Editorial: Charleston, America, and the Confederacy's Legacy

Editorial:  Charleston, America, and the Confederacy's Legacy

Last week, twenty-one year old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  An act of violence and racial hatred, the tragedy has sparked a nationwide debate over racism and, in particular, the symbolism of the Confederate flag.  The flag of a now-dead nation dedicated to the defense of slavery, the flag that appears in photographs with Dylann Roof, and the flag that today floats free over the South Carolina Capitol grounds.

I suspect, owing to public outcry and political pressure, the flag in Columbia will come down.  The governor of South Carolina has called for its removal, and yesterday Alabama removed its Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.  Yet while the flag faces greater scrutiny, the current debate cannot merely rest on the Confederate flag. The discussion instead needs to encompass the Confederacy’s legacy in the United States—what the Confederacy stood for, what it means today, and the place (if any) it should occupy in 21st-century America.

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Patriotism in Print: The American Union, A Soldier's Wartime Paper

Patriotism in Print:  The American Union, A Soldier's Wartime Paper

On the evening of July 3, 1861, a dozen Union soldiers (self -described “disciples of Faust”) broke into the offices of the of the Virginia Republican—a decidedly secessionist organ—and appropriated the newspaper’s office for their own use.  The next morning—on the Fourth of July—the first issues of the American Union hit the streets of Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).  The newspaper—composed and printed entirely by Union soldiers—enjoyed a brief existence in Martinsburg, lasting only as long as the Union troops occupied the town.  Despite its brief existence, however, the paper sheds light onto the patriotism and zeal of Union soldiers during the war's opening months.

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