Tag: Civil War (US) (1861-65)

Confederate Battle Flag in the Capitol: A ‘Jarring’ First in U.S. History

A Muslim American college student said he had fought back tears when he saw the image of a Trump supporter carrying the Confederate battle flag through the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday. A Black Senate aide who for years has walked confidently through the halls of Congress said his feelings of safety had crumbled […]

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The Capitol Takeover That Wasn’t

Still, the murmurs continued. A Virginia congressman, Muscoe Garnett, kept accusing Lincoln of “tyranny,” even though Lincoln had not even arrived yet. While the chaplain was praying, Garnett stormed out, loudly denouncing the proceedings and stamping his feet. Hauntingly, a reporter in The Times said that the tantrum resembled the histrionics of a famous Shakespearean […]

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We Need a Second Great Migration

Of course questions — and doubts — abound about such a proposal. Questions like: Isn’t the proposal racist on its face? No. The point here is not to impose a new racial hierarchy, but to remove an existing one. Race, as we have come to understand it, is a fiction; but, racism, as we have […]

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What Trump Shares With the ‘Lost Cause’ of the Confederacy

Wednesday morning, President Trump urged a crowd of supporters who showed up in Washington, D.C., to “walk down to the Capitol” and protest the certification of the election taking place nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue. A few hours later, he stood in the White House Rose Garden to deliver a different message after members of this […]

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Abolition Is Not Complete

By this time, Congress had enacted, over Johnson’s veto, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which mandated racial equality in judicial punishments, and had approved the 14th Amendment, requiring states to provide to all people the “equal protection of the laws.” These, senators thought, would prevent the use of the courts to victimize African-Americans, rendering […]

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Thanksgiving Is a Celebration of Freedom

As with so much in our lives, Thanksgiving has become a cultural battleground. Politicians and pundits debate whether we should use the day to memorialize the tragedy of the Indians or to celebrate the new liberties of the Pilgrims in America. Yet the true origins of Thanksgiving have little to do with the Pilgrims and […]

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Enslaved, Terrorized, Disenfranchised: Black Americans Still Found Ways to Change America

SOUTH TO FREEDOM Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil WarBy Alice L. Baumgartner THE KIDNAPPING CLUBWall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil WarBy Jonathan Daniel Wells One night in May 1861, mere weeks after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, S.C., three enslaved men rowed a skiff […]

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For Biden, Defeating Trump Is Just the Beginning

“I speak the password primeval . . . . I give the sign of democracy,” wrote Walt Whitman in “Song of Myself.” “By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.” One of our greatest poets sought the deepest forms of democracy, where people are completely unleashed […]

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How Lincoln Survived the Worst Election Ever

Long before Covid-19, Alexis de Tocqueville described a presidential election as a form of sickness in which the body politic became dangerously “feverish” before returning to normal. Emotions ran too hot, and the fragile forms of consensus that were essential for democracy — what Tocqueville called our “habits of the heart” — evaporated, as party […]

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Virginia Governor Can Remove Robert E. Lee Statue, but Not Yet, Judge Rules

A towering statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia’s capital that survived a summer of Confederate monument toppling can be removed, a state judge ruled on Tuesday. The judge, W. Reilly Marchant of Richmond Circuit Court, affirmed orders issued in June by the state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, directing the removal of the 21-foot statue, […]

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Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Statue Can Come Down, but Not Yet, Judge Rules

A towering statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia’s capital that survived a summer of Confederate monument toppling can be removed, a state judge ruled on Tuesday. The judge, W. Reilly Marchant of Richmond Circuit Court, affirmed orders issued in June by the state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, directing the removal of the 21-foot statue, […]

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Book Review: ‘The Zealot and the Emancipator,’ by H.W. Brands

THE ZEALOT AND THE EMANCIPATORJohn Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American FreedomBy H. W. Brands Late in 1859, news of John Brown’s failed raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry alarmed Abraham Lincoln, and his dismay worsened when prominent Northerners celebrated Brown as a saint. For five years, Lincoln had been working […]

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Mellon Foundation to Spend $250 Million to Reimagine Monuments

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the United States, has pledged to spend $250 million over five years to help reimagine the country’s approach to monuments and memorials, in an effort to better reflect the nation’s diversity and highlight buried or marginalized stories. The Monuments Project, the largest initiative in the […]

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A Counter to Confederate Monuments, Black Cemeteries Tell a Fuller Story of the South

Maggie L. Walker, one of the first Black American women to run a bank, is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond, Va. So is John Mitchell Jr., editor of The Richmond Planet, a crusading newspaper founded by former slaves. Benjamin Franklin Randolph, a South Carolina state senator gunned down amid the white backlash against Reconstruction […]

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Searching for the Real Abraham Lincoln

ABEAbraham Lincoln in His TimesBy David S. Reynolds Of the 16,000 books produced about Abraham Lincoln since his death 155 years ago, not one, in the view of the historian and biographer David S. Reynolds, fits the definition of a “full-scale cultural biography.” Reynolds, the author or editor of 16 books on 19th-century America, has […]

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Amid the Monument Wars, a Rally for ‘More History’

On Saturday, a group of about 30 mustered under drizzly skies at the edge of the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa. The site of one of the bloodiest and most important battles of the Civil War, Gettysburg has seen its share of clashes over the memory of the war in recent years. But this group was […]

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A Civil War Political Movement Reawakens — Complete With Capes

In January, the artist Hank Willis Thomas began enigmatically summoning designers, musicians and activists he knew to his studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was working on something big, bringing a force of history back to life. “I didn’t even know why he was asking me to come by,” the artist Wildcat Ebony Brown […]

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Confederate Statue Near Site of White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville Is Removed

With yellow bands and rope wrapped around its legs, waist and ankles, a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va., the site of a violent white supremacist rally in 2017, was removed on Saturday morning from its pedestal at the Albemarle County courthouse after 111 years. The removal of the monument, “At Ready,” which depicts a Confederate […]

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The Trauma of the Civil War Lives On in Faulkner’s Fiction

THE SADDEST WORDS William Faulkner’s Civil WarBy Michael Gorra In July, at his memorial service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the Honorable John Lewis was eulogized by three presidents. The sitting president was not among them. His absence was yet another assertion of the anti-Black hostility and xenophobia fouling the polity with renewed vigor. […]

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The South’s Fight for White Supremacy

He had tried, and failed, once before. In 1859, the Virginian Edward Alfred Pollard, a journalist and Southern partisan, had published a defense of slavery, “Black Diamonds Gathered in the Darkey Homes of the South.” Then came the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, which abolished the […]

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We Need a Monument to the Unknown America

In Rome’s Palatine Museum, built atop the excavation site of Emperor Domitian’s palace and not far from imperial residences of Tiberius and Augustus, there is a curious bit of masonry that was rediscovered in 1820. This artifact is exhibited alongside terra cotta heads of Jupiter and marble sculptures of Apollo, all of the grand detritus […]

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Massachusetts Court Won’t Use Term ‘Grandfathering,’ Citing Its Racist Origins

A wine organization announced in June that it would no longer use the term “master” to refer to its high-ranking experts. This month, lawmakers in New Jersey said county elected officials should be called “commissioners” instead of “freeholders,” a word that dates to a time when only white males could own land. And on Monday, […]

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The Reconciliation Must Be Televised

When someone wants to explain where the country’s been since Memorial Day, they refer to The Moment. “The Moment,” at first, seemed to name a finite period, the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and the moments his death comprised. “The Moment” then proved spongy quick, absorbing the bewildering madness of the deaths of […]

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A Virginia Town Built Around Confederate Generals Re-Examines Its Identity

LEXINGTON, Va. — It’s a short drive in Lexington from a home on Confederate Circle past the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and over to the Robert E. Lee Hotel, where locals like to stop for a drink. There may be tourists there looking for directions to the Lee Chapel, or one of the two Stonewall […]

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Someone Tore Down a Union Army Statue in Saratoga Springs. Why?

Early on Thursday morning, the police in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., found a cast iron and zinc statue torn down from its stone pedestal in Congress Park and scattered in pieces on the grass. The statue is one of dozens that have been torn down across the United States in recent weeks amid widespread protests against […]

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Pentagon Sidesteps Trump to Ban the Confederate Flag

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, without once mentioning the word “Confederate,” announced a policy on Friday that essentially bans displays of the Confederate flag on military installations around the world. In a carefully worded memo that Defense Department officials said they hoped would avoid igniting another defense of the flag from President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark […]

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How Joe Biden Can Address the Monuments Issue

On July 9, former Vice President Joseph Biden announced a new slogan for his campaign: “Build Back Better.” In economic terms the tag line makes sense even if it lacks moral inspiration. It complements the call others have made for a “Building Back Freer” Covid-19 recovery process that both incorporates our current racial reassessment in […]

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North Carolina City Approves Reparations for Black Residents

As Americans debate how far the country should go to make amends for slavery and other racial injustices, a conversation reawakened by the killing of George Floyd, a city in North Carolina has taken the first step: It approved reparations for Black residents. The city, Asheville, N.C., will provide funding to programs geared toward increasing […]

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Rename theMilitary Bases That Honor Confederates

African-Americans were nonpersons in the eyes of the state when the federal government started to name U.S. Army installations for Confederate officers. Black people in the South were being lynched with impunity for such offenses as seeking the vote, competing with white people in business or simply failing to give way on the sidewalk. In […]

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Time Capsule Found in North Carolina Confederate Monument

As North Carolina crew workers picked away at a 75-foot Confederate monument on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh — using a crane to lift it piece by piece — they found something else underneath. As they removed the remainder of the monument’s base, they discovered a rusted metal time capsule that was buried beneath the […]

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