Historic Site Review: Frogmore Cotton Plantation, Natchez, MS

Historic Site Review: Frogmore Cotton Plantation, Natchez, MS

In the midst of conversation and debate about how to best interpret slavery at historic sites, I recently visited Frogmore Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. When my family signed up to take a tour of this working cotton plantation as part of our Mississippi River cruise, I was admittedly excited but with some trepidation. Viewing the experience through the historian’s lens, it could have been enlightening or terrible.

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Mississippi Finally “Bans” Slavery

Mississippi Finally “Bans” Slavery

In February 2013 headlines announced that the state of Mississippi had finally banned slavery.  Now this is not to say that the state had been stuck in an Antebellum/Civil War timewarp for the past century and a half.  But apparently there were a few oversights along the way.

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Material Culture and the Confederate Monument Debate

Material Culture and the Confederate Monument Debate

Thus we also need to remember that the monuments we build, the sites we preserve, and the places we name are never just about history.  They are and have always been about who we imagine ourselves to be in the present and what we want to be, as a community, in the future.

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Top 5 Civil Discourse Posts of 2017!

Top 5 Civil Discourse Posts of 2017!

It's a new year, which means (after a undeniable autumnal hiatus) a fresh round of Civil Discourse posts rests just around the corner. Yet it's also an opportune time to look back at pieces that have resonated with our readers over the past year, several of which caused quite a stir. Without further ado, here are the five most popular Civil Discourse posts of 2017!

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The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The historical amnesia of the South regarding its black and white Union soldiers should be rectified. By choosing to selectively remember and honor Confederate soldiers while simultaneously ignoring the many Southerners who fought for the Union, Southerners send clear message that loyalty to region, protection of white supremacy, and veneration of the Confederacy are the only legacies of the Civil War worth remembering. If Confederate monuments continue to be torn down, new ones should go up, celebrating those Southerners--black and white--who remained loyal to the Union and brought about “a new birth of freedom.”

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Flying Dutchmen: The XI Corps at Chancellorsville

Flying Dutchmen: The XI Corps at Chancellorsville

In the aftermath of defeat at Chancellorsville, the XI Corps received the bulk of the blame.  They had run, had crumbled under Jackson’s attack without resistance.  They were labeled cowards and forevermore known as the “Flying Dutchmen.”  The nickname was earned within a short period of time on the battlefield but the series of events that caused the XI Corps’ flight was put into action long before that moment, even before the armies knew they would meet in the Wilderness west of Fredericksburg.

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War Front and Home Front, Father and Son: A Family’s Contribution to the Civil War (Part I)

War Front and Home Front, Father and Son: A Family’s Contribution to the Civil War (Part I)

Surrounded by the capitol city that has grown up around it, Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1797-8 outside Albany, NY and remained a private home until it was presented to the Albany County Historical Association in 1948.  Although its early history remains a strong focus—to this day it retains the name of its builder and first owner, General Abraham Ten Broeck—the mansion witnessed another upheaval of American History, the Civil War.  At the time, the family of Thomas Worth Olcott owned and resided in the house.  He and his son, Dudley, both offered their service to the cause of the United States, although in entirely different ways.

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"Come and Go with Us": Legacies of Union, Freedom, and Civil War at Yorktown

"Come and Go with Us": Legacies of Union, Freedom, and Civil War at Yorktown

Yet with their retreat, and the subsequent Union occupation of Yorktown for the rest of the war, the success of this siege had far more deep implications for the legacies of Yorktown and the Revolution.

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Reporting from USITT: Curating 101

Reporting from USITT: Curating 101

Even if you do not work for a big museum, there are opportunities to put together exhibits at colleges, libraries, local sites, or special events. These steps will vary depending of your specific exhibit, but hopefully this framework will help inspire more creative exhibits!

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Reporting from the AHA: Success Tips for the Academic Job Market

Reporting from the AHA: Success Tips for the Academic Job Market

Several sessions at this year’s meeting of the American Historical Association focused on the job market, and how to successfully land your first job in academia. Here are tips from historians on how to nail your interview and transition to your first job.

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Book Review: The Politics of Mourning by Micki McElya

Book Review: The Politics of Mourning by Micki McElya

On first glace, Micki McElya’s The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery appears to be a history of the creation and development of the United States’ most famous national cemetery. Very quickly, however, the reader realizes that this book is a much deeper analysis of how Arlington National Cemetery grew from a family home and plantation to the country’s most sacred burial grounds, one that considers race, gender, memory, and politics. As a result, this work illuminates not only the history of the National Cemetery, but the society in which it developed.

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When Did Slavery Really End in the North?

When Did Slavery Really End in the North?

The perception about the United States in the period before the Civil War is that the North was “free” and the South was “slave.” Now, in some senses this division is accurate; certainly the two regions would end up going to war against each other for issues very related to this debate over slavery. However, the demise of slavery in the North was far more complicated that usually presented. It is certainly not the oversimplified story of slavery ending in the North after the Revolution, leading to a “free” region, as we sometimes see presented in classrooms.

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Top Ten Civil Discourse Posts of 2016: #1-5

Top Ten Civil Discourse Posts of 2016: #1-5

New Year's Day and Civil Discourse's second anniversary are just around the corner, so today we finish our look at the top ten posts of 2016. Earlier this week we cracked the top ten, and in today's posts we bring you the five most popular posts of the year. Whether your a Civil Discourse regular, an infrequent friend, or a first-time visitor to our blog, examining our top posts of the year is a great way to get a feel for the stories we share on our blog. So without further ado, here are our top post of the year! You can read more by clicking a post's title!

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Top Ten Civil Discourse Posts of 2016: #6-10

Top Ten Civil Discourse Posts of 2016: #6-10

We're approaching a new year and Civil Discourse's second anniversary in 2017! As we did last year, we're finishing 2016 with a look back at the year's top ten posts. These popular pieces not only shed light on the Civil War but also allow us to understand the conflict from new perspectives. Without further ado, we begin our top ten countdown with posts six through ten!

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Diary Disclosures: David Hunter Strother on Civil War Leaders

Diary Disclosures: David Hunter Strother on Civil War Leaders

Forty-five years old at the start of the Civil War, David Hunter Strother had built his career through pen and pencil. A renowned artist, known via his pen-name "Porte Crayon," Strother traveled throughout the nation in the antebellum years, sharing sketches and stories of his travels via popular magazines of the day. Yet as the nation collapsed in 1861, Strother, who hailed from western Virginia, decided to put his artistic talents to use for the Union army. In the war's early years, Strother served as a topographer for Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley and western Virginia; he eventually earned a commission as a Union officer. Besides Strother's daily work of scouting terrain and sketching maps, the observant Virginian also kept a meticulous, detailed diary which would eventually span dozens of journals. In today's post, I want to share David Hunter Strother's experiences and opinions of various important Civil War figures with you. All of these diary entries date from September, 1861-February, 1862; these diary entries were not published in Cecil Eby's Virginia Yankee. While I have edited lightly for clarity, I have largely left Strother's words and occasional misspellings as they were. After each entry, I have offered a small note with my thoughts and biographical information.

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