Consequences

NPS Primary Theme: The Civil War confirmed the single political entity of the United States, led to freedom for more than 4,000,000 enslaved Americans, started the abrupt departure of a fairly small central government toward a more powerful and centralized federal government, and laid the foundation for America’s emergence as a world power in the 20th Century.

  • NPS Subtheme: Though by itself unable to transform racial attitudes among white Americans, the Civil War initiated immense constitutional changes that re-defined the nature of American society and acted as a point of departure for a struggle for equal civil and human rights.

NOTE: Please use the comments section below to chronicle your progress with this theme throughout the remaining weeks of the course. Begin by outlining how your group decided to work with the theme (e.g., assigning one theme to one person or dividing themes up between team members) and then outline in detail, at least once each week, the work that you have done toward crafting your three podcast proposals.

7 Responses to Consequences

  1. Amy Platt says:

    Michelle Huff from Nicodemus gave me a gift in her last email. She wrote, “I have a little Civil war factoid for you that is not in any of the above
    and which I only discovered by walking the three Nicodemus cemeteries:
    There are a total of 17 Civil War Veterans buried in two of the three
    cemeteries and they were all former slaves from Kentucky.”
    And so I have switched my tangible from the schoolhouse to the headstones. This allows me to talk about several consequences: the transition from slave to citizen (in this case conscription into the army); the iteration of citizenship to becoming a member of a self-invented community; and the memorializing of this transition on the headstones. Much better!

    Kym Elder from Ford’s Theater has helped me decide on Booth’s gun for the tangible (with the box and the bed as co-tangibles). The violence of that night has no better reminder than that gun.

    Scott Whitesides from Golden Spike has been invaluable to me–his summary of the politics at work has helped me understand much better how important the railroad was to the legitimacy and power of the federal government and its long reach across the country. The spike will work as the tangible, and he has sent me a number of resources that put the Golden Spike celebration in context of the war and the Union victory–what did it mean to be able to cross the country, to see the land for yourself, to extend citizenship west, and to have the federal government facilitate it all?

  2. Amy Platt says:

    Consequences

    What straight lines can we draw between the four years of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath? The consequences of the war should be distinguished from Reconstruction, or legacy, or the memorializing of the events. I looked for immediate consequences of not only the war, but of a Union victory. But I also need to be careful to avoid a narrative that seems deterministic, particularly in the first park: Ford’s Theater.

    Ford’s Theater and Petersen House
    Theme statement: The murder of the president was most likely a political act, although there will always be speculation and argument, including the motive of revenge. The complicated anti-government plot was an attack on the federal government at the very moment the end of the war had confirmed the legitimacy of Lincoln’s office; it is difficult even now to imagine what Booth hoped would emerge from the death of Lincoln, but at the very least he martyred the man. The relief the country felt over the end of the war is starkly juxtaposed to the murder of its leader in Ford’s theater, and I don’t think the shock of it can be underestimated. That moment is enough to chronicle, I think—the aftermath is best illustrated by Reconstruction and Legacy.

    Tangibles: the box, the bedroom, the accounts of the witnesses. The podcast should recreate the moment, both from an 1865 perspective and a current one. Witness accounts describing not only the event itself, but what the theater looked like, what the bedroom looked like, etc. should be matched with a walkthrough of the current properties by a park ranger.
    Intangibles: Shock, mourning, fear, revenge, satisfaction (the beginning of the conflicted Lincoln legacy based on region?)

    Nicodemus:
    Theme statement: A direct consequence of the Union victory was the change to the Constitution. The 14th and 15th amendments were composed and ratified, instantly creating four million new citizens and enfranchising the entire black population. For the first time, men and women born slaves were free to move throughout the country. Most stayed in the South, many moved north…and some moved to Kansas. Nicodemus is the oldest and only remaining all black town west of the Mississippi. The story of enterprising former slaves intent on building a town from the bottom up beyond the reach of white influence or organization is compelling in itself. But its endurance allows us to contrast the social and political institutions in Nicodemus to that of other post-war towns and cities: namely, the form of institutional racism.
    Tangibles: Old school house, letters and accounts, government documents
    Intangibles: hope, freedom, sovereignty, racism, settlement
    Golden Spike
    Theme Statement: The Union Victory, and the re-absorption of the South into the Union, created a newly strengthened federal government. Certainly the balance between federal power and states’ rights had changed and reimagined following the end of secession, and the force the federal government exerted throughout the war was also evident in the post-war period (and since). On the heels of the successful land acts which encouraged western settlement at a rapid pace, Congress followed through on its plans to build a network of railroads crossing the country—plans developed before and during the war. The site of the joining of two lines to make the country’s first transcontinental railroad in 1869—a mere four years after the end of hostilities—is a very tangible symbol of the uniting of the physical spaces, the economies, and the political policies of the country.

    Tangible: spike
    Intangibles: union, industry, federal power, western expansion

  3. Amy Platt says:

    Consequences:
    What straight lines can we draw between the four years of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath? The consequences of the war should be distinguished from Reconstruction, or legacy, or the memorializing of the events. I looked for a mathematical equation of sorts. But it’s also important to avoid determinism, particularly in the first park: Ford’s Theater.
    Ford’s Theater and Petersen House
    Theme statement: The murder of the president was most likely a political act, although there will always be speculation and argument, including revenge. The complicated anti-government plot was an attack on the federal government at the very moment the end of the war had confirmed the legitimacy of Lincoln’s office; it is difficult even now to imagine what Booth hoped would emerge from the death of Lincoln, but at the very least he martyred the man. The relief the country felt over the end of the war is starkly juxtaposed to the murder of its leader in Ford’s theater, and I don’t think the shock of it can underestimated. That moment is enough to chronicle, I think—the aftermath is best illustrated by Reconstruction and Legacy.
    Tangibles: the box, the bedroom, the accounts of the witnesses. The podcast should recreate the moment, both from an 1865 perspective and a current one. Witness accounts describing not only the event itself, but what the theater looked like, what the bedroom looked like, etc. should be matched with a walkthrough of the current properties by a park ranger.
    Intangibles: Shock, mourning, fear, revenge, satisfaction (the beginning of the conflicted Lincoln legacy based on region?)
    Nicodemus:
    Theme statement: A direct consequence of the Union victory was the change to the Constitution. The 14th and 15th amendments were composed and ratified, instantly creating four million new citizens and enfranchising the entire black population. For the first time, men and women born slaves were free to move throughout the country. Most stayed in the South, many moved north…and some moved to Kansas. Nicodemus is the oldest and only remaining all black town west of the Mississippi. The story of enterprising former slaves intent on building a town from the bottom up beyond the reach of white influence or organization is compelling in itself. But its endurance allows us to contrast the social and political institutions in Nicodemus to that of other post-war towns and cities: namely, the manifestations of institutional racism.
    Tangibles: Buildings (including an old school house), letters and accounts, government documents
    Intangibles: hope, freedom, sovereignty, racism, settlement
    Golden Spike
    Theme Statement: The Union Victory, and the re-absorption of the South into the Union, created a newly strengthened federal government. Certainly the balance between federal power and states’ rights had changed and had been reimagined due to the end of secession, and the force the federal government exerted throughout the war was also evident in the post-war period (and since). On the heels of the successful land acts which encouraged western settlement at a rapid pace, Congress followed through on its plans to build a network of railroads crossing the country—plans developed during the war as both a military maneuver and as a way to bring the South into the northern economic system. The site of the joining of two lines to make the country’s first transcontinental railroad in 1869—a mere four years after the end of hostilities—is a very tangible symbol of the uniting of the physical spaces, the economies, and the political policies of the country.
    Tangible: spike
    Intangibles: union, industry, federal power, western expansion

  4. Amy Platt says:

    All parks have been contacted–I think it’s going to work out!

    Ford Theater and Petersen House

    This park is all about the physical spaces: the box, the stage, the bed where Lincoln died. Those tangibles need to be part of the podcast, so that people can “see” the events unfold and know that they can travel to the Memorial to see the artifacts.

    That’s Part One. Parts Two and Three will focus on the political fallout–how did the government react to and recover from the unprecedented murder of a president?–and to the emotional response of the nation. It was mixed!

    “They Have Killed Papa Dead,” by Anthony Pitch
    “American Brutus,” by Michael Kauffman
    “Before the People Weeping,” by Thomas Reed Turner
    “The assassination of Lincoln: Opposing viewpoints,” by Michael O’Neal

    LOC docs: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/alrgall.html

  5. Dianna Woolsey says:

    Laurie, we did some more talking about the Consequences theme in class today — we’re not trying to step on your toes, but we did want to help that theme get going and get a site list down while we had the class and Greg around to talk to. (Besides, Natchez got moved to another group’s list and we wanted Consequences to have more than one park!) We came up with this:

    Ford’s Theater – I know this one was already on the list, representing the horrible novelty of presidential assassination as an idea made thinkable by the war
    Nicodemus – representing the newly-opened possibility of free western settlement for African-Americans (or, to put it another way, the story of all the racist fallout that made staying in the Southeast unappealing after the end of the war)
    Golden Spike – as an example of the Republican Party’s successful push for western expansion and its industrial goals, made possible by the removal of Southern congressmen (and the programs of Reconstruction, I think?)

    I thought some of these were a bit of a stretch when we first started talking, but the more I think about it, the more I like them. What do you think?

  6. Pingback: Parks to Illustrate CW150 Themes: A Preliminary List | Interpreting the American Civil War

  7. Laurie Pentz says:

    From the articles we’ve read before and the perusing I’ve done, I really thing this theme is very vast and touches on modern-day America deeply. The obvious way to go is the “Civil War to Civil Rights” focus. I think that is an extremely important aspect of the project and definitely should be part of it, but I think that for many people that is the first way to go. Frederick Douglass Park is an obvious one for this theme, but I’ve also considered using Natchez and the William Johnson house one of the foci for the theme. Aside from highlighting the tenuous struggle African Americans journeyed on their search for freedom during this period, I think we should highlight other parks that have to do with political or cultural changes. Homestead park comes to mind, to emphasize the changing cultural climate of the “average” U.S. family at the time. I’ve also been looking at modern political claims (we wouldn’t be addressing them specifically in the podcast) and how those tie to the political feelings during and after the Civil War. Ford’s Theatre is an obvious choice. I also think it’s an important to consider the ramifications of John Wilkes Booth’s actions and tie them to intangible concepts. Maybe it might give people listening to the podcast a chance to step back and think about what they’re doing in the modern political context.

    I used the interpretive process model to start out my brainstorming process for this week. I think this will give a way for us to break down the themes and move forward organically to devising a podcast. I brainstormed intangible meanings and universal concepts for the parks I was reading about to try to connect the stories of the consequences of the Civil War to: Fear of change, hope, universal rights (outlined by the UN much later, but their listing opens up philosophical questions, life, intrinsic value, home life, preservation of culture/heritage, political persuasion… the list goes on.

    Our group seems to want to split these themes up among ourselves, so when we decide on our assignments it will be much easier to narrow down the themes and parks we will be using for our project.

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