The title of this blog comes from a speech made by Frederick Douglass in 1878, in which he spoke on the American Civil War and memory. Douglass reemerged the causes and consequences of the war long forgotten by an American people who tired of constant conflict with readmitted Southern States over political and social power. This period – 1865-1876 – is known as Reconstruction. In this period, Americans reconciled with one another over their shared experiences through physical aspects of war. This is to say that the Civil War was initially preserved and remembered by descriptions of valor, honor, courage, and bravery – characteristics displayed on thousands of battlefields across 34 states and numerous territories – and ideas of heroic actions and service by both federals and secessionists. The above is a very general description of Southern propagandists using the “Lost Cause” to move forward and away from the ideas surrounding the American Civil War. Douglass took umbrage with the ‘Lost Cause” narrative and pushed back these fallacies throughout his post-war speaking career, in which he called attention to the role of slavery, enslavement, slave societies, and enslaver mentality to the outbreak of war. No speech more so than his Decoration Day speech in 1878.
In the same manner as Douglass, this space intends to look at the ideas surrounding the war. Topics will include slavery, immigration, concepts of terror and treason, political and individual agendas, as well as similar topics. I, and we, will have our detractors but I hope that multiple people will engage with the sources presented and become involved with the conversation. We will not always agree, but I encourage all to actively participate.
One of the most difficult things about studying the Civil War Era is that discussions on the topic tend to bleed into modern-day politics. This is not my intention. However, I would be remiss to think that our current political climate and our current American culture(s) are not affected by our past. Themes will transcend eras; causes of yesterday will be evident in consequences of today, but this is not a page for political agendas nor should it be taken as one. We hope to promote historical facts, historical truths, and historical accuracies about the era.
Many themes and historical arcs will be discussed but the primary scope will encompass discussion on political, social, and cultural history. Other aspects, such as military history, memory, and environmental impacts will be discussed but are not the primary focal point. Because of these conscious decisions, as well as an obligation to the reader that we research topics thoroughly, I expect to release one to two posts per month. I hope that this decision will give ample time for a discussion to take place.
A final note. I ask you all to be courteous and respectful to your fellow enthusiasts, educators, aficionados, or anyone else who decides to read these pages and/or make comments. This platform lends itself to be misused but I ask for civility when commenting on a specific post or towards any individuals who comment. Therefore, any use of hate, racism, antisemitism, or similar language outside historic context or about a specific post will not be tolerated on this platform. I encourage everyone to engage with the platform but to do so with an abundance of respect. Disagreements will occur but that is not an excuse to participate in unacceptable dialogue.