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By Domenic Mongillo, VI Form
The Use of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie” as Anthems in United States History
Contributor’s Note: For this assignment, the task was to examine a Civil War or Reconstruction monument as a type of miniature research project. The resulting project would be able to tell a compelling story about the monument while also explaining the creation of the monument and the context around its creation. The most important part of this project, however, was to explore the monument’s importance to historical memory and how it has reflected the context of its creation throughout history. The projects were able to take on any media that would have helped to explain these facets of the monument; some students chose to make databases, posters, presentations, or videos. While “monuments,” constituted the official topic of inquiry, students were free to choose anything that had contributed to the memory of the Civil War era.
In my video, I chose to address the two songs: “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie.” Originally, I was going to focus solely on “Dixie,” but further research prompted me to realize that juxtaposition with an opposing song from the northern side of the Civil War would lead to a compelling comparison that I was eager to explore. I was fascinated by how these songs not only clashed during the Civil War, but have also been anthems of opposing sides leading up to the present. I looked at a few individual monuments that I could have possibly explored, but choosing a topic that carried significant weight to people in both past and present seemed much more interesting to me.(more…)
By Olivia Hammond, Matt Gates, and Matt Walsh, VI Form
History Fellowship: Civil War Monuments and Historical Memory
Editor’s Note: The project was part of a History Fellowship unit looking at the Civil War and historical memory. Students were asked to select a monument(s) and–1. Describe, in detail, your monument(s) (who, what, when, where, why, etc.); 2. Explain the question(s) that you are exploring about your monument(s); and 3. Describe the answer(s) to your question(s). They could use a medium of their choice (e.g., paper, movie, etc.) to present their analysis.
Olivia–Racial Attitudes in the Civil War Era: Seen Through Two Boston Monuments (video)
Matt G.–Confederate Statues in the Cherokee Nation (video)
Matt W.–Civil War Memory through Local Newspapers (essay)
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By Matt Walsh, V Form
What to Do with Confederate Monuments
Despite the meteoric rise of clickbait fake news, the majority of “alternative facts” don’t come from shady fake news websites. Rather, they come from our distorted perception of American history. I only had to read one chapter of Dr. James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me, a book that sheds light on the dishonesty of American history textbooks, to realize the problems with American history education. Lauded by the likes of Howard Zinn and Jon Wiener, Lies My Teacher Told Me provides a thorough examination of the lies promulgated by American history textbooks.
Dr. James Loewen, who holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University and taught at the University of Vermont and Mississippi’s Tougaloo College, came to visit St. Mark’s in October of 2017. Dr. Loewen’s talk to the St. Mark’s faculty and student body regarded the danger of misconceptions of the past and centered on the problems with Civil War monuments honoring Confederate generals. Loewen asserted that the construction of these statues—often in veneration of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis—represent what he calls a “nadir” in racial equality in the United States. (more…)
The History Fellowship class began the unit studying the memorialization of the American Civil War. This unit ended with a final project that investigates a specific example of Civil War memorialization and its impact on society. I decided to explore the memorialization of American slavery and the Civil War by comparing the political and social undertones of the film Gone With The Wind (1939) and the film 12 Years A Slave (2013).
By Joseph Lyons, IV Form
Memorialization, Memory, and the Civil War:
The Evolution of Civil War Memory through the Monuments of North Carolina and Maine
Driving up the hill from downtown Bridgton, Maine, one sees a towering Civil War monument looming on the horizon. The monument itself is unremarkable, as there are at least 144 other Civil War memorials in the state. Given the imprint that this conflict left on America’s collective memory, the prolific memorial-building efforts in Maine are no surprise. However, the way Maine memorials portray the conflict is rather puzzling. Despite the fact that the Union fought the war, at least in part, for emancipation and racial equality, Mainers constructed monuments, like the one in Bridgton, that largely disregarded the significance of slavery to the conflict. The inscription on the Bridgton monument reads: (more…)