Confederate Monument Removal

Stop messing with our United States History. If you don ‘t like our heritage, then get the hell out of our country. This message found on Facebook was printed on the background of the Confederate flag. It is a reference to the removal of statues of Confederate Generals in a number of southern cities. As if the removal of those statues is a denial that the Civil War ever took place. It is not. The majority of the public is not aware of what the monuments in question represent. If they understood the statues’ true meaning; there would be no such messages on Facebook.

As a historian I must point out that no one has yet suggested that we stop teaching the Civil War. I would be the first one to stand up against that should it happen. Robert E Lee’s tactics are still taught at West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy, and the Army War College. As they should be. They are worthy of study and need to be understood. Any understanding of this nation needs to be based on an understanding of the Civil War. It defined us and opened us to all we became both good and bad things. A community in the South deciding to remove a statue of a Confederate General regardless of who that General is, is a matter for that community and any other community that wishes to do the same thing. It is not a denial of History. It is merely the recognition that society is changing.

A reasonable argument can be made that statues of Confederate Generals erected in the South after the Civil War from the 1890s-1920s were symbols of the system of Jim Crow, African-American disenfranchisement, segregation, and lynching, which were meant to keep former slaves in their place. During that thirty-year period, the Confederacy was idealized by the myth of the Lost Cause, which taught generations of southerners that the only reason the South lost the Civil War was because of the North’s superior numbers. In the twenty-first century, people in southern communities decided that they no longer want to look at those statues because of what they represent not because of a denial of history, but in recognition of it.1

The fact is the Civil War was fought over slavery not over State’s Rights or Northern aggression. Alexander Stevens, Vice President of the Confederacy, unequivocally stated the fact in March 1861. The cornerstone of the Confederate government, he said, rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural moral condition.2 The Lost Cause maintains slavery was a benevolent institution benefiting both blacks and whites. Indeed, when examined through the clouded lens of the Lost Cause the institution was a reciprocal relationship, which insured domestic peace that abolitionists threatened.3 The monuments of Robert E. Lee and others that appeared throughout the former Confederacy perpetuated that myth. Additionally, Confederate monuments to the Lost Cause supported the myths that emancipation had been a grave mistake, and Reconstruction had been driven by a vindictive desire to impose a dangerous racial equality on a prostrate white South, and that the redemption of the South by Klan violence and electoral fraud had been a heroic moment in southern history.4

The mythology of the Lost Cause was set down in history books such as Olin E. McKnight’s secondary textbook, Living in Arkansas. In that 1951 history text African-Americans were depicted as idle, penniless, lawless; they stole, plundered, burned houses and at times committed other crimes—often encouraged by carpet-baggers and scalawags in these acts of lawlessness, it pontificated, and this justified Reconstruction violence against them.5 Such a distortion of history led many white Southerners to oppose the modern Civil Rights Movement vehemently and violently. In fact, in Little Rock in 1957 the opposition was so vigorous that it actually threatened the lives of nine African-American students attempting to enter Little Rock’s Central High School. State and local government, and the National Guard could not be relied upon to either protect the students or enforce the Supreme Court’s order to end segregation in public schools. As a result, President Eisenhower had to send the 101st Airborne division to protect the lives of the nine students.

In 1961 the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) sent a group of African American and white freedom riders on buses to check the Federal Court ruling that banned segregation on buses, trains, and in terminals. In Alabama mobs attacked the travelers, burned one of the buses, and assaulted Justice Department observers. Then in 1962 the governor of Mississippi defied a court order and refuse to allow James Meredith, a black student, to enroll in the University of Mississippi. Even though the governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, attempted the same thing five years earlier and failed. Attorney General Robert Kennedy dispatched Federal Marshals to enforce the law. These are just three examples of the Lost Cause myth and the monuments that perpetuated it being accepted as history.

Monuments to Confederate Generals are implicit reminders of the suppression of African-American people. The suppression continues, on March 19, 2021 the West Virginia State House passed a bill that would make it illegal to remove Confederate statues unless that removal is first approved by the state’s historic preservation office.6 If the bill passes the Senate, t hen city councils, universities, schools, and other organizations would have to seek approval before removing Confederate monuments in West Virginia a state born out of the Civil War. Statues of Confederate Generals were erected to support the false historical narrative of the Lost Cause, which has been discredited by historians beginning in the latter decades of the twentieth century. To understand the true meaning and impact of the Civil War on this nation the conflict needs to be examined honestly–its events have to be seen for what they were to be completely understood and appreciated. It is time for the narrative of the Lost Cause to be laid to rest. It is nothing more than a historical dead end whose existence explains more about early twentieth century society than any aspect of the Civil War.

Notes

1 Eric Foner, Confederate Statues and Our History, The New York Times, August 20, 2017, http://inside.sfuhs.org/dept/history/US_History_reader/Chapter7/Confederate%20StatuesFoner.pdf.
2 Alexander Stephens, Primary Source: Alexander Stephens on Slavery and the Confederate Constitution, 1861 | United States History I, accessed April 9, 2021, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/ushistory1os/chapter/primary-source-alexander-stephens-on-slavery-and-the-confederate-constitution-1861/.
3 Christopher A. Graham, Lost Cause Myth – The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, May 13, 2020, https://inclusivehistorian.com/lost-cause-myth/.
4 Graham, Lost Cause Myth.
5 Fred Arthur Bailey, Free Speech and the Lost Cause in Arkansas, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 55.2 (1996): 143.
6 Zack Harold, West Virginia Republicans Seek to Criminalize Removal of Confederate Statues, The Guardian, April 8, 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/08/west-virginia-republican-bill-confederate-statues.

Abbreviations and Symbols in Footnotes

One of the things that makes research fun and interesting for me is examining footnotes of the sources I come across. The reason is I never know what information is there to be discovered. It could be a heretofore unknown primary source document, or an article which supports the argument that my piece is trying to make. It is for that reason I do not use abbreviations, citation symbols, or obscure terminology in my footnotes. Additionally, I define  terms used to provide a common frame of reference.

In my research of the Capital Riot that occurred on January 6, 2021, I have found to my joy and irritation many footnotes which include abbreviations and citation symbols such as in the image below.

Footnotes from the House Managers brief in the Senate Trial of Trump

In footnotes 175 and 176 the words United States Constitution are abbreviated as are the words Article, Section and Clause. Now, I know that I could be accused of nitpicking, and the House Managers were aware that the audience for their brief would understand the abbreviations; but it would not have taken up that much more time or space provided a full and complete footnote at least at 175 for the general public. As a historian, I am familiar with the abbreviations and the symbol (§) for section. But most people are not, even most undergraduates.

Capital Riot

For several weeks I have been processing the events of January 6, 2021, in an effort to understand what happened. Not necessarily why it happened because that will take more time. I have been reluctant to post anything; fact, or opinion about the riot because it might offend some of my friends. Nevertheless, I find it necessary to express my views and sift through the facts. I do not know how long it will take or where this process will lead. I find it needs to be done, for nothing like it has ever happened in the history of the United States of America since its founding. So, I shall take the risk of offending some of my friends.

View on YouTube

The Crusades Terry Jones

Crusades hosted by Terry Jones (Monty Python) is a 1995 British television series, which examined European Christians’ efforts to take Jerusalem and other cities in the Holy Land from the Muslim Turks. In four episodes, Jones provides a basic understanding of the motivations both European Christians and the Muslim Turks. Its use of dark humor to deal with many of the unpleasant episodes of the Crusades makes the series useful in the classroom. Jones brings all his skills to the presentation of the series: trained historian, writer; comedian all can be seen in his presentation. Additionally, he holds the students attention. Below is the list of links to the programs in the series.

  1. Pilgrims in Arms
  2. Jerusalem
  3. Jihad
  4. Destruction

One of my favorite series, it is my go to program on this topic. As a historian myself, I fully understand that the historiography of any event needs to be examined from as many aspects as possible in order to obtain complete understanding of it.

Lectures on YouTube

This week I discovered that PowerPoint has the capability to record presentations as videos that can be uploaded to YouTube or any website. This capability provides the opportunity for me to actually give the lectures I write. Below are examples of this capability. However, they are not the best from a performance standpoint; but the information is accurate.

This lecture and the three above are part of the unit Duck, Cover, and Conform America in the 1950s.

This lecture is part of a group materials on Watergate, which I created some years ago.

Duck, Cover, and Conform America in the 1950s Notes

I suppose what follows is a journal or a log. It is by no means complete. It covers July 2019-August 2020. It starts two years after I started the project. The project took a detour in July-August 2017, when I discovered that I did not know enough about McCarthyism to include it in the lecture; so I researched and wrote an article, which was published in 2018. Then, life happened and the project had to be put on the back burner. Notes begin near the end of July 2019 and end in the beginning of August 2020 when the creation of all the content was completed, and work switched to preparation for publication.

I completed the Consumer Culture section of the lecture. I need to move on to the suburbs and the changing population of the American city. Then, the major events that occurred in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s.

Work continues on the Civil Rights section of the lecture. I am taking notes from the American Pageant Chapter 38.

I have completed notes on the NAACP’s court efforts. Next I will explain the Little Rock crisis of 1957. Then, I will move on to Rosa Parks and the Alabama Bus Boycott of 1955 and the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership conference (SCLC).

I decided not to include the SCLC in the lecture for reasons of space and time. Space, the lecture was getting too long, and time; although formed in 1957 most of the group’s activities took place in 1960s.

I have almost completed first subsection of the Civil Rights portion of my lecture. Brown v. Board of Education (1954). I still need to explain Brown II and with all deliberate speed. Additionally, in April, I added the section on the Cold War.

Created a 1950s folder in soc Document Archive directory. It contains all the files that where in Duck and Cover sources. The 1950s folder will be used from now on as I continue to work on the unit. Additionally, I have completed the PowerPoint lecture. The only remaining slides or works cited and publication information. Furthermore I have decided to split the presentation into several smaller parts.

I have completed the last two slides of the lecture. I have divided it into four files, and made PDF handouts. Additionally, I have created links to each file and embed code for the web page, and I have started putting the research and opinion questions into worksheet form.

I have completed the research and opinion questions, and I have created a question sheet for the Point of Order video; and the Eisenhower video on his reasons for sending the 101st Airborne to Little Rock. I have also sourced The Great Black Migration reading from Chapter 38. I still need to make questions for it.

I have completed all the content for the 1950s unit. I’m moving on to construct the webpages.

The Day the Universe Changed

dtu

The Day the Universe Changed is a 1985 BBC television series, which aired in the United States on PBS. Written and presented by James Burke, the series postulates a very simple; yet very powerful idea that when what a society knows changes, for them the universe changes. Thirty-five years on, the main theme and its presentation hold up. Burke walks through the advancement of Science and Technology throughout Western Civilization, starting with the Greeks and ending with what was then the present. Along the way, he highlights the main theme, and concludes that increasingly we live in a world in which change occurs quicker than our ability to understand it and is the only constant.

Burke’s argument is one of the main reasons I became a historian. Viewing the series on PBS when it originally aired in the United States, the argument and its presentation made it lasting impression, which is why it has importance today. Available for free at archive.org, the series has had the impact that James Burke intended.

Below are links to the programs in the series:

  1. The Way We Are
  2. In the Light of the Above
  3. Point of View
  4. A Matter of Fact
  5. Infinitely Reasonable
  6. Credit Where It’s Due
  7. What the Doctor Ordered
  8. Fit to Rule
  9. Making Waves
  10. Worlds Without End

 

Nixon Impeachment Coverage

 

PBS1974

Several months ago, I discovered that the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings were posted on the American Archive of Public Television website, out of sequence. After many months of work I have, I believe, placed them in the proper order. Additionally, the video does not work on iOS; nor is the link to the May 9, 1974, transcript available to the general public. The link given is to an academic archive which requires access to a university library.

The project started by linking the video with page numbers in the transcript, a link to which was provided on the website. Some segments were mislabeled and some segments were listed under the wrong date. For example, the video segments for July 25, 1974 were listed under July 30, 1974 on the website. The simplest way to deal with the problem was to construct viewing order tables putting each segment in the correct sequence under the right date. Unfortunately, the project took too long to complete and the Archive discovered and corrected the problem without any help from me. Nevertheless, the viewing order that follows is still useful because it references the beginning speaker and page number of the transcript for each segment, which the Archive website does not.

Viewing Order
WatergateExcel725

Senate Watergate Video Now Available on iOS

 

JohnDean
John Dean testifying June 27, 1973

An earlier post discussed the monumental and important work done by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB)—putting the Senate Watergate Hearings and the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings online. At that time, the collection had some issues:

There are some technical issues with the repository. None of the videos can be embedded into a website, and only the first week’s videos can be played on an iOS device. Hopefully, it is a minor glitch with a website or the operating system that AAPB and/or Apple will eventually fix. However, all the videos run well on Windows 10.
Watergate Hearings Online

Recently, the above problem has been solved. All of the Senate Watergate Hearings can be viewed on an iOS device. The Judiciary Committee Impeachment proceedings still can only be viewed on Windows 10. Hopefully, that will be fixed soon. In addition to the problem of the Impeachment videos being out of sequence. A corrected sequence will be posted here in the future.

Watergate Hearings Online

LocWatergateVideo

Post in Word Format microsoft-word-icon

Watergate is the most important political scandal of the twentieth century. Because of his actions and those of his staff Richard M. Nixon the Thirty-Seventh President of the United States resigned on August 8, 1974. Nixon chose to resign rather than face an impeachment vote in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Those actions ranged from breaking into the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist,1 the use of the Internal Revenue Service to attack the President’s enemies; to the break-in and wiretapping of telephones at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972, and its cover up.

Such a criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice could not be kept from the public. Newspaper reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and others investigated the Watergate break-in as well as other questionable activities of the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP). One of the most unfortunate, yet descriptive acronyms in American History. The Justice Department indicted the Watergate Seven on September 15, 1972.2 By January 1973, all but two of the Watergate Seven plead guilty. James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy were tried and found guilty on January 30, 1973. On March 23, 1973, facing the possibility of severe sentence, James McCord wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica in which he stated pressure had been applied to the defendants to ensure silence. Perjury was committed in the courtroom. Sirica made the letter public and imposed harsh sentences, ranging from twenty to forty years, to force the defendants’ cooperation.3 By May 17, 1973, what would become known as the Senate Watergate Committee had completed its preparations and began fifty-one days of televised hearings on the Watergate break-in and other CREEP activities.

The public was mesmerized. Almost every TV in the country was tuned to the hearings. The major television networks ABC, NBC and CBS took turns televising the hearings during the day. Soap operas, game shows, and cartoons were preempted to show the Watergate Hearings. Additionally, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), still in its infancy, rebroadcasted gavel to gavel coverage of the hearings in prime time. For more than forty years this tremendous primary source material was virtually inaccessible to the public and most scholars. On November 3, 2017, the Library of Congress and WGBH, Boston announced that all fifty-one days of the hearings had been digitized and were available online:

The Library of Congress and Boston public broadcaster WGBH announced today that gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, donated to the Library by WETA Washington, D.C., has been digitally preserved and made available online. Produced by the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT), the hearings were taped during the day and rebroadcast every evening on public television for 51 days, from May 17 to Nov. 15. These broadcasts became one of the most popular series in public broadcasting history. 4

Additionally, the repository includes the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings. Until now, students of Watergate, too young to have seen the hearings live, have had to rely on transcripts of the hearings, and sound bites of testimony from John Dean, Alexander Butterfield, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman among others. Thanks to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), scholars and the public can experience the testimony of all the witnesses before the Senate Watergate Committee in context the way Americans did at the time.

There are some technical issues with the repository. None of the videos can be embedded into a website, and only the first week’s videos can be played on an iOS device. Hopefully, it is a minor glitch with a website or the operating system that AAPB and/or Apple will eventually fix. However, all the videos run well on Windows 10. I have viewed testimony on both my Surface 3 and my laptop. Despite this minor inconvenience, the AAPB has done a tremendous work digitizing, cataloging, and preserving the Senate Watergate Hearings and the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings

Links

 

Notes

1 Daniel Ellsberg, while a consultant for the RAND Corporation, a private think tank with close ties to the Defense Department, copied and then leaked to the New York Times The Pentagon Papers. See George C. Herring, ed., The Pentagon Papers: Abridged Edition. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), xv.

2 The Watergate Seven: E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Bernard L. Barker, Eugenio Martinez, Frank A. Sturgis, Virgilio R. Gonzales, and James W. McCord.

3 “James W. McCord Letter to Judge John Sirica March 23, 1973,” United States v. George Gordon Liddy, et al., C.R. 1827-72, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; NARA, College Park, MD http://watergate.info/1973/03/19/mccord-letter-to-judge-sirica.html

4 “Library and WGBH Acquire Historic TV Coverage of Senate Watergate Hearings,” Library of Congress, last modified November 3, 2017, https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-17-167/library-and-wgbh-acquire-historic-tv-coverage-of-senate-watergate-hearings/2017-11-03/