Civil War Talk Radio: August 25, 2006

by Brett Schulte on August 25, 2006 · 0 comments

Air Date: 082506
Subject: Is History Written By the Winners?
Book:  Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
Guest: Dr. David W. Blight

Summary: Dr. David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory presents the 1913 50-year reunion at Gettysburg in a new light.

Brett’s Summary: Yale Professor Dr. David W. Blight grew up always knowing he wanted to be involved in the study of the Civil War.  He says one of his early influences was Bruce Catton, and he read the famous author’s works quite a bit in high school.

Discussion at the end of the first hour turned to Harry Stout’s new book Upon the Altar of the Nation.  Gerry does not agree with most of Stout’s conclusions, but both professors agreed that the questions he raises about the Civil War needed to be asked, the main question being “Was the Civil War a just war?”

Dr. Blight and Gerry go into great detail about how the Civil War has been remembered in the United States.  Blight points out that the “losers” of the war, the South, are still honored and remembered today.  One of the two points out that you do not see this sort of remembrance in the World Wars or really in most other wars.

Br. Blight discusses the 1913 fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and points out no Black Union soldiers were invited.  In fact, the only African-Americans at the celebration were working to serve the veterans who attended.  He repeatedly stresses that the “Reconciliation” view of the war won out in the latter portion of the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th Century.  This view celebrates the glory and valor of White veterans of the war while ignoring the question of slavery entirely.  However, Blight says, we should be encouraged by the continued rise of the “Emancipation” view of the war, stressing that the war was most assuredly about slavery and the efforts to end it once and for all in America.  Blight calls the Civil Rights movement of the 1969s, especially the legal phase of that movement, a “Second Reconstruction” which finally overcame the attempts of some White Southerners who wished to keep Blacks down in as many ways as possible.  Black Confederates were also briefly touched upon.  Blight says these efforts by some Southerners, especially but not exclusively Sons of Confederate Veterans groups, to create these myths are a legacy of the Reconciliation movement and Lost Cause ideology.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.

Check out more summaries of Civil War Talk Radio at TOCWOC.

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