Hamilton: A Review and Thoughts on Revisionism

Hamilton: A Review and Thoughts on Revisionism

As a spectator I found it masterfully done; as a historian I found it thought-provoking and intriguing. Hamilton is not a historically accurate portrayal of the life of Alexander Hamilton (although the historical context was pretty spot on in most places), and it was never meant to be. The choices made by the writers, production team, and performers sends many layers of meaning about history, race, diversity, and the relationships between people both then and now.

Read More

The Confederate Monument Controversy….in the 1890s

The Confederate Monument Controversy….in the 1890s

Confederate monuments are at the forefront of politics and national debate these days as American society grapples with the legacy of the Civil War and its aftermath. While this debate seems new and is situated in a modern society that is opening many meaningful, and sometimes divisive, conversations about history, race, and society, controversy over Confederate monuments is not necessarily new.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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.”

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

"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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More