What about the “occupied” southern territories? What happened in areas of confederate states that were occupied by Union troops for most of the war?
Trying to get a sense of the landscape of Union influence –
What about the “occupied” southern territories? What happened in areas of confederate states that were occupied by Union troops for most of the war?
Trying to get a sense of the landscape of Union influence –
Unionists in NC
This photo (from http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?MarkerID=20445) is of an historic marker in Henderson County, NC for those who served the union army in the Civil War.
Mcphereson writes, “The last state to secede, North Carolina’s commitment to the confederacy remained shaky despite her contribution of more soldiers than any other slave state save Virginia. … The western part of the state resembled east Tennessee and West Virginia in socio-economic structure and unionist leanings.” (694-695)
North Carolina was also a hub for some prominent unionist politicians. Mcphereson writes, “William W. Holden… began his career as a Whig, [but] he became a Democratic Secessionist in the 1850s but broke with the party and resisted secession until the last moment in 1861. … Emphasizing the rich man’s war/poor man’s fight theme, Holden won a large following among yeoman farmers and working men. … By the summer of 1863, Holden became convinced that the South could not win the war and that conscription, impressment, ‘military despotism’, and economic ruin represented a greater threat to North Carolinians that reunion with the United States.”(695-696)
Interesting Blogs: http://southernunionistschronicles.wordpress.com/category/north-carolina-unionists/
My project will focus on the “border states”, those that didn’t secede until after Fort Sumter, and that include the appalachian mountain range, including Arkansas, North Carolina, and especially Tennessee and West Virginia. I am interested in the Irish and working class populations in this area, and how they conceived of the war given their distinctly different social background and economic standing that the ‘traditional’ southern whites. I will focus on unionists groups in the south during the war, the breaking off of west virginia from virginia, and the how these developments are portrayed in modern civil war history and re-enactments.
“Cumberland Gap” followed through folk music…
Adopted by Woody Guthrie watch?v=pb0DEKVIubk
and then re-incorporated into Old Crow Medicine Show’s rewriting of Dylan’s unpublished “Rock Me Mama” refrain, now the song “Wagon Wheel” watch?v=yswz5MtGey0 (reference at 2:50)
The Cumberland Gap is a gap in the Appalachian mountains where Virginia and Tennessee meet Kentucky. The gap is formed by a few different geological formations, including the natural gap in the cumberland mountains, Yellow Creek valley, and the three-mile long Middlesboro crater (the only place in the world where coal in mined in a crater). Without this gap, it would have been exceedingly difficult for pack horses to navigate through the mountain range and unlikely that wagon roads would have been constructed. The gap changed hands three times over the course of the war, remaining in Union control after the skirmish in September 1863.
Banjo playing (a staple of american bluegrass and traditional folk music showcased here) is most likely the descendent of four-string African American instruments, and was played solely by African Americans until the 1830s, when it was popularized by Joel Sweeney, a blackface minstrel performer from (what is now) Appomattox, VA, who is said to be the first person to play the banjo on stage. By the middle of the 1840s, the banjo had been transformed into a middle-class form of entertainment, and Sweeney even toured in London. Although Sweeney died in 1860, his younger brothers Sam and Dick enlisted in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, rumors that Sam brought his banjo with him.
Bluegrass was further developed by the mixing of traditional fiddling brought to Appalachia by Scottish and Irish immigrants with African American music in the region and the iconic banjo. It was not defined as a specific genre until Bill Monroe popularized the style in the 1930s, with the popular Blue Grass Boys, including Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, who played “Cumberland Gap” above. However, competing theories exist – some credit Bascom Lamar Lunsford, a North Carolina Native who recorded the seminal “I wish I were a mole in the ground” in 1924. His music hasa distinct Western North Carolina feel, leading some to classify it as “folk” rather than “bluegrass”, but the songs had roots in African American spirituals, dance-hall sounds, and a clawhammer banjo stroke which overlap with “traditional bluegrass”. Lunsford organized the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, NC which he performed at every year from 1928 to 1965. Fun fact – his song “good old mountain dew” was used as the first advertising jingle for Mountain Dew, and was original written about moonshine liquor.
How did the musical tradition of the south evolve? How was the civil war interpreted by these artists? Why is everyone talking about Cumberland Gap?
If you google “bluegrass music and civil war” this is the first video that comes up, a recording at the Glouster County Historic Courthouse in August, 2010. watch?v=FrW0c47ZHCI it’s not the most audible… but you can definitely make out a “cumberland gap” around (1:03 and 2:00)
Harpers Ferry Sesquicentennial Event Calendar – http://www.nps.gov/hafe/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=152139
W.E.B DuBois – Niagara Movement and 1906
W.E.B. Du Bois (seated), and (left to right) J.R. Clifford, L.M. Hershaw, and F.H.M. Murray
When did the ‘historicization’ of Harpers Ferry begin? Why did the leaders of the Niagara movement choose this location (and connect their mission with the historical John Brown raid)?
The Wikipedia article summarizes: “The three-day gathering, starting on August 15, 1906 at the campus of Storer College (now part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park), discussed how to secure civil rights for African Americans and was later described by Du Bois as “one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held.” Attendees walked from Storer College to the nearby Murphy Family farm, relocation site of the historic fort where John Brown’s quest to free four million enslaved blacks reached its bloody climax. Once there they removed their shoes and socks to honor the hallowed ground and participated in a ceremony of remembrance.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Movement
Worth its weight in gold?
This is a map of California from 1873 showing a large lake in the middle of Southern California, whose tributaries were dammed for irrigation as more and more people moved to the region and set up farms, which led to the disappearance of the lake. The laws surrounding water and land rights contributed to the effect. I chose this image because of the importance of the West in the Civil War, and how the West was eventually incorporated into the US, how expansion was encouraged and regulated– there’s more going on here than just the Gold Rush.
The survival issue between Moby Dick and Ahab is interesting because I think each of these characters are jockeying for the position of God in the novel. Ahab assumes a solitary role above the rest of his crewmembers and society – his forceful individualism is a challenge the idea of providence and fate. Ahab is constantly striving to escape his eventual doom, despite being unable to abandon his quest for Moby Dick. He feels his mortality acutely (especially during the chase chapters) and yet is unable to accept it. By contrast, Ishmael’s individualism is less forceful and ultimately, his identification as an orphan (and that being a negative thing) is what saves him. Ishmael is the observer –throughout the text the narrator muses on the vastness of the sea (example chapter 114), and his character is often isolated and detached – as if watching the action from above (another God-like quality). In the end, Ishmael’s position as an observer saves him; he is separated from the action, and orphaned from his shipmates. This is interesting because it showcases two different sides of individualism – it seems the narrator is unsure of how the individual ought to relate to both society and nature in it’s entirety. Should individuals “play god”, jockeying their forcefulness with the force of nature (the Whale, the sea, etc.) or should individuals relinquish this individuality in order to avoid being orphaned?
Over spring break, I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where they have a gallery devoted to model ships from the maritime period. Here is a video of the installation of the exhibit. MFA Ship Exhibit Installation.
Here is a link to the boston MFA gallery – http://www.mfa.org/americas-wing/galleries_lg.html
And a news article about the opening of the wing – http://www.wbur.org/2010/03/03/mfa-milestone
Memory and Memoir; whose story is this?
Memory is both personal and public. For the authors we have read, personal memory can become part of cultural memory through storytelling, collecting, performance, and memoir writing. In this paper, I will trace the function of personal and collective memory and explore how the creation of memoir functions in these texts.
In The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag, memory functions in multiple ways, and there are many avenues through which memories are collected, stored, and shared. Sontag abstractly writes, “I’ll tell your joke. I mean the joke. It isn’t yours of course. Someone told it to you. And now I’ll get to tell it to someone else if I can remember it… The joke is this impersonal impression. It doesn’t have anyone’s signature. It was given to me—but you didn’t make it up; it was in my custody, and I chose to pass it on, keep it going. It isn’t about any of us. It has a life of its own.”(Sontag, 139) Sontag often interrupts her narrative with reflections or stories from the narrator who we meet in the flea market. In this passage, her musing about jokes is a way of describing by the way cultural accumulation memories happens. The joke (and by extension, the memory, the character) does not belong to anyone—once it has been introduced, it can take on an agency, it becomes active in its proliferation; people want to retell it.
In a similar fashion, the characters in The Volcano Lover also use and create collective memory. Emma embodies the characters she performs so seamlessly that she seems to become them, her life and the stories of mythological goddesses become interchangeable, as her life itself becomes a myth. Her weight gain in the second half of the book also seems to suggest her persona has overtaken her person; she is truly larger than life. In fact, the way Sontag leaves Emma and her other main characters nameless suggests that they are archetypes or composite characters representing something greater, a broader persona, rather than singular, limited individuals. The Hero is the perfect example of this. Sontag writes, “There are a few people, such as the hero, whose lives and reputations are like the Portland Vase, already in a museum and too valuable to be allowed to disappear.”(Sontag, 348) His life was codified into a museum artifact even before he died; he became a living embodiment of cultural memorabilia.
For the Cavaliere, the act of collecting becomes his form of codifying memory, and in essence, himself. The Cavaliere also tries to “collect” Vesuvius. The volcano is the backdrop, the context for the narrative, but it also behaves like a character. Vesuvius represents consistency and the repetitiveness of nature, and by analogy, the repetitiveness of human nature and human experience. Sontag writes, “While the French Revolution was perceived as unprecedented, Vesuvius had been erupting for a long time, is erupting now, and will erupt again: the continuity and repetitiveness of nature. To treat the force of history as a force of nature was reassuring as well as distracting. It suggests that though this may be only the beginning, the beginning of an age of revolutions, this too will pass.”(Sontag, 161) This suggests that all revolutions, all memories, are “re-enactments” in a sense, because the stories are simply repeated and retold in the present.
In A Line in the Sand, Roberts and Olsen explore both the person and the persona of Davy Crockett. One of the most interesting aspects of Crockett’s story is his autobiography, which he wrote relatively early on. The story is important because it seemed to capture a need the American public had at the time for “popular” writing. Roberts and Olson write that Crockett, “did sense that he might become rich selling an image of himself that Americans were hungry for.”(88) The book was an extension, and perhaps an exaggeration, of Crockett’s character. Roberts and Olsen explain, “In the language of an American he told the story of an American, the great tale of democracy. Using phonetical spelling and frontier grammar, he told his story with great humor, demonstrating that while he was no better than any other man, he was no worse either.” (Roberts, 88) The act of writing the autobiography is almost more important that the content of it; the act of writing it was an announcement of celebrity in and of itself. Roberts and Olsen explain, “In a sense, it was not so much a record of his accomplishments as an accomplishment in itself, an announcement that he had arrived because he had written that he had arrived.”(88) By doing so, Crockett elevated himself to the national stage and imprinted himself on our cultural memory.
The popularity of his memoirs suggests that his story was widely identifiable to the majority of the public—he embodied more universal principles and re-embodied previous heroic archetypes. Roberts and Olsen argue that even Crockett saw himself this way. “In his own mind he had become some sort of heroic figure standing for truth and honesty against the most base tyranny; he had become a nineteenth-century version of Milton’s Abeil, the one true man in a crowd of false gods…Over the years his Davy persona had hogtied and swallowed his David self.”(Roberts and Olsen, 91) Just like Emma and the Hero in The Volcano Lover, “Davy Crockett” became a projection of something larger than just the person, David Crockett. Crockett accepted, and perhaps, even cultivated this persona. Roberts and Olsen describe the scene at the theater; “Crockett bowed, Hackett bowed, and an odd fusion took place. Legend and man, myth and reality, backwoodsman Davy Crockett and Congressman David Crockett—they had become one and interchangeable. … Crockett would have realized that he had become a celebrity, famous not for anything he had actually accomplished but simply for being famous.”(Roberts, 87) In this moment, and perhaps in later developments in the Alamo, Crockett performs the story of his life, in the same way that Emma performed the stories of Greek goddesses, and in doing so, both become the stories and help them proliferate.
The story of Davy Crockett does not end at the Alamo however. Instead, his story is revived and retold in the 1950’s, beginning with Disney productions. Walt Disney was in search of a “usable past” (Roberts and Olson, 237)—what Disney was “using” the past for is an interesting question indeed. Disney used the Crockett series as an advertising tool for Frontierland, no doubt (Crockett also used his own autobiography to pay his debts). But Disney also needed a story that would carry themes that were relevant to 1950’s Americans, something reachable and understandable. Roberts and Olson explain that write Steven Watts thinks Disney used Crockett as part of the project of national self-definition, “arguing that in the cold war Americans engaged in ‘attempts to explain the nature of the American people, American history, the American character, and the bedrock values that supported the whole. Walt Disney engaged his enterprise to grapple with these broad issues and emerged as a key figure in the process of national self definition.”(Roberts, 237) Crockett, and Crockett at the Alamo in particular, was representation of the “bedrock values”—liberty and democracy in contrast with tyranny and oppression—that American people wanted to align themselves (and their country) with in contrast to Soviet Russia during the Cold War. In this case, Crockett was re-remembered in the context of the Cold War, and the story of his life became a “usable” story for writing the American present; it connected the values and the players in the Cold War with the founding principles on which America was founded. In a sense, Crockett was performing the story of the American Revolution as much as Lyndon Johnson was performing the glory of the Alamo in the 1950’s and 60’s.
For Emerson, memory is a blessing and a curse. He is distrustful of using collective memory, saying that we must shake off the old “relics” of the past if we are to truly transcend our experience and. However, the pure kind of writing he admires can be described as nothing else but memoir—Song of Myself is exactly that—a written memory of one’s individual experiences. For Emerson, the act of writing and recording your own experiences or memoirs that came through interaction with nature is a transcendent act. However, each generation must embark on that journey without carrying the burdens and structures of previous writers. Emerson writes, “We know that the secret of the world is profound, but who or what shall be our interpreter, we know not. A mountain ramble, a new style of face, a new person, my out the key in our hands, Of course, the values of genius to us in the veracity of its report … genius realizes and adds. Mankind, in good earnest, have availed so far in understanding themselves and their work, that the foremost watchman on the peak announces his news. It is the truest word ever spoken, and the phrase will be the fittest, most musical, and the unerring voice of the world for that time.”(Emerson, The Poet) In this essay, the Poet represents a person interpreting the world by interpreting it directly and writing it down (we assume he is thinking of Whitman here?) and in doing so can capture the spirit of the times. In this vein, it is possible that Emerson would have regarded Crockett’s autobiography as a form of poetry, but our present reinterpretations and adaptations of his story would be misdirected efforts.
Although Thoreau puts Emerson’s suggestions to practice in Walden, he is not completely free from the collective memories of readers and writers before him. He often interprets his experience through the lens of stories (cultural memories) that he already knows, or acquired through formal education (which itself is a channel through which personal memories become collective knowledge). For example, in the section “Brute Neighbors” Thoreau describes a battle he witnesses on an anthill between two colonies of ants. He writes, “the legions of these Myrmidons covered all the hills and valleys in my wood yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; and internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, the black imperialists on the other.”(Thoreau, 148) Here, Thoreau extrapolates from his experience and fits what he perceives (the battle between ants) into pre-existing narratives with which he is already acquainted. The existence of Myrmidons, imperialists, or republicans is not evident given what Thoreau sees on the ground; rather, he superimposes these stories on the ant colonies, assigning roles and taking sides, connecting the history he knows with what he experiences directly. On the next page, he continues, “I have no doubt that is was a principle they fought for, as much our ancestors, and not to avoid a three-penny tax on their tea; and the results of this battle would be as important and memorable to those whom its concerns as those of the Battle of Bunker Hill, at least.”(Thoreau, 149) This passage is particularly interesting, because Thoreau both acknowledges the presence of these battle narratives in his own mind, as well as imagining these ants have their own battle stories—that they too envision themselves as heroes fighting for liberty, the old timers and the new recruits, all engaged in the age-old practice of trying to live up to the mythological heroes of their culture, whose trials and victories have been handed down to them through generation after generation.
In the act of writing Walden, Thoreau actively transforms his experiences and himself into a memory to be shared with other people. He deliberately uses his experiences, and perhaps molds them, to be an example that others can follow—in effect, he wants his experiences to become a template for other people; his experience of “living deliberately” will become a cultural artifact distinct, at least partially, from Thoreau the individual. The sheer resilience of his story in our culture—the pond, the transparent eyeball, have become embedded in our cultural memory—shows how effective Thoreau was in creating a portable template of his experience. Thoreau is conscious of the reader as he constructs his text. He writes, “The present was my next experiment of this kind, which I purpose to describe more at length; for convenience, putting the experience of two years into one. As I have said, I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as a chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.”(Thoreau, 55) Here, Thoreau admits to structuring his story to serve the purpose of “waking his neighbors up”, to become an inspiration or template that others can read then emulate.
Frederick Douglass performs a similar feat with the writing of his autobiography. His narrative is deliberately crafted to persuade people to the cause of abolition. As Blight explains in the introduction, Douglass used biblical themes and formulated his narrative like a jeremiad, which his readership would have been intimately familiar with and therefore, receptive to. Blight writes, “Douglass’s writing is not cautious… he is willing to manipulate their [the reader’s] deepest fears and passions. The book is imbued with biblical references, imagery and metaphors, and it owes much to the black sermonic tradition form which Douglass learned a great deal about the use of language and its powers. Douglass’s Narrative also fits squarely into one of America’s oldest literary traditions: the jeremiad. … The jeremiad became a kind of political sermon and a literary form—functioning not only as a lamentation about wanting zeal but also as a national ritual of both self-condemnation and optimistic assertions of the American mythology of mission.”(Blight, 10) Douglass appropriates biblical references and American mythology in the recreation and retelling of his life—his memories become interposed with the collective memories and trajectories of the entire American/Christian nation—and this is made his book an effective persuasive tool for the abolitionist cause, as well as extremely popular. Blight writes, “Douglass’s Narrative appealed to readers of his own time for many reasons. Mid-nineteenth century readers were very familiar with jeremiads that reminded them of America’s divinely appointed mission and such betrayals of that mission as slavery.”(Blight, 11) Using this pattern allowed Douglass to turn his personal memory—the story of his life—into a broader narrative of freedom from tyranny, escape from captivity and redemption that were already part of the wider cultural understanding. In doing so, Douglass’s personal narrative becomes part of how the entire culture constructs its memory of itself, its history, and its future.
I chose this photo of the Johnson family at their home in Texas (in the center in Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr., grandfather of Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of ‘Merica), because I thought the discussion of Lyndon Johnson’s family history in Texas and connected to the Alamo was particularly interesting, especially in relation to Johnson’s view of the Vietnam war. To the left of Johnson is his wife, Eliza Bunton Johnson, a descendent of John Wheeler Bunton, who fought at San Jacinto and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence (and whom LBJ, according to Roberts&Olson, remembers as dying at the Alamo/San Jacinto… although neither of those things happened). I find this interesting in terms of Alamo reconstruction in memory, impacts beyond disney/popular culture in the 1950s and 60s, and also the way stories and family histories are important in shaping American culture and identity.
Source: wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Johnson_Family_in_front_of_home_-_B10144_-_ca._1893-97.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Johnson_Family_in_front_of_home_-_B10144_-_ca._1893-97.jpg