Reconciliation, Commemoration, and Preservation

NPS Primary Theme: In the wake of the bloodiest, most destructive war of the century, the North and South—led by the men who had waged the battles—sought political and cultural reconciliation. In their pursuit of reconciliation, whites of both sections subjugated the Reconstruction-era’s pursuit of social and legal equality for Americans of color.

  • NPS Subtheme: The recognition and commemoration of shared sacrifice hastened and solidified the reconciliation of former enemies. Northerners permitted white Southerners their regional identity (intensified by emerging Confederate iconography), acknowledged their collective suffering, yet rejoiced in the reunited Nation. White Southerners permitted Northerners to revel in the glow of wartime victory and consoled themselves with images of their wartime sacrifices and order their racial relationships without interference from the North.

NPS Secondary Theme: The varied efforts at commemoration and preservation by succeeding generations illustrate society’s evolving values and views on the Civil War.

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.

 

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20 Responses to Reconciliation, Commemoration, and Preservation

  1. Melissa Swank says:

    This week I focused heavily on the “Death and Dying” theme. With that series of podcast planning done, this weekend I should finish “Reconciliation and Commemoration.” In actuality, I feel that the two podcasts I have for this theme should be slightly easier to complete, as it is a more thoroughly covered topic. The ideas for this theme are set, now I just have to write them 😉

    Looking forward to hearing everyone’s updates, see you soon,
    Melissa

  2. Shawn Daley says:

    What I have at this moment (wee in the morning) for my Wilderness Podcast — still working on the abstract:

    The Wilderness Podcast Plan

    Tangibles*:
    Salem Church, Chancellorsville Battlefield
    Harrison and McCoul Farms, remnants, Spotslyvania Battlefield
    Elwood Manor, Wilderness Battlefield

    *I know we’re trying to get smaller, but based on what this particular podcast is about, the preservation of the “grounds” I felt that buildings were as small as I could go for this one.

    Intangibles:
    Commerce
    Development
    Progress
    Remembrance
    Respect

    Universal Concepts
    Sanctity
    Experience

    Primary Sources:
    “Wal Mart Gives Up Civil War Wilderness Site” – Martha Bolz, Washington Times, Februrary 3, 2011. Accessed: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/civil-war/2011/feb/3/walmart-gives-wilderness-site-store/
    “Battle over Battlefields” – David Graham, Newsweek, January 13, 2011. Accessed at: http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/12/battle-over-the-battlefields.html#
    “Virginia Town approves Wal-Mart’s plans to build store near historic Civil War battlefield” – Cliff Pinckard, http://www.cleveland.com – Accessed at: http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/08/virginia_town_approves_walmart.html
    Secondary Sources:
    ABC News report on Wilderness debate: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/story?id=7666961&page=1
    Friends of Wilderness battlefield: http://www.fowb.org/
    Battling for Manassas, by Joan Zenzen, The Pennsylvania State University library. 1998

    Name of Contacts at the Parks:
    John Hennessy, Chief History/Chief of Interpretation, Fredericksburg and Spotslyvania National Military Park; john_hennessy@nps.gov.

    Theme Statement: Nearly 150 years after the first Battle of the Wilderness, the engagement where Ulysses S. Grant began his campaign to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia, modern day adversaries Wal-Mart and the Fredericksburg and Spotslyvania National Military Park waged the “Second Battle of the Wilderness” to maybe finally draw the distinction between the drive for progress and the need for remembrance.

    Abstract:
    Planned Opening:
    “From standing in the center of the Spotslyvania Battlefield, somewhere between the remains of the McCoul farm of the Harrison house, you can look in any direction and see a landscape almost exactly as it was in June of 1864, when armies under Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee waged the second bloody confrontation of Grant’s Overland campaign. John Hennessey, Chief of Interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotslyvania National Military park, sees such a situation as being a triumph of preservationist efforts, and something that all parks should strive to create.
    “About 9 miles east of the battlefield, however, sits what Hennessey refers to as one of the failures of preservationists, the Salem Baptist Church. Used a hospital in the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, Hennessey recalled that the National Park Service once had the opportunity to purchase the Salem Church area, but declined. Because of that decision, the Church today rests across the street from an Auto Zone, a Laundromat, and a Domino’s Pizza, which make it hard for the traveler who walks on the tiny NPS parcel that the Church to clearly get a sense of the crises of May 1863.
    “Nevertheless, the experience at Salem Church motivated men like Hennessey, who know they can’t necessarily stop businesses from building near National Parks, but who regardless felt compelled to blunt the efforts of retail giant Wal-Mart when the company arranged with the Orange County County Commission to erect a new superstore just outside the borders of the military park.”
    (End of Introduction)
    The plan for the remainder of this podcast would be to talk with John Hennessy and/or members of the Natoinal Trust for Historic Preservation about the fight between Wal-Mart and preservationists between 2009 and 2011, and how the “fight” was the most recent preservation battle (of many) that have been happening in recent years.
    The plan would be to offer a bit of a blow-by-blow of the steps that Wal-Mart took to get its store nearby, and allow for commentary from them about why they did have a right to build outside the park boundaries. Simultaneously, the podcast will ask preservationist to defend their claims against the cry that their work is fruitless since Wal-Mart will probably move to some other location.

    Need to add about 250-300 words to the abstract. I’m exhausted though…

  3. Shawn Daley says:

    I have a brief struggle at the moment when it comes to my sources for my work — since the fight just “ended,” are my primary sources going to be okay if they are newspaper clippings? I also hope it’s okay with photos to include some battlefield shots along with some recent picture of the area, and even the “rendering” of the Wal-Mart-to be.

    Will post Podcast plan for Preservation Theme by Tuesday the 1st.

  4. melissaswank says:

    Having communicated with all of my parks, I have a good feel for themes, theme statements, tangibles, intangibles, and universals for each park. This upcoming week I will begin ideas for actual outlines/narratives for each specific podcast.

    Gettysburg
    Theme: Reconciliation: usually includes a compromise that does not deal with the real issue.

    Theme Statement: The Civil War reunion of 1913 at Gettysburg celebrated the bravery of soldiers and a new national heritage, marking not only unity, but also disillusionment.
    Abstract: Seeking political and cultural reconciliation.
    The recognition and commemoration of shared sacrifice hastened and solidified the reconciliation of former enemies. Northerners permitted white Southerners their regional identity, acknowledged their collective suffering, yet rejoiced in the reunited Nation. White Southerners permitted Northerners to revel in the glow of wartime victory and consoled themselves with images of their wartime sacrifices and order their racial relationships without interference from the North.

    Tangibles:
    Reunion Site
    1938 “Peace Eternal and Nation United” Monument

    Intangibles:
    Reconciliation
    Reunion of 1913
    Heritage
    Bravery
    Politics

    Universals:
    Unity
    Freedom
    Compromise
    Disillusionment
    Race
    Liberty
    Sacrifice
    Progress
    Rebellion

    Appomattox
    Theme: Commemoration: the evolution of the Civil War commemoration process throughout the years.

    Theme Statement: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is in itself a commemoration of the change, progress, and expansion of Civil War national memory.

    Abstract: The varied efforts at commemoration by succeeding generations illustrate society’s evolving values and views on the Civil War.

    Tangibles:
    UDC marker
    Confederate Cemetery
    McLean House
    North Carolina Monument
    Village
    The Memorial Bridge

    Intangibles:
    Commemoration
    Memory
    Expansion
    Dedication Ceremony 1950
    Centennial Celebration 1965
    Living History

    Universals:
    Change
    Power
    Unity
    Culture
    Progress
    Heritage

  5. melissaswank says:

    A First Shot at Theme Statements:
    Gettysburg:
    The Civil War reunion of 1913 at Gettysburg celebrated the bravery of soldiers and a new national heritage, marking not only unity, but also disillusionment.

    Appomattox:
    Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is in itself a commemoration of the change, progress, and expansion of Civil War national memory.

  6. Shawn Daley says:

    I had a remarkable conversation with John Hennessy at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania park on Monday afternoon, and in earnest, it left me with the sense that crafting a podcast on preservation will be both intriguing and dramatic.

    Our conversation, which John prepared for after I sent him a series of guiding questions, hinged on the “Second Battle of the Wilderness,” which just ended this past January. The fight itself was between Wal-Mart and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Park Service. Wal-Mart, working in conjunction with Orange County Virginia, wanted to build a superstore just outside the boundary of the park. While this is entirely legal, since the area outside the park isn’t protected, both the NPS and the NTHP argued that having the Wal-Mart on the outskirts of the park would in fact disturb the sanctity of enjoying that particular overall site. While the “battle” raged for over 2 years, Wal-Mart indicated in January of 2011 that they would not build their site in the proposed location and instead commit to preserving the area (which, John noted, was even more than an about face and equated to a “total conversion.”) Needless to say, the NPS and the NTHP were both thrilled by this decision.

    Our conversation covered a number of issues associated with preserving a park like the Wilderness ,which is one of four battlefields that are partly enclosed by the National Park Site.

    a) We discussed how if the Wilderness was not so close to the other sites, say, 50 miles away, it probably would be entirely contained within its own park, like similar battlefield sites around the state that could be arguably less important than the Wilderness. Because of the limitations on size of the park, we moved into discussing the relationship between a park site and its neighboring community, and how a community views the impact of a park site on elements like development and tax rates. To me, this was an intriguing area that was worthy of further conversation, because I had never thought of an NPS site as a “burden” or an issue when it came to taxes, but in the zoning and planning for Orange County, citizens certainly had it in mind.

    b) An extension of that, briefly, is the political realities that come into play with parks that abut major or rising metropolitan areas. I think this speaks to some of the issues the entire park service faces in wanting to craft parks that do speak to the community. In scanning articles prior to talking with John, I was amazed how several local papers did speak unfavorably about the Park Service’s position. Even the Washington Times argued that the idea of trying to preserve so many sites was preposterous, since so much land on the East Coast is historical and that all you do by making Wal-Mart shift sites is to move it to someplace else that would also have historical value. This said, John had a good sense of how to work with the community, utilizing relationships with developers (he was clear that the Park Service does not discourage development) and federal workers in order to maintain a positive rapport with the community.

    c) Extending that conversation was the idea that one of the major considerations in the Wal-Mart debate was not that people don’t have a right to develop, but what types of developments are being made. In this case, John explained that what Wal-Mart was proposing was an urban area right on the boundary of the park, and if that were created than the experience of being at the park would be diminished. This sort of made me think about how when I walk into Fort Vancouver, the walls are high enough that I rarely see the city surrounding it (and I get the experience of being in the fort); additionally even though we have our classes in our secret conference room, I would never have been able to discern it was there from any of the previous visits I had made to FOVA). When we talked about tangibles, John mentioned that a positive tangible was the Spotsylvania battlefield, mainly because one could step into the middle of the field and have a 360 degree view of what it was like during the battle, and a preservationist could breathe a sigh of relief there because the planning for that site was so well done that most likely it will be the same view in 50-100 years.

    We did discuss a few other elements (I felt bad cutting off the conversation at 45 minutes, but honestly my cell phone was dying), and I’ll reference those in the podcast.

    What I did think about, podcast wise, was beginning in the middle of that battlefield, able to drink in the entirety of the view, and then going immediately to what John referred to as one of the tragedies of the site, the Salem Church, which was on the Chancellorsville battlefield but was destroyed by urban development AFTER the NPS had a chance to buy it outright but chose not to. I think that juxtaposition of successful preservation and its potency followed by standing near a mini-mall trying to “get a feel” for an 1863 vista would be a good intro/opening for the podcast. I will flesh out more details as the week progresses.

  7. Shawn Daley says:

    Hey, I don’t have as much detail as Melissa for my one theme here, but I have a phone call scheduled with John Hennessey at Fredericksburg this upcoming Monday afternoon at 3:30. I’m going to review the details of the Wilderness battle with him, and I will post to this thematic strand after that phone call on Monday.

  8. melissaswank says:

    Appomattox: Commemoration and Preservation
    http://www.nps.gov/apco/forteachers/commemoration-and-preservation.htm

    Early Commemoration
    The commemoration of the events at Appomattox Court House began soon after the surrender. In 1866 village women formed a Ladies Memorial Association to gather and rebury Confederate dead in a cemetery. Residents, including Wilmer McLean, helped dig the graves. They dedicated the Confederate Cemetery that December.

    In the following decades the village of Appomattox Court House fell on hard times. In the 1890s a chimney fire claimed the courthouse, and the McLean House was torn down in hopes of putting it on display in Washington, D.C. With the loss of these important buildings, and the fact that the railroad ran three miles to the south, the village entered a steady decline. There was little to mark where important events occurred. Visitors noted the “neglected” state of appearances and the “pile of rotting timbers” at the McLean House site.

    In 1893 the War Department placed a series of metal plaques at important sites, like the location of the courthouse, McLean’s home, and the site of Confederate artillery. North Carolina veterans returned to the site in 1905 to mark the 50th anniversary of the surrender. They placed three monuments marking their positions during the final battle on April 9th, 1865.

    Responding to local interest, the federal government first investigated the possibility of preserving the historic site in 1926. The War Department, which operated other Civil War sites, acquired one acre in 1930. A monument was proposed for the site.

    The National Park Service

    In 1935 the War Department transferred all historic sites and battlefields to the National Park Service. It was also decided that, rather than build a monument, the Park Service would restore the historic village to its 1865 appearance. On April 10, 1940, Congress created Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument to include approximately 970 acres. The following February, archeologists began work at the site, then overgrown with brush and honeysuckle. Historical data was collected, and architectural working plans were drawn up to begin the meticulous restoration process. The whole project stopped swiftly on December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor causing the United States entry into World War II.

    On November 25, 1947, bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House were opened and on April 9, 1949, 84 years after the historic meeting, the McLean House was opened by the National Park Service for the first time to the public. Major General U.S. Grant III and Robert E. Lee IV cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, after a speech by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman in front of a crowd of approximately 20,000.

    In 1964 the Park Service reconstructed of the courthouse and opened it as a museum and visitor center in 1965. This grand opening marked the Centennial Anniversary of the events at Appomattox. The next major anniversary commemorated was the 125th Anniversary in 1990. An estimated 4,000 re-enactors re-created the surrender ceremony along the old stagecoach road. Planning is now underway for the 150th Anniversary, to be marked in 2015.

  9. melissaswank says:

    Appomattox – Commemoration
    Theme: The varied efforts at commemoration and preservation by succeeding generations illustrate society’s evolving values and views on the Civil War.

    Ernie_Price@nps.gov
    (Chief of Education and Visitor Services)

    Reed_Johnson@nps.gov
    (Superintendent)

    Called Reed Johnson – 9:55am.
    Transferred to Ernie Price. No answer. Left voicemail.
    Emailed follow-up – 10:10am.

    • melissaswank says:

      Tomorrow afternoon I have a phone conference with Appomattox. They seem to be on board and have lots of great ideas! Thanks to everyone with NPS, you are so helpful! Will post an update tomorrow after the call.

      ~Melissa

  10. melissaswank says:

    <Gettysburg – Reconciliation
    Theme: In the wake of the bloodiest, most destructive war of the century, the North and South—led by the men who had waged the battles—sought political and cultural reconciliation. In their pursuit of reconciliation, whites of both sections subjugated the Reconstruction-era’s pursuit of social and legal equality for Americans of color.
    The recognition and commemoration of shared sacrifice hastened and solidified the reconciliation of former enemies. Northerners permitted white Southerners their regional identity (intensified by emerging Confederate iconography), acknowledged their collective suffering, yet rejoiced in the reunited Nation. White Southerners permitted Northerners to revel in the glow of wartime victory and consoled themselves with images of their wartime sacrifices and order their racial relationships without interference from the North.

    Scott_Hartwig@nps.gov
    (Historian)

    Called 2/10/2011 – 9:51am. No answer, left voicemail.

    • Melissa Swank says:

      Returned phone call from Scott, conversation notes as follows:
      11:38am – 11:50am

      Two symbolically significant events:
      1913 reunion – 50 year, biggest Civil War reunion ever – symbolic for reconciliation. Celebration that everyone (Yankee and Confederate alike) was brave and good, never really talked about the change, emancipation, etc.
      Similar today – July 3rd, 2010 – Blight, David – pessimistic view of white veterans, however, at some point there had to be reconciliation among whites. Context, they did the best with their worldview. A “new birth of freedom.” Jim Crow laws present in 1913, not “freedom” for blacks.

      1938 – 75-year commemoration monument, eternal peace memorial. “Peace eternal and nation united.” Again, not discussing what the war is REALLY about. Not until 1990s.

      Shape podcast around the 1913 reunion. What was good? What was not good? What can we learn from it? Let us try to understand these people and why they made the choices they made. Not pass judgment in who is “good” or “bad.”
      Gettysburg – for finding common ground.

      Present-day concerns: Deflected truth, confederacy not linked to slavery… People get defensive over heritage. You’ll fight for what you know and believe in. Still trying to get people to understand context.
      Modern politics – Obama, hostile toward federal government, taxes, “federal bureaucracy,” to spin to use for political agenda. For the sake of rebellion.

  11. Greg Shine says:

    Melissa, I think you’re off to a great start! Rather than craft your theme statement in advance, I’d like for you to work with the individual parks to identify a key tangible, the accompanying intangibles and universal concept(s), and then let that process lead you to the theme statement. The Interpretive Process Module worksheet might help visualize this process a bit better, too. Also, I think you can certainly use the ideas you have as a good start for your conversation with the park staff.

    • melissaswank says:

      Thanks Greg. I’m trying to use the theme statements as stated in “Holding the High Ground” to start conversations with NPS staff as well as insuring all of our major themes are incorporated. I think it’s possible to fall into the trap of being too site specific or too emphasized on the “Holding the High Ground” themes, either of which would be an injustice in accurately and thoroughly discussing these themes as applicable to the Civil War.

      Melissa

  12. Melissa Swank says:

    I. Podcast: Reconciliation – (Gettysburg)
    1. Theme Statement: In the wake of the bloodiest, most destructive war of the century, the North and South—led by the men who had waged the battles—sought political and cultural reconciliation. In their pursuit of reconciliation, whites of both sections subjugated the Reconstruction-era’s pursuit of social and legal equality for Americans of color.

    II. Podcast: Commemoration – (Arlington)
    1. Theme Statement: The recognition and commemoration of shared sacrifice hastened and solidified the reconciliation of former enemies. Northerners permitted white Southerners their regional identity (intensified by emerging Confederate iconography), acknowledged their collective suffering, yet rejoiced in the reunited Nation. White Southerners permitted Northerners to revel in the glow of wartime victory and consoled themselves with images of their wartime sacrifices and order their racial relationships without interference from the North.

    III. Podcast: Preservation – (Appomattox and/or Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania)
    1. Theme Statement: The varied efforts at commemoration and preservation by succeeding generations illustrate society’s evolving values and views on the Civil War.

    **The issue with Fredericksburg is I do have it planned for “Death and Dying”… Take a look. I’m flexible though. I think it’s a good emotional link to “Death and Dying.”

    Melissa

  13. Shawn Daley says:

    Melissa-

    I want to help with establishing the Legacy/Preservation final idea – I almost feel that we need to chat as a foursome (Melissa, Doug, you, me) to hammer out what would work best for all of us. The reason I’d go with Wilderness here is because that fight is a key preservationist battle that is topical and in common memory. I’m hopeful we have a little time to discuss on Friday…

  14. Melissa Lang says:

    If Melissa S. has not chosen to use Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania the Wilderness Battlefield (part of that NPS site) for preservation Doug and I could use it for the sub theme of legacy regarding what the Civil War means to us today. It’s a bit of a stretch but we are really struggling with this sub theme. To me it is the sub theme that I am most excited about, so I could use some help choosing a good spot to represent the meaning of the CW today.

  15. Shawn Daley says:

    Greg-

    I’m going to default to Melissa who is going to take over the bulk of this one, but I wanted to post a quick additional question:

    While Gettysburg is probably best for Reconciliation and Arlington for Commemoration, I’m unsure if Appomattox is the best call for Preservation. In earnest, either Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania for Wal-Mart or Manassas for an encroaching Disney Park.

    Melissa has Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania for Death and Dying, but would it be okay (as we mentioned last week at the end of class) to also include Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania here so that we can use the Wilderness Battlefield (part of that NPS site) vs. Wal-Mart as our story? Could that be our one exception?

  16. Melissa Swank says:

    Ok, I’m 99% sure this is our final list… I’ll get started on contacts probably tomorrow afternoon:

    Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT)
    Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial National Memorial (ARHO)
    Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (APCO)

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

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