. they can't vote. they cannot hold office. particularly in the south, women are not supposed to take on a public role, right, speaking behind a podium.
12:22 am
therefore, these ladies memorial associations could carry on their activities without being construed as being treasonous. these are not political actions that they are taking because they are not political actors, right? so they are not a threat to u.s. authority, not seen as treasonous. by the 1890's, an organization entitled the united daughters of the confederacy became some of the primary caretakers of confederate memory, and here we have an image from i believe it is 1911, and you see some of these women are udc members, also a few veterans interspersed. this is lexington, kentucky, and they are standing in front of a recently erected monument to jon hunt morgan. this is one of the monuments
12:23 am
month,st recently, last has been moved. it stood on the courthouse lawn in lexington and it has been moved in the last couple of weeks to a cemetery in lexington where morgan is buried. but this image shows us how by the 1890's, educated white women could participate in public activities like this one without appearing unfeminine, in ways certainlyers and their grandmothers could not have done. so southern society is changing by the 1880's and 1890's, and women are able to take on a more public role than before, and class i think is important here too. these organizations are composed
12:24 am
largely of middle to upper class individuals. the udc focused on building monuments like this one, providing care for aging confederate veterans, and especially reviewing and publishing textbooks that espoused lost cause views. this was absolutely, vitally important to the civil war era generation of white southerners, that textbooks contained their interpretation of history so that their views can be passed on to future generations. now, an important aside here, and i think it is important even though it is not the main topic of our lecture, to acknowledge that in the south in the decades after the civil war, there is a
12:25 am
counter narrative to the lost cause, right? that there are other strands of public memory, that african-american men and women were shaping the public memory of the civil war that stood in very sharp contrast to that of the lost cause. as others have pointed out, african-americans spoke and participated at emancipation day celebrations, they attended , sometimes in very large numbers, memorial day services at u.s. national cemeteries where war dead were buried. veterans of the u.s. colored troops, the gar, the counterpoint to the other organization, the largest for union veterans, and there were plenty of african-american veterans who started their own camps or attended with white
12:26 am
union veterans. all of these activities allowed free people and their families and children to assert their citizenship and their belief that the civil war had in fact been fought over the issue of slavery, and that it had resulted in a triumph for human freedom. so that is the counter narrative that should be a topic of its own lecture. one central figure of lost cause mythology is confederate general jubal early. he had served in the army of northern virginia under robert e. lee. in his speeches and writings, he argued that lee's army was equal in terms of its accomplishment, victories on the battlefield, bravery, to any in history. he repeated over and over how
12:27 am
lee's army had been worn down and defeated after four years by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, so he is essentially parroting the argument that robert e. lee made at appomattox. lee after the war served as president of washington college in lexington, virginia and passed away in 1870, and this is an engraving of his death in lexington. after lee's death, jubal early and other ex-confederates, many of them virginians, claimed that the late confederate chieftain had been the ideal southern gentleman, a man without fault. they also pointed out that lee at the time of the breakup of the union had been deeply torn between his loyalty to his country -- he had been a career officer in the united states
12:28 am
army -- and his home state of virginia, but that ultimately lee had no choice, no choice, but to side with his native state. this was not treason lost cause writers argued. here is an image that depicts the deification of lee. lee is there in the middle. some historians in recent decades have argued that lee's exalted status in the post reconstruction era was solely a postwar creation that lee's , deification occurred in the 1870's, 1880's. clearly this is not true. if you look at wartime
12:29 am
newspapers, diaries, letters, lee is clearly a hero by the fall of 1862 to white southerners, or merely -- primarily because he won victories on the battlefield. in contrast, lee's senior lieutenant, one of his most trusted subordinates during the civil war, james long street, became a target of scorn in lost cause mythology. for a couple of different reasons. long street is an interesting example of how ex-confederates through their writings or actions could be excommunicated , essentially. longstreet's first and criticizing decisions of lee at gettysburg. he did this after the war in discussions with the northern
12:30 am
newspaper reporter, who then published these comments. secondly, longstreet and other duringederates reconstruction, cast their lot party,e republican deeply despised by most ex-confederates. by the 20th century, robert e lee's exalted status had resulted in him becoming a national hero, not just a sectional hero. by the early mid 20th century, lee in u.s. popular culture is seen as the greatest general of the civil war, his stature eclipsing that of ulysses s. grant, who as we know, right, have talked about, was the key architect of northern victory, but lee's reputation is exalted
12:31 am
alongside that of lincoln, and lee's reputation is particularly solidified by the pulitzer-prize winning, four-volume biography by freeman. it is really not until the 1970's, really, that we start to see academic historians engage the lee myth, or questioning at least, aspects of -- the lee myth. much of what has been written emphasizes reconciliation, north and south coming together, driven by economic interests, which we have talked about, the new south ideology, popular
12:32 am
literature, joint reunions of blue and gray veterans, although these were not numerous. included union or confederate soldiers, but there were those that had union and confederate veterans coming together. lastly, national development, such as the spanish-american war, brought the two sides together, the sons of union and off torate veterans went liberate cuba. and, this slide is an iconic image that shows this reunification sentiment. this is 1913. it is the 50th anniversary of the battle of gettysburg and there was an enormous encampment
12:33 am
on the battlefield, and in this image we see veterans, union veterans on the left, confederate veterans on the right, who had participated in tickets charge, the enormous infantry charge on the third day of the battle. that is reenacted in 1913, but when the men on both sides reached what was called the high watermark, where the attack had culminated, the confederate attack, instead of shooting at each other, the elderly veterans reached across the stone wall and shook hands. this exemplifies again the reunification of north and south. and we are fortunate in the last few decades that there have been a number of very good studies of reunification sentiment of civil war memory, and we will focus
12:34 am
here on two of the most important for a couple of minutes. two of the most important. the first is a book entitled life in reunion" by david -- blythe. this came out in 2001. it is hard to underestimate how important this book has been in shaping the field of civil war memory. because of its centrality, it is important to try to summarize the book in a few of the main points. we can't do justice to it by any means, but we need to try to understand a few of his main points. he argues that there were three strands of memory that came out after the civil war, and each of these strands competed with each other in the public realm.
12:35 am
the first of these is an emancipationist memory, which emphasized the civil war had been about slavery and that union victory brought freedom to millions of people in bondage, and obviously that is a strand of memory that african-americans in the south embraced and many northerners. the second strand is a reconciliationist strand that emphasizes the reunion of the two sections of the country by forgetting -- and this is important -- by forgetting the importance of slavery, by forgetting race. and then the last strand of memory he calls the white
12:36 am
supremacist strand, and this includes the mythology of the lost cause, the notion that the war had primarily been fought over states rights and slavery had not been central to civil war causation. while he then argues that while the emancipationist memory never went away and the national -- away in the national consciousness, it is always embraced by african-americans for obvious reasons. ultimately, the reconciliationists overwhelmed the emancipationist vision and culture. this is the image of the civil war that americans embraced by the beginning of the 20th century. so the drive for reunion used
12:37 am
and trumped race. since the publication, there have been scholars who have adopted the arguments of the author in arguing that sectional reconciliation resulted at a time when white northerners embraced segregation, jim crow, and white supremacy. blue and gray veterans shook hands and they talked about the bravery of all soldiers, whether blue or gray, while ignoring the emancipationist memory. in effect, the argument goes that the lost cause memory of the war triumphed by the beginning of the 20th century in the national consciousness. there is evidence of this if you look at popular culture.
12:38 am
one of the most important films about the civil war is "birth of a nation," a silent film that came out in 1915, and it played to packed audiences across the country. reconciliation is a big scene in -- a big theme in the movie, but so is the lost cause. it embraces a lost cause narrative, not only of the civil war, but reconstruction. in one of the most famous scenes in the film, the ku klux klan are portrayed as heroes. so this terrorist wing of the democratic party in "birth of a nation" are portrayed as white knights to protect white southern womanhood from the black beast rapist, the ex-slaves. "birth of nation" --
12:39 am
a nation" is the most famous of the silent films to depict the civil war, but there were dozens and dozens of others, hundreds produced in the silent era, most of them lost now. we know enough that it is clear that in most of these films, probably all, the lost cause and the moonlight and magnolias myth of the old south are dominant. but the lost cause is not only being promulgated on film, but also in fiction, also in magazines, newspapers, also broadway plays. so let's turn our attention then to the other book that i think is absolutely central in the field of civil war memory, and
12:40 am
this is "remembering the civil war," coming out in 2013. janie draws a crucial distinction between reunion, which we have talked about, and reconciliation. reunion and reconciliation. so what does it mean? let's make sure we know what reconciliation is. let's take the verb form. what does it mean to reconcile with someone? make amends. make amends, forget past differences, right? janie argues that the majority of whites in the united states in the decades after the civil war wanted reunification of the country for reasons we have talked about already. reconciliation, on the other hand, was a much more difficult
12:41 am
and elusive goal. white southerners could except -- could accept union victory, accept national unity, while at the same time not really forgetting the yankees for what they done, for not admitting that your cause had been an unjust one. so you could have reunion without reconciliation, and that is essentially what janie argues. but in some ways janie and other historians, barbara gannon, who i mentioned earlier as one, ythe's argument. they claim that white northerners, many of them at least, did not capitulate to the lost cause memory.
12:42 am
that in other words, union veterans and many white northerners always believed that their cause had been the righteous one, their cause had been the triumphant one, and slavery had been central to the war, and that the distraction of -- the destruction of slavery had been vital to keeping the country together. so white northerners had not turned their backs on african-americans in the emancipationist memory according to janie. she also says that reconciliation efforts between north and south were often superficial. that if you look closely enough, and she does this brilliantly, if you look closely enough at speeches and joint reunions, battlefield dedications, monument dedications, public events, you can see lingering under the surface in many instances, sectional animosity.
12:43 am
and this continued, she points out, into the 20th century. and it is often in the case of lost cause, it is often white southern women who are the most unreconstructed, unwilling to reconcile, and keeping alive lost cause myths for future generations. reconciliation was a difficult process, and here they agree on this point, that by the 20th century, some aspects of lost cause dogma had become ascendant on the national scene, as we talked about in film for instance, or the elevation of lee to being a national hero. professional historians also, at least through the first half of the 20th century, embraced
12:44 am
elements of the lost cause when they wrote about the civil war. there were notable exceptions to this, the most famous and certainly one of the most important was w.e.b. dubois, who challenged lost cause mythology. it is only at the midpoint of the 20th century, when new generations of scholars influenced by world war ii, and in some cases their experiences in the conflict, the cold war, and the civil rights movement, start to question the dominant arguments of the lost cause and start to dismantle them. it is not an overnight process. it takes decades. these national, international events certainly have an impact on the way that new generations iewscholars you -- scholars v
12:45 am
the civil war, and of course you also see in the 1960's, 1970's, a more diverse representation of people going to graduate schools. outside of academia, though, lost cause symbols and mythology persisted, arguably into the 21st century. i don't think though, and this is personal opinion, impressionistic, i don't get a sense that the lost cause mythology is as pervasive as it used to be a few decades ago. i think there are various reasons for this. one is the growing diversity of the population, particularly in metropolitan areas of the south. in metro atlanta for instance there are more people living in the region who were born outside of georgia than were born in georgia, so you have had enormous influxes of people into
12:46 am
the south from other parts of the country and other parts of the world who are not wedded to , have not heard since childhood the mythology of the lost cause. so i wanted to ask then, can you think of any symbols of the lost cause, arguments of the lost cause, that have persisted into this century, into the 21st century? what are some examples of that? any thoughts, ideas? >> i mean, just in the past year you have had all these arguments about confederate arguments, especially after charlottesville over the summer. a lot of people have been raseing to a race -- to e the mountain. prof. bohannon: exactly, nice introduction to the slide, thank you. stone mountain, the carving here, is the largest confederate monument in the world.
12:47 am
it is on the largest piece of exposed granite in the world right outside atlanta. the carvings were actually started, the work on them, in the 1920's, and took until the early 1970's to complete them. they depict three of the military heroes, or two other heroes, stonewall jackson, robert e lee, and the confederate president jefferson davis, and as molly mentioned, there have been calls recently by the state naacp, one of the leading democratic candidates for governor, stacey abrams, to erase the monument, or erase the carvings rather, so stone mountain is one of many confederate symbols that is very divisive today in the 21st century. any other ideas or examples you can think of?
12:48 am
i think monuments like this, the confederate battle flag, which has also been a point of controversy, always have been and will be divisive. there was a poll released last week that i read about in the "atlanta journal-constitution" that vividly illustrates the deep racial divide that still exists in the south when it comes to confederate monuments and symbols. the poll interviewed 830 white and black southerners, and it reported that 48% of the white southerners interviewed said that confederate monuments should be left where they are, exactly where they are, while 48% of african-americans said that those same monuments should go to museums, and that only 14% of african-americans interviewed said that the monuments should stay where they are. that is a pretty stark divide, isn't it? it is clear, i think, that from
12:49 am
these poll results from recent news coverage, that our society is not going to be able to resolve the fate of monuments like this one in a way that will please everyone. a lot of recent commentary, and i mean in the last few months, monuments,ate discussed the almost solely as symbols of racial oppression. one example was on national public radio, where a reporter -- this is back in august -- said that historians "now note that the majority of the memorials seem to have been built with the intention not to honor fallen soldiers, but specifically to further the ideals of white supremacy." so, were these monuments erected
12:50 am
as reminders, constant reminders, of white racial dominance, of the mythology of the lost cause? of course. this is why they are so contentious today, right? the same time, though, i would differ with the npr reporter in one respect. i would argue the primary reason, the primary reason, that white southerners erected monuments, particularly in that period between 1890 and the 19-teens, the monuments on courthouse lawns across the south, the primary reason that these monuments were erected was, and primary is important, not the only, was to commemorate the enormous loss of life that had taken place in four years of war.
12:51 am
one in three confederate soldiers had died in the conflict. secondly, the other primary reason for these monuments, and there were later generations of monuments that we don't have time to talk about, but the monuments were also erected to honor, i believe, the remaining elderly confederate veterans before they passed, so the same degree or sense of anxiety that we have seen in recent years to put up monuments to world war ii veterans before they have all passed away. most of the monuments on courthouse lawns teacher a common soldier, a common confederate soldier, and they -- and a figure that undoubtedly represented for many whites, the racial divide is certainly there, but for many whites who looked at these monuments and looked at the soldier on top,
12:52 am
they thought of fathers, sons, brothers who never returned home, or who returned home with scars, visible and invisible scars. the inscriptions on these monuments i think provide a lot of evidence for this line of argument, as well as the power of the myth of the lost cause. one inscription i think will illustrate this. this is on one of these monuments in north carolina. the inscription on it, and again , virtually the same thing can be seen on hundreds of other monuments, the inscription says "to commemorate with grateful love the patriotism, valor, and devotion to duty of the brave soldiers of the confederacy." white southerners at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, did not need to erect monuments
12:53 am
with the primary purpose of intimidating african-americans or reminding everyone in town of the racial hierarchy. there were far more effective means of doing this that whites implemented during these years, -- these years. so we are talking again about 1890's through the 19-teens, and from some of your other classes , what are these actions being taken during this time to keep african-americans in their place, to remind them of the racial hierarchy? what are some of the things happening? excellent. yeah, the jim crow laws, laws that made segregation legal, right, being passed of the state -- being passed at the state and
12:54 am
local level during this time, yeah, excellent, yes? >> extreme violence against african americans throughout the south with the lynchings. prof. bohannon: lynchings, some of which are horrible public spectacles, right? some of these hangings or burnings were in the woods, but some were not. some were witnessed by hundreds and hundreds of people. and then lastly, the democratic party in the south was taking steps, right, effective steps, to disenfranchise african-americans and remove them from the voter rolls, so there is a lot going on at this time when these monuments are being erected that is important, right? to take this up to the present , and to interject my own opinion here, i am not sure that confederate monuments should remain in public spaces without ,dditional interpretation
12:55 am
without objective signage that helps place them in the context of the times in which they were erected. signage that would have objective text, right? that is easier said than done, i think, right, arriving at objective text i think will be difficult and contentious spirit -- contentious. but new interpretive markers could inform readers about the lost cause mythology we have been talking about. it could inform readers about jim crow and lynching, informed -- inform readers that this monument should remind us not only of confederate soldiers, but there was a four-your war fought that resulted not in confederate victory, but union victory, and most importantly it was a war that resulted in the emancipation of nearly 4 million human beings.
12:56 am
that is not mentioned on most confederate monuments, so put that on the signage. in some locales, the signage could mention something i suspect many are unaware of, particularly in the deep south, upper south too, many communities there were large numbers of african-american men who fled from arms and plantations and enlisted in the u.s. colored troops, so the new signage could widen interpretation of the civil war beyond what is inscribed on those marble monuments. in conclusion, i hope you will agree with me that the field of civil war memory is an important one, and it is exciting how vibrant it is. there are a lot of scholars out there working in this field, and i think it is particularly important right now as our society grapples with issues related to race and debates, the
12:57 am
question of whether the confederacy should still be commemorated in public spaces. thank you. we will see you all on wednesday. did you all have any questions? yes? >> so we were talking about how they came together to reunite. would you consider chickamauga to be one of those? >> that is a great example. the chickamauga battlefield outside of chattanooga is a famous example of reunification, the oldest civil war battlefield preserved by the u.s. government in the 1890's. they made a huge deal there, and there was a very conscious effort to involve both union and confederate generals and
12:58 am
soldiers in planning the park and putting up monuments. yeah, that is a prominent local example here in north georgia of reunification sentiment. so, all right, we will see you all on wednesday. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> join us every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern as we join students in college classrooms to hear elections -- hear lectures on topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. lectures and history are also available as podcasts. visit our website or download them from itunes. of 1944, thecember soviet red army and romanian army encircled budapest, the capital of hungary, trapping
12:59 am
soldiers and civilians in the city. the siege continued until the second week of february, 1945, when the remaining defenders surrendered. tv, an american history military historian talks about the significance of the siege of budapest and argues it is an overshadowed battle because it happened near the end of world war ii. the kansas city public library hosted at this hour-long event.

101 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on