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April, 2011

Please join me in welcoming this blog’s second sponsor, Blue & Gray Magazine, published in Columbus by Dave and Jason Roth, who are long-time friends. I’ve added Blue & Gray to the sponsors list.

There is no better magazine out there for those interested in battlefield stomping.

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This little beauty, published in today’s Opalika-Auburn News Reader, amply proves that the Lost Cause remains alive and well. Here’s some lovely neo-Confederate hooey for you, courtesy of the SCV:

Letter: South forced into ‘shotgun wedding’ with the North
By Opelika-Auburn News Reader
Published: April 26, 2011

Not only is Wayne Snow’s column on the April 15 Opinion page factually incorrect, the caption for the article is outlandish. It should have read: “Outcome of War for Southern Independence Moved Nation from a Free Republic to an Imperialistic Socialist Empire”… The founders of our country had no intentions of these states united becoming “aggressive abroad and despotic at home” … which are the exact words that the brilliant and honorable Gen. Robert E. Lee used to prophetically describe what would become of the U.S. after the South was subdued and forced back into a shotgun wedding with the North.

I submit to you, sir, the truth of the matter: The South is not united with the current federal government. It is held in the so-called Union at the point of a bayonet.

Overwhelming manpower and resources settled nothing, except to prove that one section can be subjugated and coerced by the sheer force of arms. Ideologically, the nation is still divided as much today, if not more, than it was in 1862.

If slavery was the defining issue of the war, as you have tried to imply, then why did the South not just stay in the union and ratify the original 13th Amendment, which was worded to keep slavery legal in perpetuity?

The war was not caused by slavery any more than the American Revolution was cause by tea. Abraham Lincoln is the one and only cause of the needless deaths of nearly 620,000 Americans. Apparently you have not read or have chosen to ignore the incontrovertible and well-documented true history of the war researched and put into print by Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.” Perhaps you should do a little factual research yourself before you again try turning real history upside down.

W.G. Anthony

2nd Lt. Commander

Tallassee Armory Guards

SCV Camp 1921

A DiLorenzo disciple holding forth. Lovely, just lovely.

This is yet another example of why we need to remain vigilant and fight this neo-Confederate hooey wherever we find it.

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Old friend and fellow cav guy Pat Brennan sent along the press release for his cool new project:

net – The 24/7 3D Network From Sony, Discovery and IMAX – Announces the Start of Principal Photography on the World’s First Native 3D War Documentary Series

– Groundbreaking Four-Part Civil War Series To Utilize Scripted Reenactments And Digitized Stereoscopic Stills To Bring Historic Conflict To Life –

CULVER CITY, Calif., April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — 3net, the joint venture 24/7 3D network from Sony, Discovery and IMAX have begun principal photography on the world’s first native 3D War Documentary, it was announced today by Tom Cosgrove, President & CEO of 3net. THE CIVIL WAR 3D*, the most ambitious 3D series ever produced for television, will transport viewers back in time, retelling the war’s most pivotal moments both on and off the battlefields from the unique perspective of both sides in the historic conflict. The four-hour miniseries is scheduled to debut on the network in Fall 2011.

“Shooting in native 3D gives us the unique ability to bring an entirely new level of depth and emotion to this epic time in history with groundbreaking storytelling that simply hasn’t been possible until now,” said Cosgrove. “As well, THE CIVIL WAR 3D series further reflects our ongoing mission to provide the kind of immersive in-home 3D experience available nowhere else on television.”

David W. Padrusch, Director of THE CIVIL WAR 3D for Towers Productions, LLC, who is also serving as Executive Producer along with the company’s founder and chief creative officer, Jonathan Towers, added, “Our editorial and technical approach to telling the story of the Civil War is unlike anything previously undertaken. Jonathan and I will bring the prism of 3D technology to first-person accounts of battlefield experiences as a way of exploring the humanity and the complexity of motivations of soldiers on both sides of the war.”

“The lifeblood of any historical recreation is the research,” said Patrick Brennan, who serves as historical consultant and co-writer of THE CIVIL WAR 3D and is also the author of Secessionville: Assault on Charleston. “The 1st Virginia and 20th Massachusetts regiments participated in nearly every major battle in the Easter Theater, and the men in these units gave us authentic and haunting first-hand insights into America’s darkest days.”

THE CIVIL WAR 3D will magnify the epic fight for liberty, patriotism and democracy by resurrecting the intimate accounts of the brave men on the front lines. This landmark native 3D series will give viewers unique insight into both the Northern and Southern experience. By paralleling personal stories from soldiers in counter regiments, the Union’s Massachusetts 20th and the Confederate’s Virginia 1st, THE CIVIL WAR 3D will show the agony and determination endured through camp life, training, and all-out war.

Detailed letters from Union soldier Henry Livermore Abbott, who would die in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, will be juxtaposed with Confederate cadet Charles Loehr, whose eloquent memoirs reveal similar sentiments from the South. Viewers will witness how their differences in beliefs, strategy, artillery and support influenced the conflict’s final outcome.
Utilizing specially digitized stereoscopic archival imagery from the period, scripted reenactments and character narrative, THE CIVIL WAR 3D promises to bring audiences a “closest to real” experience that only native 3D can deliver. Towers Productions, LLC will produce the series with Executive Producers Jonathan Towers and David W. Padrusch. Padrusch will also direct the series. Tim Pastore will serve as Executive Producer on behalf of 3net.

* Denotes working title

About 3net

3net, the joint venture of Sony Corporation, Discovery Communications and IMAX Corporation brings together three of the world’s leading media, technology and entertainment companies to provide the nation’s first and only fully programmed, 24/7 3D network. The three partners deliver an extraordinary collection of award-winning 3D content, technology and production expertise, television distribution and operational strength to the project, with a mission to bring viewers the highest quality and most immersive in-home 3D viewing experience possible. The channel will feature the most extensive library of 3D content in the world by the end of 2011, featuring genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, documentary, action/adventure, travel, history, hyper-reality, lifestyle and cuisine, concerts, movies, scripted series and more. 3net is currently available on DIRECTV channel 107. For more information, please visit www.3net.com.

SOURCE 3net

RELATED LINKS

http://www.3net.com

Sounds interesting, and I look forward to checking it out. Good luck with it, Pat.

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This photo, taken last Sunday on the steps of the Ohio State House at the Ohio Civil War 150 kick-off event, which featured a speech by Wes Cowan of The Antiques Roadshow, pretty much leaves me speechless. Apparently, there was another event going on downtown at the same time….

UPDATE, APRIL 18, 2011: I’ve gotten a piece of hate mail from a fellow member of the Sesquicentennial Commission, slamming me big time for posting this photo. He says it makes the re-enactors look bad and that it also makes the Commission look bad. While I am not a re-enactor and personally don’t get it, I have plenty of friends who are re-enactors who take it very seriously by trying to get it right, and it was never my intention to offend any of them. My intention was to take a photo that HAD ALREADY SPREAD ACROSS THE INTERNET by the time I saw it, and have a little bit of fun with it. As I told him, if he takes himself so seriously as a re-enactor that he can’t have a laugh at a silly, funny picture, then that’s a real shame

As for the Commission: My membership on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on the Civil War is a matter of great pride for me. It’s important to me to have been asked to serve on the Commission, as I think that I have something to offer. I take that responsibility VERY seriously, although I try never to take myself too seriously (although I admittedly don’t always succeed).

Unfortunately, I could not attend the event, as I had already committed to do the event in Greencastle, PA months before the idea for this event was even cooked up. I felt it would be disingenuous to brag about an event I could not and did not attend, and at the same time, I wanted to let it be known that we can all have a little fun with this stuff, that there’s no reason to be as serious as a heart attack about it all the time. It certainly was not intended to belittle the effort that went into planning and executing the event–which was substantial–or to disrespect anyone who participated in it. If any other of my fellow Commission members–other than the member who sent me the hate mail–were offended by my having a little fun with this, then I apologize for offending you. However, I do not, and will not, apologize for thinking that it’s okay not to take ourselves–and the commemoration of the Sesquicentennial–too seriously.

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I wanted to take a moment to welcome the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop as the first official sponsor of this blog. Please visit the ALB website. And thanks to the ALB for agreeing to be a sponsor of this blog.

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Part of the fun of doing the Forgotten Cavalrymen series is bringing forgotten heroes back into the spotlight. I take great pleasure in doing that. However, it’s also great fun to commemorate a scoundrel every now and again. I’ve done that a few times in the past, such as when I profiled Col. Sir Percy Wyndham and Col. Napoleon Bonaparte Knight. Today, we’re going to profile another.

William d'Alton MannHaving spent so much time working on the Michigan Cavalry Brigade over the years, I was of course familiar with the first colonel of the 7th Michigan Cavalry, William d’Alton Mann. When I was finishing up the revision to my 2002 book Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863, I decided to see if I couldn’t add just a little bit of personal information on Mann to the manuscript, so I did a little digging. And wow, was I surprised at what I found. Colonel Mann was a world-class scoundrel with a fascinating story that just begged to be told here. So, here goes….

William d’Alton Mann was born in Sandusky, Ohio on September 27, 1839, of what he described as “Puritan stock.” His father’s name was William R. Mann, a staunch Jeffersonian Democrat who was a veteran of the War of 1812. Young William was one of 13 children, including a brother named Eugene who was born as late as 1855. That year, the family relocated to Adrian, Michigan. After studying civil engineering, Mann settled in New York City in 1858, where he met and made the acquaintance of a burly, wealthy South Carolina planter named Wade Hampton.

In 1858, Mann celebrated both his 19th birthday as well as the birth of his daughter, Emma, having married somewhere along the way. The next year, a relative died and Mann inherited about 100 acres of farmland near Grafton, Ohio. The property featured a run-down inn that Mann re-opened upon his return from New York. He abandoned the project in 1861, leaving behind lots of debt and the first of many failed business ventures.

After the surrender of Fort Sumter, Mann sought and obtained a commission as a captain in the 1st Michigan Cavalry, which became a fine, reliable unit. He enlisted in Detroit on August 22, 1861. Led by Col. Thornton Brodhead, the 1st Michigan fought against Stonewall Jackson’s army during the 1862 Valley Campaign, and then participated in the Second Bull Run Campaign, where the first brigade-sized cavalry battle occurred (Brodhead was mortally wounded in this fight, at the Lewis Ford on Bull Run, which was the closing engagement of the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862). Not long after the end of the Second Bull Run Campaign, the cavalry brigade that included the 1st Michigan Cavalry was assigned to serve in the defenses of Washington, D.C. It spent most the winter and spring of 1863 chasing after Maj. John Singleton Mosby’s Rangers.

Mann later claimed that he was a leading advocate of the theory that the Union cavalry should include mounted infantrymen, and he was detailed to Detroit to help raise a new regiment that became the 5th Michigan Cavalry, and was appointed its lieutenant colonel on August 14, 1862. He also claimed that he provided the suggestion that the men of the 5th Michigan be armed with seven-shot Spencer repeating rifles, a weapon that the 5th Michigan used to great effect during the summer of 1863. He was then assigned to raise another new unit, which became the 7th Michigan Cavalry. “During all of that time I served without pay and paid my own expenses,” he claimed years later. “By the way, the Government has never paid me yet for that service, and I presume never will. I forgave it, because I got reward enough in the splendid record” achieved by the 7th Michigan. Mann was commissioned colonel of the 7th Michigan on November 1, 1862.

Three new regiments–the 5th, 6th, and 7th Michigan Cavalry Regiments–were brigaded with the 1st Michigan to form the Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the winter of 1863. Brig. Gen. Joseph T. Copeland, the original colonel of the 5th Michigan, commanded the brigade, which was part of a division commanded by Maj. Gen. Julius D. Stahel. On May 28, 1863, Mann took on Mosby and his Rangers near Catlett’s Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Mann led an aggressive saber charge against Mosby’s command that was repulsed by the fire of Mosby’s mountain howitzer. Mann rallied his troopers and led them in two more charges before Mosby’s command ran out of ammunition and withdrew. “It was the main Mosby engagement in Virginia, the only time he stood and made a determined fight against a Union force,” boasted Mann years later, after Mosby’s death.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, the temporary commander of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, craved Stahel’s division to augment his Corps, but Stahel outranked him, and if the division joined the Cavalry Corps, Stahel would get Corps command by virtue of seniority, something that Pleasonton was bound and determined to prevent from happening. After some political conniving, Pleasonton succeeded in getting Stahel relieved of command, the division assigned to the Cavalry Corps, and assigned Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick to command it. Pleasonton also arranged for two of his staff officers, Capts. Elon J. Farnsworth and George A. Custer, to be promoted to brigadier general in order to assume command of the two brigades. Custer was assigned to command the Michigan Brigade.

The 7th Michigan, under its new brigade commander, fought in the June 30, 1863 Battle of Hanover, and had some slight involvement in the July 2 encounter at Hunterstown. However, the 7th Michigan had its great moment the next day, July 3, during the fighting for East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg. Along with the 1st Michigan Cavalry, the 7th Michigan had been held in reserve during the brutal dismounted fighting for the Rummel farm buildings that occupied most of the day on July 3. During the afternoon phase of the battle, Col. John R. Chambliss, Jr.’s brigade of Confederate cavalry (actually Brig. Gen. W. H. F. Lee’s brigade, but Lee was wounded and had been captured) made a mounted charge. Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg called for Mann and ordered him to charge with the 7th Michigan. With Custer leading the way, bellowing, “Come on, you Wolverines!”, Mann and his men drew sabers and charged, crashing into the Confederates and getting tangled up in a stout fence line that separated the troopers of both sides. Mann’s Wolverines broke up and blunted Chambliss’ charge, prompting Custer to write, “Colonel Mann is entitled to much credit” when he penned his report of the campaign.

Gettysburg marked the zenith of Mann’s military career–the charge on East Cavalry Field was clearly his finest hour. Mann led his regiment through the retreat from Gettysburg, and then back into Virginia. Like the rest of Kilpatrick’s division, the Wolverines broke and ran during the rout of the Union cavalry by Jeb Stuart’s cavaliers at Buckland Mills on October 19, 1863, a debacle that became known as the Buckland Races. Mann led his Wolverines into the winter encampment of the Army of the Potomac near Brandy Station in Culpeper County, Virginia. On March 1, 1864, Mann resigned his commission and received his discharge from the army. He did, however, ride with the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac in May 1865.

Mann resigned his commission because he had invented and patented a gizmo that was intended to help balance out the weapons carried by cavalrymen in the field, and had some success. He sold 20,000 of them to the army and started the Mann Patent Accoutrement Company. This venture soon failed, but not for lack of effort on Mann’s behalf. He spent most of the summer and fall of 1864 visiting Union camps, trying to peddle his wares and visiting with his old comrades from the Cavalry Corps. When the company failed, he turned his attention to a new industry–oil, which had recently been discovered near Titusville, Pennsylvania.

He solicited investors (including five former brigadier generals and Col. Russell Alger, the former commander of the 5th Michigan Cavalry) to start an oil company and raised a large sum of money to do so. He purchased some useless land near Titusville, but the company never launched, and he was eventually charged with theft by deception and tried for the felony. Mann was acquitted of the felony charges after a trial of nearly two months’ duration. He was called a swindler for years after this, even though he was never convicted of a crime.

Mann then settled in Mobile, Alabama, where he purchased and published the Mobile Register newspaper. He ran for Congress as a Democrat and received a majority of votes,but was denied the victory by carpetbaggers in the state government, and was considered to be a carpetbagger himself. He was not a gracious loser, which did not endear him to the local citizenry. Mann eventually sold the newspaper to focus his energies on a new invention, this time a luxury sleeping car for railroads. Although not well-built, the Mann sleepers were important innovations that included hallways to pass from car to car. Mann obtained a patent for his invention and went head-to-head with the Pullman company. Like his other business ventures, the railroad car venture also failed, and the Mann Boudoir Car Company went out of business after its assets were sold.

Mann then moved to London for a decade, where he came upon the idea of founding and publishing a gossip-based periodical based on some of the British tabloids. He returned to New York and established Town Topics, which was “dedicated to art, music, literature, and society.” It soon became a scandal sheet, faithfully reporting high-society peccadilloes and often identifying perpetrators by name. Mann himself wrote the real gossip column, called “Saunterings,” using the pseudonym “The Saunterer.” The Saunterer’s identity was not very well hidden.

Mann declared war on the monied class. “I believe that the possession of great wealth, the presence of continual luxury and an existence of a sybaritic case are sufficient to lead voluptuous natures into a system of sensual gratification more intensely and ingeniously base than is found in the humbler walks of life,” he proclaimed in 1891. “The Four Hundred [the wealthiest and most influential members of New York society] is an element so shallow and unhealthy that it deserves to be derided almost incessantly.” And Mann did just that with his weekly publication.

Mann’s wealthy targets could buy their way out of his crosshairs–an ample donation could get a story spiked and put the donor on Mann’s “immune” list. The main method used by the Saunterer was to print an innocuous article with the name of the individual on which it had a piece of hot gossip. The other side of the page included a blind piece going into the scandal without the name of the person involved. By separating the identification and the scandal separately, Mann managed to avoid liability for extortion and libel.

In 1904, Mann took aim at Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was just beginning her career as a socialite. “From wearing costly lingerie to indulging in fancy dances for the edification of men was only a step. And then came—second step—indulging freely in stimulants. Flying all around Newport without a chaperon was another thing that greatly concerned Mother Grundy. There may have been no reason for the old lady making such a fuss about it, but if the young woman knew some of the tales that are told at the clubs at Newport she would be more careful in the future about what she does and how she does it,” wrote Mann. “They are given to saying almost anything at the Reading Room, but I was really surprised to hear her name mentioned openly there in connection with that of a certain multi-millionaire of the colony and with certain doings that gentle people are not supposed to discuss. They also said that she should not have listened to the risqué jokes told her by the son of one of her Newport hostesses.” Mann’s bullying of Alice Roosevelt infuriated a lot of wealthy and powerful people, who vowed revenge.

The Alice Roosevelt episode was just one of many instances where Mann’s Saunterings wreaked havoc on the lives of the rich and famous of the Gilded Age. This was a time when the wealthiest members of society did all they could to remain out of the unblinking view of the public eye. Mann was hated by most and feared by all, and they held their noses and paid his extortions to keep their names out of Saunterings.

In 1905, Mann badly miscalculated by blackmailing Emily Post’s husband, Edwin. Post was a struggling Wall Street stockbroker mired in an unhappy marriage. Mann learned that Edwin Post was supporting a Broadway dancer in a Connecticut love nest. Mann demanded that Post pay $500 to kill the story, but Post did not have the funds to do so. Instead, he confessed to Emily. Instead of paying the requested hush money, Emily Post instead advised her husband to contact the district attorney and set up a sting operation. Mann’s agent, Charles P. Ahle, was arrested in Post’s Wall Street office on July 11, 1905, and he was prosecuted and convicted of extortion.

Reacting to the prosecution of Ahle, Collier’s magazine published a series of harshly worded articles disclosing that Mann had been paying a city juvenile court judge, Joseph Deuel, to vet Town Topics. Norman Hapgood, the editor of Collier’s, tried to bait Mann into suing the magazine, but the Colonel would not take the bait. Instead, Deuel filed a libel suit against Hapgood that went to trial, providing entertaining headlines for weeks. The testimony adduced demonstrated that Deuel was, indeed, on Mann’s payroll, and the jury took just seven minutes to find Deuel not liable. Mann testified at the trial, and was crucified. His extortion schemes were exposed, as was his employment of a sitting judge to vet the content of his publication. During his testimony, Mann also denied signing a document that placed someone on his exempt list, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. After the trial, the district attorney then preferred perjury charges against Mann. He was tried and acquitted of the felony charges, once more dodging a prison sentence, but the trial pretty much wrecked Town Topics as a profitable business. However, Town Topics continued on, with the Colonel still penning Saunterings, and did not cease publication until more than a decade after Mann’s death.

Mann also founded a literary magazine called The Smart Set in 1900. The Smart Set was founded to publish fiction by The Four Hundred as a means of entree into society by Mann, and he ran the publication profitably for 11 years. He sold it in 1911, and the publication continued in print until it finally failed in July 1930. Authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, O. Henry, and many other literary lights all graced its pages. Mann was rightly proud of The Smart Set.

To his credit, Mann offered to publish Asa B. Isham’s history of the 7th Michigan Cavalry at his own expense for free distribution to the alumni of the regiment. The book was published by the Town Topics Publishing Company in 1893. The book included a register of the regiment’s officers and an identification of the members of the unit who did not survive the war. He was also an active member of the Loyal Legion of Military Order of the United States and the Army and Navy Club, and was justifiably proud of his service in the Civil War.

William d’Alton Mann died of complications of pneumonia at the age of 81 at his home in Morristown, New Jersey, in May 1920. His funeral was held at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Manhattan. An American flag draped his coffin, which was adorned with the Colonel’s Gettysburg saber. Three colonels and a major general attended the service, and a bugler from the 7th Michigan Cavalry played Taps. Mann was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. He was described as “a rousing, bouncing, noisy, vigorous, open-hearted, choleric, old man.” Possessed of a keen intellect and a swindler’s soul, William d’Alton Mann is remembered as the man who robbed the robber barons.

Here’s to the scoundrel, Col. William d’Alton Mann, forgotten cavalryman and extortionist.

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Developer Matt Raymond dropped me a line a few weeks back to let me know that he was completing development of a nifty Civil War app for the iPad, and I told him that when it’s ready, he should let me know, and I would pass along the information about it here on the blog. Matt let me know that the app is not only ready, but that it has actually launched. Here’s the press release:

“HISTORY 3D” iPad App Offers Historic 3D Photos in Honor of Civil War Anniversary

“HISTORY 3D” iPad app offers historic 3D photos in honor of Civil War anniversary; images to be donated to Library of Congress, public domain.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 11, 2011

A new iPad app available today in the App Store offers an exciting and immersive experience for enthusiasts of history and 3D images, but it also provides a gift to the nation.

Launched to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War on April 12, “HISTORY 3D: Civil War” is the first in a series of iPad apps that will offer scores of photos in 3D anaglyph format (red/cyan) for viewers to explore. It is expected that hundreds of anaglyphs will be created during the development of successive apps.

The photographs come exclusively from the collections of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, which holds tens of thousands of stereographic images. Most of the images are derived from the original glass-plate negatives of photography legends such as Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan and George N. Barnard.

While the newly created anaglyphs, which combine the original left and right halves of stereographs, could conceivably be copyrighted, they instead will be donated to the Library of Congress, free of charge, for release into the public domain and eventual display online. The Library is planning to display selected images on its website and its popular Flickr page.

HISTORY 3D was conceived by Matt Raymond, who until recently was communications director at the Library of Congress and is credited with helping spearhead the Library’s leading role in social media among government agencies and cultural institutions. It was developed along with Mike Silvers of iggyco.com, an iPhone and iPad development company in Salisbury, Md.

“Many of the iconic Civil War images in the Library of Congress have been familiar to me and millions of other people in 2D, but the added dimension of HISTORY 3D makes it feel like you’re seeing them for the first time,” Raymond said. “Your iPad is now your time machine.”

“HISTORY 3D: Civil War” is available in the App Store for 99 cents through April 16 (the week of the aforementioned anniversary of the start of the Civil War), after which time the price will be $1.99.

Two dozen iconic images are presented in a page-turner format, along with pop-up context and commentary, are included. Additional sets of images focusing on key Civil War battles and topics, and other major historical events, will also be released.

HISTORY 3D will also take part in the App Store’s Volume Purchase Program, which offers discounts to educational institutions.

“During my time at the Library of Congress, I saw the power of primary-source materials in getting young people more excited about and engaged with history in ways that text books couldn’t match,” Raymond said.

“I hope HISTORY 3D’s innovative presentation of these remarkable photographs will spark curiosity about our nation’s past, and help us see that ‘history’ and ‘fun’ don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

HISTORY 3D is not an official app of the Library of Congress.

PROMO TRAILER at http://www.history3d.us

CONTACT: MIMA Studios

http://www.facebook.com/history3d

1 (888) 377-7754

Then last night, Matt let me know that the new app is already the second highest ranked app in the education store. Congratulations, Matt!

Check this nifty little application out, iPad users!

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board got it right and rejected LeVan’s second attempt to put a grossly inappropriate casino near the battlefield at Gettysburg.

Here’s the press release from the CWT:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2011

For more information, contact:
Jim Campi, (202) 367-1861 x7205
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231

PROPOSED GETTYSBURG CASINO LOCATION REJECTED BY PENNSYLVANIA GAMING CONTROL BOARD

Civil War Trust praises board for its enduring commitment to protecting this hallowed ground

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – Following today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to reject a second proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park, Civil War Trust president Jim Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“Both personally, and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their thoughtful deliberation and insightful decision. By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, they have reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation.

“This is a great day, not just for Gettysburg, but for all historic sites. However, we must remember that this proposal was just a symptom of a larger problem — the numerous irreplaceable sites similarly besieged by ill-considered development. I am confident that those seeking to protect priceless treasures of our past will be empowered by this victory for historic preservation, and I hope that its spirit will be carried forth in other communities facing similar questions of encroachment.

“Sadly, this was not the first time that the Gaming Board was forced to weigh the possibility of gaming with a Gettysburg address. Now that two such proposals have been denied — clearly demonstrating the resonant power this iconic site and the widespread desire to protect it — I sincerely hope that those would seek personal profit and financial gain will think twice about trading on the blood of 50,000 American casualties.

“Now, as ever, the Civil War Trust and its allies stand ready to work on behalf of Gettysburg and the other deathless fields that shaped the legacy of our nation, particularly as we begin the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War. We are exceptionally pleased to have the support and cooperation of visionary government bodies, like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, that understand the singular significance of such sites to aid our efforts.”

Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition — an early April survey by a nationally renowned polling and research firm found that only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the idea, with 66 percent actively opposed and 57 percent indicating that such a facility would be “an embarrassment” to the Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of petitions were submitted against the project and nearly 300 prominent historians united to urge its rejection, as did the national leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the American Legion. Other prominent Americans who lent their name to the campaign to protect Gettysburg include Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, renowned composer John Williams and entertainers Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang and Sam Waterston. In 2005, citing public outcry, the Gaming Board likewise rejected a plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states— including 800 at Gettysburg. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.

Now, hopefully, the proposed legislation will be passed to prevent this from ever coming up again, and that will be the end of it for good. Take a hike, LeVan. Pack up your Harley dealership and go elsewhere.

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Regular readers of this blog know of my great affection for the Brandy Station battlefield, and also of my affection for the great work done for decades now by the Brandy Station Foundation to preserve the battlefield. Last year, its co-founder, Clark B. “Bud” Hall, resumed the presidency and assembled an excellent board of qualified individuals and historians dedicated to battlefield preservation. Bud and his board re-focused the organization on its fundamental mission: preserving battlefield land in Culpeper County, Virginia. However, Bud is a busy guy with lots of commitments, and, having tried to re-focus the organization, he decided not to seek re-election.

Instead, the BSF has elected Joseph McKinney, a former Army officer, as president. I have a GREAT deal of concerns about Mr. McKinney’s dedication to battlefield preservation. Here on this very blog, he defended the construction of a huge, ugly McMansion on Fleetwood Hill by a local landowner. Then, he wrote a letter to the Washington Post that appeared to defend the Wilderness Wal-Mart project. Finally, he participated in a relic hunt on the Beauregard farm—part of the Brandy Station battlefield–several weeks ago. These actions on his part suggest that he is not as fully committed to preservation of battlefield land as one might expect of the incoming president of a battlefield preservation advocacy organization.

The result is that eight board members resigned their positions in protest of his assuming the presidency of the organization. That board members who are dedicated to battlefield preservation in Culpeper County were unwilling to remain as board members speaks volumes about why we should be concerned about the future course of the organization.

I will be watching Mr. McKinney’s actions VERY closely, and will not hesitate to call him out if he fails in his stewardship of this great organization. Be warned, Mr. McKinney–we’re watching you.

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Thanks to years of hard work by Lost Causers and neo-Confederates, the true cause of the Civil War–chattel slavery–has been obfuscated. That’s tragic, because it marginalizes an atrocity and takes the focus away from where it should be in an effort to put a human face on the horror of slavery.

This article from Time does a fine job of explaining why it’s important to keep our eye on the ball here and why it’s important to continue to fight the good fight against this nonsense:

The Way We Weren’t
By DAVID VON DREHLE

A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: “One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.”

It was not a controversial statement at the time. Indeed, Southern leaders were saying similar things during those fateful days. But 150 years later, Americans have lost that clarity about the cause of the Civil War, the most traumatic and transformational event in U.S. history, which left more than 625,000 dead – more Americans killed than in both world wars combined.

Shortly before the Fort Sumter anniversary, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,500 adults across the country, asking what the North and South were fighting about. A majority, including two-thirds of white respondents in the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, answered that the South was mainly motivated by “states’ rights” rather than the future of slavery. (See “A Union Divided: The South Still Split on Civil War Legacy.”)

The question “What caused the Civil War?” returns 20?million Google hits and a wide array of arguments on Internet comment boards and discussion threads. The Civil War was caused by Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation. Or it was caused by high tariffs. Or it was caused by blundering statesmen. Or it was caused by the clash of industrial and agrarian cultures. Or it was caused by fanatics. Or it was caused by the Marxist class struggle.

On and on, seemingly endless, sometimes contradictory – although not among mainstream historians, who in the past generation have come to view the question much as Lincoln saw it. “Everything stemmed from the slavery issue,” says Princeton professor James McPherson, whose book Battle Cry of Freedom is widely judged to be the authoritative one-volume history of the war. Another leading authority, David Blight of Yale, laments, “No matter what we do or the overwhelming consensus among historians, out in the public mind, there is still this need to deny that slavery was the cause of the war.”

It’s not simply a matter of denial. For most of the first century after the war, historians, novelists and filmmakers worked like hypnotists to soothe the posttraumatic memories of survivors and their descendants. Forgetting was the price of reconciliation, and Americans – those whose families were never bought or sold, anyway – were happy to pay it.

But denial plays a part, especially in the South. After the war, former Confederates wondered how to hold on to their due pride after a devastating defeat. They had fought long and courageously; that was beyond question. So they reverse-engineered a cause worthy of those heroics. They also sensed, correctly, that the end of slavery would confer a gloss of nobility, and bragging rights, on the North that it did not deserve. As Lincoln suggested in his second Inaugural Address, the entire nation, North and South, profited from slavery and then paid dearly for it.

The process of forgetting, and obscuring, was long and layered. Some of it was benign, but not all. It began with self-justifying memoirs by defeated Confederate leaders and was picked up by war-weary veterans on both sides who wanted to move on. In the devastated South, writers and historians kindled comforting stories of noble cavaliers, brilliant generals and happy slaves, all faithful to a glorious lost cause. In the prosperous North, where cities and factories began filling with freed slaves and their descendants, large audiences were happy to embrace this idea of a time when racial issues were both simple and distant.

History is not just about the past. It also reveals the present. And for generations of Americans after the Civil War, the present did not have room for that radical idea laid bare by the conflict: that all people really are created equal. That was a big bite to chew.

The once obvious truth of the Civil War does not imply that every soldier had slavery on his mind as he marched and fought. Many Southerners fought and died in gray never having owned a slave and never intending to own one. Thousands died in blue with no intention to set one free. But it was slavery that had broken one nation in two and fated its people to fight over whether it would be put back together again. The true story is not a tale of heroes on one side and villains on the other. Few true stories are. But it is a clear and straightforward story, and so is the tale of how that story became so complicated.

Bleeding Kansas

History textbooks say the Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter. The fact is, however, that the Founding Fathers saw the whole thing coming. They walked away from the Constitutional Convention fully aware that they had planted a time bomb; they hoped future leaders would find a way to defuse it before it exploded. As the Constitution was being written, James Madison observed, “It seems now to be pretty well understood that the real difference of interests lies not between the large and small but between the Northern and Southern states. The institution of slavery and its consequences form the line.”

As long as the disagreement remained purely a matter of North and South, the danger seemed manageable. But then North and South looked to the west. All that land, all those resources – the idea that the frontier might be closed off to slavery was unacceptable to the South. It felt like an indictment and an injustice rolled into one. Slave owners were not immune to the expansionary passion of 19th century America. They too needed room to grow, and not just to plant more cotton. Slaves could grow hemp and mine gold and build railroads and sew clothes. The economic engine of slavery was immensely powerful. Slaves were the single largest financial asset in the United States of America, worth over $3.5 billion in 1860 dollars – more than the value of America’s railroads, banks, factories or ships. Cotton was by far the largest U.S. export. It enriched Wall Street banks and fueled New England textile mills. This economic giant demanded a piece of the Western action.

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act proposed to let territorial settlers decide the future of slavery. Never in U.S. history had so much depended on so few so far beyond the rule of law. There was a footrace to the distant prairie, and Kansas, where the racers clashed, was where the war started, not Fort Sumter. And everyone involved knew exactly what the killing was about.

It was on May 21, 1856, that a proslavery army, hauling artillery and commanded by U.S. Senator David Rice Atchison of Missouri, laid waste to the antislavery bastion of Lawrence, Kans. “Boys, this is the happiest day of my life,” Atchison declared as his men prepared to teach “the damned abolitionists a Southern lesson that they will remember until the day they die.”

One of those abolitionists was John Brown, who tried to come to the aid of Lawrence but arrived too late. Three days later, as Brown pondered what to do next, a messenger arrived with news from far-off Washington: an antislavery leader, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, had been clubbed nearly to death by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks while sitting at his desk in the Senate chamber after delivering a fiery speech titled “The Crime Against Kansas.” Brown went “crazy – crazy” at the news, his son reported. That night he led a small group, including four of his sons, to a proslavery settlement on Pottawatomie Creek. Announcing themselves as “the Northern army,” Brown’s band rousted five men, led them into the darkness and hacked them to death with swords.

Two contending armies, artillery fire and flames, bloodshed in the Senate and corpses strewn over dew-damp ground. People at the time knew exactly what to call it: civil war. Kansas Territorial Governor Wilson Shannon used the phrase himself in a warning to President Franklin Pierce. “We are standing on a volcano,” Shannon added.

The reason for the eruption was simple. As Brown explained, “In Kansas, the question is never raised of a man, Is he a Democrat? Is he a Republican? The questions there raised are, Is he a Free State man? or Is he a proslavery man?” This is why armies marched and shells burst and swords flashed.

The Fracture

From there, the remaining steps to Fort Sumter seemed to follow inexorably. The Supreme Court, in its infamous Dred Scott decision, tried to answer the question in favor of slave-holders. The backlash was furious. In Kansas, settlers passed competing constitutions, one slave and one free, and the battle over which one Congress should accept splintered the Democratic Party. When Stephen A. Douglas failed to reunite the Democrats in 1860, he opened the door to a Lincoln victory.

Meanwhile, Brown organized a quixotic plot to invade the South and stir up an army of slaves. Quickly captured at the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va., tried for treason and hanged, he was hailed by abolitionists as a martyr. After that, the idea that Northern Republicans supported slave rebellion became the defining theme, for Southerners, of the 1860 election. A vote for Lincoln was in many minds a vote for the sort of blood-soaked insurrection that had freed the slaves of Haiti and left thousands of white slave owners dead.

Abolitionists had “inspired [slaves] with vague notions of freedom,” explained President James Buchanan as he prepared to leave office. “Many a matron throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and her children before morning,” making “disunion… inevitable.” As Southern states began to declare their independence, they echoed this theme. South Carolina’s leaders indicted the North for encouraging “thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and those who have remained have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.” Mississippi affirmed, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world,” adding, “There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union.” Georgians declared, “We refuse to submit.”

Even as the conflict turned to all-out war, many people still hoped for a way to put things back as they had been. As George McClellan, General in Chief of the Union Army, wrote to a friend in 1861, “I am fighting to preserve the integrity of the Union & the power of the [government] – on no other issue. To gain that end, we cannot afford to raise up the negro question – it must be incidental and subsidiary.” His words go to the root of a persistent question: How could slavery be the cause of the war when so many in blue had no interest in emancipation? McClellan was speaking for the millions whose goal was not to free the slaves but to preserve the Union.

What McClellan did not perceive, though, was that the Union and slavery had become irreconcilable. The proposition on which the revolutionaries of 1776 had staked their efforts – the fundamental equality of individuals – was diametrically opposed by the constitution of the new Confederacy. “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone 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 and normal condition,” explained Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. In other words, the warring sides had stripped their arguments to first principles, and those principles could no longer be compromised.

Fogging Memory

The forgetting began with exhaustion. “From 1865” – the year the war ended – “until the 1880s, there was a paucity of writings about the war that really sold,” says Harvard historian John Stauffer. “Americans weren’t ready to deal with the reality of the war because of the carnage and the devastation.” When an appetite for the story began to return, readers embraced only certain kinds of memories. There was no market for books of war photographs. Ulysses Grant’s 1885 memoirs were a best?seller, but the Union general gave almost no attention to the events leading up to Lincoln’s call for troops, while his touching account of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox strongly conveyed the idea that it was best to move on. There was an avid audience for essays by military leaders in the magazine The Century, describing their battles in minute detail but paying scant attention to the big picture. This “Battles and Leaders” series spawned an endless literature that, some critics say, treats the terrible conflict as if it were America’s original Super Bowl, Yankees vs. Rebs, complete with watercooler analysis of the play calling, fumbles and Hail Marys.

The first publishing success to really engage the reasons for the war was a strange and rambling book by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Twenty years earlier, Davis had framed the choice to secede in simple terms: “Will you consent to be robbed of your property” – meaning slaves – or will you “strike bravely for liberty, property, honor and life?” But looking back, he preferred to say that the slavery issue had been trumped up by “political demagogues” in the North “as a means to acquire power.”

Davis’ book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, became a polestar for the Lost Cause school of Civil War history, which takes its name from an 1866 book by Richmond newspaper editor Edward Pollard. Highly selective and deeply misleading, the story of the Lost Cause was immediately popular in the South because it translated the Confederacy’s defeat into a moral victory. It pictured antebellum life as an idyll of genteel planters and their happy “servants” whose “instincts,” in Davis’ words, “rendered them contented with their lot… Never was there happier dependence of labor and capital on each other.”

But then: “The tempter came, like the serpent of Eden, and decoyed them with the majic word of ‘freedom.'” Though outgunned and outnumbered, the South fought heroically to defend itself from aggressors whose factories up north were the true slave drivers. And though God-fearing warriors like Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson outgeneraled their foes at every turn, ultimately the federal swarm was too large and too savage to repel.

The Lost Cause story required a massive case of amnesia. Before the war, Southerners would have scoffed at the idea that the North was overwhelmingly stronger. They believed that King Cotton was the dominant force on earth and that powerful Britain – where roughly 1 in 5 people depended on cotton for a living – would intervene to ensure Confederate victory.

But people were eager to forget. And so Americans both Southern and Northern flocked to minstrel shows and snapped up happy-slave stories by writers like Thomas Nelson Page and Joel Chandler Harris. White society was not ready to deal with the humanity and needs of freed slaves, and these entertainments assured them that there was no need to. Reconstruction was scorned as a fool’s errand, and Jim Crow laws were touted as sensible reforms to restore a harmonious land.

A Quarrel Forgotten

Instead of looking back, postwar Presidents stressed the future, adopting the reconciling tone of Grant at Appomattox. William McKinley, assassinated in 1901, was the last Civil War veteran to lead the country. His successor, Theodore Roosevelt, was the living embodiment of reconciliation and moving forward. His father had served the Union cause; his plantation-raised mother had supported the South; his childhood was a master tutorial in leaving certain things unsaid in the pursuit of harmony.

By the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, it was nearly impossible to know from the commemoration why the war had happened or who had won. The year was 1913, and the President was Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner to hold the office since 1850. Wilson had been a historian before entering politics, and his book A History of the American People was tinged with Lost Cause interpretations. He described the Ku Klux Klan as “an empire of the South” created by men “roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation.” It was no surprise, then, that his remarks at Gettysburg completely avoided slavery. Instead he chose to talk about “gallant men in blue and gray … our battles long past, our quarrels forgotten.”

So what was remembered? Two years after Wilson spoke at Gettysburg, partly influenced by Wilson’s book, filmmaker D.W.?Griffith debuted The Birth of a Nation. It was the first film in history with a six-figure production budget, yet by selling out theaters at the unheard-of price of $2 per ticket – nearly $44 in current dollars – Griffith made a fortune. The movie brought the Lost Cause to cinematic life, with the Klan saving the day in the final reel, rescuing white families from a group of marauding blacks. Then in 1939, a new Lost Cause melodrama made an even bigger impact: David O. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind. The story of plucky Scarlett O’Hara and the sad destruction of her “pretty world” of “Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South” is the top-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation, according to the website Box Office Mojo.

Both films begin in an antebellum South where all is peaceful and bright and trace the sad fall from paradise into a hellish postwar world of carpetbagging Northerners and rapacious, incompetent freed slaves. Such powerful cultural images were buttressed by the academic work of leading historians. At Columbia University, William A. Dunning established himself as the leading authority on the postwar South, and he brought up a generation of scholars with the belief that blacks were incapable of equality and that Reconstruction was a disastrous injustice.

Equally influential was University of Illinois historian James G. Randall, who towered among Lincoln scholars. Horrified by the senseless carnage of World War I, Randall saw it foreshadowed in the trenches and torched fields of the Civil War. The chief villains, in Randall’s orthodoxy, were Northern abolitionists with their “reforming zeal.”

Reigning over the study of slavery was Yale’s U.B. Phillips, the son of slave owners. For decades he was the only scholar to undertake a systematic examination of the plantation economy, which, he argued, was a benign and civilizing force for African captives. He concluded that slavery was an unprofitable system that would have soon died out peacefully. That would have surprised the Southerners who in the 1850s certainly believed there was money to be made in slavery. In the decade before the war, per capita wealth grew more than twice as fast in the South as it did in the North, and the prices of slaves and land both rose by some 70%. If slavery was dying out, it sure was hard to tell.

Why It Matters

Historians began to break the grip of forgetfulness after World War II, as the civil rights movement restarted the march toward equality. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt ordered equal treatment for “workers in defense industries or government.” The next President, Harry Truman, desegregated the armed forces. The next one, Dwight Eisenhower, dispatched federal troops to enforce school desegregation in Arkansas. And so on, step by little step.

In 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, John Hope Franklin, a black historian then at Howard University, published From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. This runaway best seller revolutionized academic discussion of the black experience. The same year, Columbia’s Allan Nevins published the first of eight volumes of Ordeal of the Union, which explored America’s road to disaster in great depth and clarity.

The Dunning School lost its grip on Reconstruction when C. Vann Woodward of Johns Hopkins published The Strange Career of Jim Crow in 1955. The following year, Kenneth Stampp at Berkeley did the same to U.B. Phillips with The Peculiar Institution, which examined the slave system through the eyes of the slaves themselves for the first time.

With the centennial of the war approaching, a flood of outstanding Civil War history books hit shelves, and the half-century since then has been rich in scholarship. Robust controversies rage and always will, but the distortion and occluded memory that shaped the Lost Cause story is found now only on the academic fringe. What energy exists in the modern version comes from a clique of libertarians who view the Union cause as a fearsome example of authoritarian central government crushing individual dissent. Slave owners make odd libertarian heroes, but by keeping the focus narrowly on Big Government, this school uses the secession cause to dramatize issues of today. Outside academia, denial remains an irresistible temptation for some politicians. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell last year issued a 400-word Confederate History Month proclamation without a single mention of slavery. “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states,” McDonnell later explained. “Obviously it involved slavery, it involved other issues, but I focused on the ones that I thought were most significant for Virginia.” (Barraged by criticism, he corrected the omission.)

And in popular culture, as University of Virginia historian Gary Gallagher writes, “The Lost Cause’s Confederacy of gallant leaders and storied victories in defense of home ground retains enormous vitality.” It shows up in movies like Gods and Generals, in commemorative paintings, decorative plates and battlefield re-enactments. By contrast, Gallagher searches in vain for a scene in any recent film that “captures the abiding devotion to Union that animated soldiers and civilians in the North.”

Why does this matter? Because the Civil War gave us, to an unmatched degree, the nation we became – including all the good stuff. Had secession succeeded, it’s unlikely that there could have been a stable, tranquil coexistence between an independent North and South. Slaves would have continued running away. The riches of the West would have been just as enticing. There never would have been the sort of roisterous hodgepodge of wide-open energy that America became. One of the blessings of being able to set up shop on a new continent was that Americans never had to be defined by clan or tribe or region. We’re the people who order a Coke from Atlanta and some New England clam chowder at a diner in Las Vegas. The place where a boy from Mississippi goes to California to make a movie called Blue Hawaii. Secession was about making more borders. At its best, Americanism is about tearing them down.

To be blind to the reason the war happened is to build a sort of border of the mind, walling off an important truth. Slavery was not incidental to America’s origins; it was central. There were slaves at Jamestown. In the 1600s, writes Yale’s David Brion Davis, a towering figure among historians, slave labor was far more central to the making of New York than to the making of Virginia. As late as 1830, there were 2,254 slaves in New Jersey. Connecticut did not abolish slavery until 1848, a scant eight years before the fighting broke out in Kansas. Rhode Island dominated the American slave trade until it was outlawed in 1808. The cotton trade made Wall Street a global financial force. Slaves built the White House.

Furthermore, if slavery had spread to the West, the country would have found itself increasingly isolated in the world. Russia emancipated its serfs in 1861. The once sprawling slave system that had stretched from Canada to South America was by 1808 still vital only in Brazil, Cuba and the U.S. The first nation founded on the principle of liberty came dangerously close to being among the last slave economies on earth.

Two fallacies prop up the wall of forgetfulness. The first is that slavery somehow wasn’t really that important – that it was a historical relic, unprofitable, dying out, or that all societies did it, or that the slaves were happy. But slavery was important, and not just to the 4 million men, women and children enslaved – a number equal to the population of Los Angeles today. And the fact that it ended is important too.

The second fallacy is that this was only the South’s problem and that the North solved it. Not long ago, the New-York Historical Society mounted its largest-ever exhibition, titled “Slavery in New York.” You can still visit the website and listen to public reactions. Over and over again, visitors repeat the same theme: as a teacher, as a college graduate, as a native New Yorker, “I knew absolutely nothing about this.” As long as that belief persists, spoken or unspoken, Americans whose hearts lie with Dixie will understandably continue to defend their homes and honor against such Yankee arrogance.

Lincoln’s words a few weeks before his death were often quoted after the war by those who wanted not just to forgive but also to forget: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” But those words drew their deepest power from the ones he spoke just before them: “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

In other words, the path to healing and mercy goes by way of honesty and humility. After 150 years, it’s time to finish the journey.

And that’s why the fight against this stuff can never end. The truth must prevail.

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