At its core, Civil Discourse offers fresh and thought-provoking content via our blog, which delves into one of the richest and most significant eras in American history: the 19th-century.
Examining the era via a range of perspectives and lenses (political, cultural, social, gender, and military, among others), Civil Discourse invites you to read our thoughts and share your own.
While we at Civil Discourse strive to present a wide variety of topics and viewpoints, our content is ultimately a product of our own experiences. Learn more about Civil Discourse by checking out our mission statement and authors' bios.
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We periodically highlight content that has us thinking, arguing, reflecting, and learning.
In the context of debates over Confederate monuments, Zac Cowsert wrote a piece about needing to commemorate Southern Unionists, both black and white.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
Almost every historian, buff, and enthusiast has an origin story, a memory of how they became interested in history or their particular topic. How they got their “spark” so to speak. What is your story?
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.
For most people the Gettysburg Address is something they had to memorize in school or a vaguely understood document from the Civil War. For me, the Gettysburg Address represents inspiration for my future as a historian.
Dudley’s father, Thomas Worth Olcott, made his contributions on the homefront, in ways that are perhaps less recognizable, but hardly less important, than soldiers.