William Howe, a Union soldier, sent to the gallows

William Howe’s grave along Snyder Rd in Upper Frederick Township, Montgomery County . Photo by Michael Snyder

William Howe’s grave along Snyder Rd in Upper Frederick Township, Montgomery County . Photo by Michael Snyder

By Michael T. Snyder

Pottstown Mercury - Sunday January 6, 2019

William Howe, a Union soldier, took the final walk from his prison cell to the gallows on Aug. 24, 1864, at the parade ground at Fort Mifflin. After a few prayers, a noose was placed around his neck and a hood slipped over his head. Moments later, when the trap was opened, Howe dropped about five feet and then was no more.

When the Civil War began, Howe was living in what is now Upper Frederick Township, Montgomery County. Born there in 1840, he was the son of Heinrich Hauck and his second wife, Catherina Bartman.

Howe’s parents were legally married, so why was his surname different from his father’s? After 178 years there is no answer to that question. But it is noteworthy that in the 1850 census the enumerator listed the then 10-year-old boy as “William How” or possibly “Howe.”

In 1860 Howe married Hannah Shaner, a woman eight years his senior and his stepsister. While it isn’t every day that stepsiblings marry, they didn’t share any DNA and didn’t even live in the same house. William lived with his mother, Catherina, and Charles Shaner, her second husband. Hannah and her brother, children of Shaner’s first marriage, lived in New Hanover Township with their maternal grandfather, Henry Krebs. (By the way, Catherina was Charles Shaner’s third wife.)

Hannah brought into the marriage a dowry of $1,500 in property and $450 in cash, a huge advantage for Howe, who had no financial resources.

Howe inscribed his signature on the wall of his cell at Fort Mifflin.  Photo by Elizabeth Beatty, executive director of Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

Howe inscribed his signature on the wall of his cell at Fort Mifflin. Photo by Elizabeth Beatty, executive director of Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Howe, now a husband and father, lived with his family in Frederick Township and was working as farm laborer and a cigar roller. With his new responsibilities and limited means, it is understandable that he joined the throngs of men who volunteered to fight for the Union.

Slightly more than a year later this deep pool of volunteers was quickly drying up. Early in the spring of 1862, when it appeared that the Confederacy was on the verge of defeat, Edwin Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, closed all the recruiting offices.

However, ensuing Confederate military successes demonstrated that prognostications of its impending demise demonstrated the government’s crystal ball was cracked.

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Wilkes-Barre Documents Shed Light on PA Man Helping to Equip Civil War Soldiers


Document outlines Lincoln's promotion of John Hall to captain within the Commissary of Subsistence

Of The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

There isn't much that can top a signed letter from Teddy Roosevelt, or an 1806 land grant containing the signatures of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

But Larry Cook of Dallas, Luzerne County, who is an avid collector and expert on presidential history, may have found the item that can top the signed Roosevelt and Jefferson documents that are among the 8,000 pieces in his collection.

Cook recently acquired a document that is not only rare but could shed light on a bit of unknown history regarding one of America's most famous presidents.

Last summer, Cook added a document to his collection that contains the signature of Abraham Lincoln.

Written on vellum paper, the document outlines Lincoln's promotion of John Hall to captain within the Commissary of Subsistence, a department in the Army in charge of securing supplies for soldiers.

Lincoln penned the official military commission for Hall on Aug. 3, 1861 — a little more than five months into his presidency — and in addition to his signature it is also signed by Thomas Scott, who was acting Secretary of War at the time.

Along with the Lincoln document, Cook also acquired John Hall's orders book from the Civil War, which includes the entire commission, handwritten word for word.

Also included is an antique table and tea set once owned by Hall, two documents signed by presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Chester Arthur naming William Wiley, Hall's son-in-law and a Civil War veteran, as postmaster for Washington County, and Wiley's photo taken during the war.

The collection is a spider web of names and dates that Cook has been able to connect, yet there is one mystery that he believes the documents may be able to solve.

It is well-documented that Lincoln had two principle secretaries — John Hay and John Nicolay.

Cook believes the commission and the Civil War orders book offer hints that Lincoln actually had a third secretary during his presidency — Hall.

“If I can get concrete proof that Hall was also Abraham Lincoln's secretary, if that can be confirmed, then we're discovering a piece of history that isn't known,” Cook told The Times Leader.

But first, how did Cook discover the signed Lincoln document in the first place?

Last summer, he said, a Realtor friend contacted him about a house that was being listed in Mountain Top. The Realtor, knowing Cook is an expert on presidential history, told him the homeowners had an ancestor who worked for Lincoln and they had some items related to the president.

The ancestor was Hall, and when Cook acquired the collection he became the first person outside of the family to possess the document since it was created in 1861.

“Any commission signed by Abraham Lincoln is rare, but to get it directly from the family who had it since 1861 is significant,” Cook said. “This is like finding a split window 1963 Corvette in a garage that's never been driven. I am honored they entrusted it to me to be the custodian of these items.”

Cook also has a copy of Hall's obituary from 1906 which states Hall, who was from Washington County, Pennsylvania, was military secretary under Lincoln.

Hall also had experience with the railroad, and Cook reasons that's why Lincoln named him as commissary of subsistence, to coordinate deliveries of food and provisions to soldiers. He also figures Scott had something to do with it, as he was once president of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

“If Hall was serving as private secretary to Lincoln at the time, well, the Civil War wasn't ending and it's possible that Lincoln felt Hall was more valuable in the commissary of subsistence because of his railroad experience,” Cook said. “This document is highly important because of it being connected to Lincoln, there is a lot of history attached to it and possibly unknown history that will be uncovered.”

To determine if Hall was indeed the third personal secretary for Lincoln, Cook is in contact with experts across the country and he plans to search the National Archives and speak with the White House Historical Division.

“I'm hoping to find correspondence that John Hall signed on behalf of Abraham Lincoln. That would prove he acted as secretary,” Cook said.

In the meantime, Cook will incorporate the Lincoln document, which measures 14-by-16 inches, into the presentations he gives on presidential history throughout the country. The document has held up well over the last 157 years as it was kept out of direct sunlight and Lincoln's signature is clearly visible.

Cook hasn't had the Lincoln document appraised but he said it has a special place in his collection and possibly American history as well.

“It's very surreal knowing that this document was in Lincoln's hands, and it sat on his desk in the White House during the Civil War,” Cook said.


Christmas Day 150 Years Ago - Presidential Pardons for Confederate Soldiers

Confederate Reenactors.jpeg

All Confederate soldiers gain presidential pardons, Dec. 25, 1868


In the aftermath of the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson on this day in 1868 issued pardons to all Confederate soldiers who fought in that conflict. The president extended “unconditionally, and without reservation ... a full pardon and amnesty for the offence [sic] of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late Civil War, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws.”

In his Christmas Day Proclamation, Johnson said his action would “renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole, and their respect for and attachment to the national [e.g., federal] government, designed by its patriotic founders for the general good.”

As the vice president, Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, had succeeded the assassinated Abraham Lincoln to the presidency shortly after the Union victory.

On Dec. 8, 1863, in his annual message to Congress, Lincoln, the first Republican president, had outlined his plans for reconstruction of the South, including amnesty terms for former Confederates. A pardon would require an oath of allegiance, but it would not restore ownership to former slaves, or restore confiscated property that involved a third party.

As Lincoln further envisioned his actions, his pardons would have excluded officeholders of the Confederate government or persons who had mistreated prisoners.

Congress, however, objected to Lincoln's plans as too lenient and refused to recognize delegates from the reconstructed governments of Louisiana and Arkansas. With radical Republican lawmakers in full control of the legislative agenda, Congress instead passed the Wade-Davis Bill. This measure required half of any former Confederate state’s voters to swear allegiance to the United States and that they had not supported the Confederacy. While the bill also ended slavery, it did not allow former slaves to vote. Lincoln vetoed the bill.

During his presidency, Lincoln issued 64 pardons for war-related offences: 22 for conspiracy, 17 for treason, 12 for rebellion, nine for holding an office under the Confederacy, and four for serving with the rebels.

Under the terms of surrender for the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 10, 1865, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant stipulated that “each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.”

On May 5, 1965, the paroles were further extended so that soldiers from the 11 Confederate states, plus West Virginia, would be allowed to return home, but that “all who claim homes in the District of Columbia and in states that never passed the Ordinance of Secession (Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri) have forfeited them and can only return thereto by complying with the amnesty proclamation of the president and obtaining special permission from the War Department.”

SOURCE: “This Day in Presidential History,” by Paul Brandus (2018)

Info on How Gov't Shutdown Impacts Gettysburg and Eisenhower Sites


Gettysburg National Military Park Accessible to Public during Government Shutdown
HOWEVER  Eisenhower National Historic Site will be closed during the shutdown.

Dec 22, 2018 - Gettysburg, Pa. – Due to the lapse of appropriations and the subsequent shutdown of the federal government, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. Park roads, memorials, and trails at Gettysburg National Military Park will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited.

The film, cyclorama painting and museum exhibits at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center remain open and available to visitors.  Licensed Battlefield Guides are available and giving battlefield tours.  For reservations call 877-874-2478.  Other tours and services may be available; check with providers of these tours for the latest information.

There will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services at Gettysburg National Military Park, including public information, trash collection, and facilities and road maintenance, including snow plowing. All park programs have been canceled, including Winter Lectures, Reading Adventures for Families, and the Battlefield Book Series.

During the shutdown, park social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current conditions. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg National Military Park, including the Annex, will be closed during the shutdown, as will the David Wills House. Eisenhower National Historic Site will be closed during the shutdown.

Please visit www.nps.gov and select “Find a Park” for additional information about access to other parks and sites in this area. However, note that because of the federal government shutdown, NPS social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current conditions.

For updates on the shutdown, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Partners support monument preservation at Gettysburg National Military Park


The Gettysburg Foundation and the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association (GBPA) have provided donations to match federal funds to preserve monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park. Thanks to partner support and federal funding from the Helium Act, a total of $188,129 is available to do repairs and preservation maintenance for more than 350 civil war monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield.

 The Gettysburg Foundation provided $50,765 and the GBPA provided $43,300 in a dollar-for-dollar match for $94,065 in federal funding.  National Park Service preservation specialists will use the funds to continue to work on more than 350 of Gettysburg’s 1300 monuments, steam cleaning stone features and pedestals, re-pointing and preserving masonry, power-washing and waxing all bronze elements, and repairing and replacing missing or broken bronze features, as necessary.

 The federal funding comes from the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, which provides $20 million in fiscal 2018 from proceeds from the sale of federal helium, to be used for deferred maintenance projects requiring a minimum 50% match from a non-federal funding source.

 “Public private partnerships help stretch federal dollars to take care of national parks,” said Ed Wenschhof Jr., acting superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park. “We’re very pleased to have the Gettysburg Foundation and the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association help us fund the care of these important monuments.”


 Beginning in 1863 veterans and survivors of the battle of Gettysburg preserved the battle grounds and created the commemorative features and monuments that still define the park today.  The 1895 law establishing Gettysburg National Military Park authorized the federal government to preserve the “important topographic features of the battlefield” and to preserve and mark the battle positions.

 Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and their commemorations.

 About the Gettysburg Foundation: The Gettysburg Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit philanthropic, educational organization operating in partnership with the National Park Service to preserve Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site, and to educate the public about their significance. The Foundation operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park.

 About the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association: Founded in 1959, the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, a 501(c)(3) corporation, is the oldest Civil War battlefield preservation organization in the nation.  Among its many preservation efforts, in 1999, the organization acquired, restored and now operates the historic Daniel Lady Farm on Hanover Street in Gettysburg

Atlanta's Famed Cyclorama Mural Will Tell the Truth About the Civil War Once More


by Jack Hitt

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When I was a little boy growing up in South Carolina, my mom decided to take me and a neighborhood girl on a big history trip and visit the sights in Atlanta. Emphasis on the big. We saw Stone Mountain, the half-finished Confederate rival of Mount Rushmore. And at some point I recall clicking through the turnstile of a massive building at the Atlanta Zoo to see something amazing, “the largest painting in the world.

I wish I could remember anything other than that everything felt dank in there, like a long unvisited cellar, but the thing was, as promised, insanely big. It was called the Cyclorama, and the canvas was suspended around the 360 degrees of a high circular wall, showing hundreds of clashing soldiers. If I had listened to the guide, I might have heard that here was a great Confederate victory in the Civil War, depicted in images almost three stories high and more than a football field long. And I would have learned of its mysterious origin—how in the 1890s, a circus came to town with this spectacular visual entertainment and some exotic animals. But the circus went bankrupt, and everything that I was looking at—this big canvas and all the animals—had washed up here, in Atlanta’s Grant Park.

All of that is an exaggeration, of course. It’s not the largest painting in the world, although it’s up there; and while it’s huge, those dimensions are mostly hyped. The painting depicts the Battle of Atlanta, a decisive Union victory in 1864. And the story of the Cyclorama’s journey is no carnival tale but more a Homeric odyssey for a canvas that got touched up and repainted as it got kicked farther and farther south until it was marooned in the Atlanta Zoo.

To gaze upon the painting today—restored, reinstalled and reopening in February at the Atlanta History Center—is to see an unintended monument to the wonderments of accretion: accretions not merely of paint, but of mythmaking, distortion, error, misinterpretation, politics, opportunism, crowd-pleasing, revisionism, marketing, propaganda and cover-up (literally). Only a few years ago, the attraction seemed done for. Attendance was down to stragglers, and the city was hemorrhaging money. The future of the big canvas seemed to be a storage bin somewhere and, after some time, the dustbin.

But then a few folks in Atlanta realized that restoring the painting would not only resurrect one of the more curious visual illusions of the 1880s, but also show, in the paint in front of your eyes, a neat timeline of the many shifts in Southern history since Appomattox. This was no mere cyclorama. What the saviors had on their hands was, ladies and gentlemen, the largest palimpsest of Civil War memory to be found anywhere on planet Earth—the Atlanta Cyclorama, one of the great wonders of the postmodern world.

Cycloramas were a big popular entertainment once upon a time, and the way it worked was this: Once you entered the big building you would typically proceed to a staircase that you walked up, to a platform located in the dead center of a painting, completely encircling you. The canvas was slightly bowed away from the wall, and the horizon line of the painting’s action was at the viewer’s eye level. As much as a third of the top of the painting was sky painted increasingly dark to the top to create a sense of distance extending away. And the bottom of the canvas would often be packed up against a flooring of dirt with real bushes and maybe guns or campsites, all part of a ground-floor diorama that, in the limited lighting, caused the imagery in the painting to pop in the viewer’s mind as a kind of all-enveloping 3-D sensation.

“It was the virtual reality of its day,” Gordon Jones, the curator at the Atlanta History Center, told me. The effect was like walking inside one of… READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE


Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/atlanta-famed-cyclorama-tell-truth-civil-war-once-again-180970715/#AO7CqgKBkk2jrCST.99

Ed Wenschhof Jr. arrives as acting superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site

Ed Wenschhof Jr..JPG

Ed Wenschhof Jr. has arrived as the acting superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. He will serve in this position until approximately April 5, 2019.

Wenschhof currently serves as Chief Ranger at the C&O Canal National Historical Park, which follows the route of the 184.5 mile canal along the Potomac River from Washington D.C. to Cumberland Maryland. He has a wide depth of experience in management roles including serving as Acting Superintendent at Antietam National Battlefield and Catoctin Mountain Park.

“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to serve as acting superintendent for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site—the parks where I started my National Park Service career in 1984,” said Wenschhof. “I look forward to working with my NPS colleagues, park visitors, partners and the local community.”

Wenschhof worked for eight years at the Gettysburg parks, then transferred to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland, where he served for many years as chief of natural resources management and law enforcement. Since 2013 he has served in several positions at the C&O Canal National Historical Park and is currently the Chief Ranger. He is active in special event operations and served as incident commander for the 150thanniversaries at Manassas and Antietam and assisted with the Gettysburg 150th as well.

Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and their commemorations. Learn more at www.nps.gov/gett

Eisenhower National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and farms of the Eisenhower family as a fitting and enduring memorial to the life, work, and times of General Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and to the events of far-reaching importance that occurred on the property.  Learn more at www.nps.gov/eise



Beer and Bullets: The History of Beer in the Civil War

Generals Andrew A. Humphreys, Henry Slocum, William B. Franklin, William F. Barry, John Newton, and others gathered near a keg of beer at Cumberland Landing, Va, in May of 1862.

Generals Andrew A. Humphreys, Henry Slocum, William B. Franklin, William F. Barry, John Newton, and others gathered near a keg of beer at Cumberland Landing, Va, in May of 1862.

From the newsletter of the American Battlefield Trust

Sawbones. Crazy Bet. Killer Angel. These are just some of the names of beers that today bear names inspired by the Civil War. Along with historical names, breweries throughout the nation have also chosen Civil War inspired locations or recipes, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine has even teamed up with a brewery to create its own unique, history-themed beer. It is tempting to think that this easy relationship between beer and these people and places dates back to the war itself. Yet, the story of beer, brewers, and breweries in the American Civil War is a bit more complex than it appears. Just as this is a story of water, hops, and barley, it is also a story of religion, politics, and what it means to be an American.

Beer’s place in the Civil War begins in the 1850s, during the influx of German immigrants who came largely to the North seeking refuge from political persecution and poverty following the revolutions that broke out in Germany in 1848 and 1849. Upon arriving in the United States, a number of German immigrants found and joined the growing market for beer in German-heavy cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. Yet, this growing industry clashed with the religiously-inspired temperance movement, nativism, and anti-Catholic sentiment that were also prevalent during the 1850s. Aside from the Know-Nothings, a political party dedicated to xenophobia and anti-Catholicism, the Whigs hated alcohol and immigrants and the Democrats supported slavery, an institution that many previously oppressed Germans disliked. Uncertain in their political identity, some German immigrants turned to the new Republican party, which opposed slavery and temperance but remained noncommittal on immigrants. Xenophobia and temperance became intertwined as politicians and social reformers alike blamed German immigrants and the alcohol they brought with them for the nation’s growing issues.

Regardless of pre-war nativism, Germans throughout the country enlisted by the thousands once war came, ultimately forming 10% of the Union army and a sizeable market for beer. Regulations on the prevalence of the beverage among the troops began as early as September 1861, orders which were a result largely of some commanding officers’ sympathy to the temperance movement and the boisterous and sometimes violent outcomes of soldiers’ access to the drink. These early regulations had little impact on the German regiments of the Union armies, however, as their officers (who were commonly Germans themselves) allowed their soldiers access to beer for cultural reasons. 

Unfortunately, this allowance only served to deepen the dislike that many American soldiers felt for their German counterparts. At first, the lack of beer drove American soldiers into German camps hoping for access to their supply; however, resulting behavioral problems among the American troops encamped near German units only inspired greater dislike among American and temperance-minded officers, as well as more stringent restrictions on beer for German units. As an increasing number of sutlers faced pressure to stop selling beer, German regiments began guarding their supply more closely, furthering the divide between German and American soldiers.

Union German soldiers across both theaters of war largely maintained this access to beer for the first two years of the war. Soldiers stationed in large western cities with a large German presence, such as St. Louis and New Orleans, found this access to be particularly easy, as a few breweries proved willing to donate kegs of their product to the cause. By late 1863, however, even German soldiers around the generous breweries of these cities found their access cut off due to increased army regulations. Officers ordered the closure of businesses selling all intoxicating beverages near army encampments, limiting the importation and sale of small quantities of alcohol to pharmacies, doctors, and hotels. By the brutal final years of the war, beer was a rare luxury item for all soldiers of the Union, regardless of nationality

Unlike the Union, the Confederacy had few German immigrants, which in turn resulted in a general disinterest toward beer and a cultural preference for whiskey. For the few Germans that did fight for the South, however, beer continued to play an important role in their identity. As one soldier recounted, Union German prison guards in St. Louis shared beer with their Confederate German inmates in recognition of their shared heritage. After the war, the regional loyalties of many wartime Germans faded in the face of continued nativist sentiment and an apparent unappreciation for their role in the war. As the rest of the nation struggled to reunite during Reconstruction, German immigrants drew together to forge a German-American identity that continues to resonate to this day. Today, some commercial beers still bear German names, including some from brewers, like Anheuser-Busch, that survived the Civil War. Microbreweries also speak to this history, continuing a legacy started so long ago by the German immigrants of the 1840s and 50s.

The Confederacy was built on slavery. How can so many Southern whites still believe otherwise?

Frank Earnest is chief of heritage defense for the Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Frank Earnest is chief of heritage defense for the Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Story by Paul Duggan


NOVEMBER 28, 2018

In July, a 62-year-old white man named Frank Earnest, one of the country’s most ardent defenders of Confederate monuments, traveled 200 miles from his Virginia home to Washington, D.C., and got in line at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. You could say he stood out among the throng of visitors, most of them black. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Frank sported a thatch of chin whiskers straight from a daguerreotype — an ample goatee reminiscent of that of Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, a rebel hero of his. In the lobby, as he emptied his pockets at a metal detector, I waited for the attendant, a cordial woman, to notice his key fob, bearing the Confederate flag and the legend “Don’t Mess With Dixie.”

She flashed him a wary glance: “Don’t mess with Dixie? What’s that supposed to mean?” Frank, a spokesman for the nation’s largest Confederate heritage group, replied evenly, “Means don’t mess with Dixie.” Otherwise, he managed to hold his tongue, a triumph of willpower in his case. With the legacy of his rebel ancestors under constant assault by “nutty liberals,” and with the future of Confederate monuments in jeopardy, he is easily irritated and given to bitter sarcasm. As usual, Frank, in a gray suit, wore an array of Confederacy-themed lapel pins, including two replicas of the flag. I suggested he take them off to avoid any hard feelings in the museum, but he refused. “It would be hypocritical of me,” he declared, breathing heavily as he lumbered toward an escalator. Frank, who is slowed by dire respiratory ailments, paused to rest against a wall, and as he leaned there, defiantly unreconstructed, he seemed a museum piece in his own right, a living relic up from the post-bellum ashes.

I had invited him here for a specific purpose — the same reason I had been spending time with him over the previous 10 months, trekking to far-flung Confederate historical sites. Frank is “chief of heritage defense” for the Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans. Like others in the Sons, he insists that he is not racist and that the Civil War was not, fundamentally, about slavery. These days, you can find men (and women) like him at government meetings all over the South, fighting to keep Old Dixie, in granite and bronze, alive in the public square. You can hear them espousing a pseudo-history, the gauzy fiction of the Lost Cause, which soft-pedals the atrocities of slavery and accentuates Confederate grievance and gallantry…



UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ Could Be Coming Back to Campus. Here’s What to Know

UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ Could Be Coming Back to Campus. Here’s What to Know

On Monday, the university’s Board of Trustees unveiled a controversial proposal to build a “history and education” center to house the Confederate monument


 August 20, 2018 file photo showing police standing guard after the Confederate statue Silent Sam was toppled by protesters on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By Brigit Katz


DECEMBER 5, 2018

Several hundred protesters marched on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Monday night hours after the university’s Board of Trustees announced its proposal to build a $5.3 million facility to house a Confederate monument known as "Silent Sam," which was toppled from its pedestal on campus in August.

Since then, the statue has been stored in an undisclosed location while the board deliberated on its fate. The board's solution, put forth this week, proposes building a $5.3 million "history and education" facility to house the controversial monument—a plan that has angered those who believe the statue should be removed from the campus entirely, reports the Associated Press.

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and several trustees said they wanted to take Silent Sam off campus, but were bound by a 2015 state law that prohibits the removal of historic monuments, unless relocation is necessary for preservation purposes or due to construction projects. The law also stipulates that if a statue is permanently relocated, it must be moved “to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access.”
Returning the statue to its outdoor location on the main campus was, according to Folt, “impossible” due to safety concerns. The new proposal recommends building an indoor education center that will tell the “full history of this university, from before settlement to its emergence this day as one of the leading public state research universities in America,” according to Folt, as CNN’s Eric Levenson and Amir Vera report. The facility will be open to the public and protections of buffers and security will be put in place. In addition to the $5.3 million construction costs, the building will require $800,000 annually to maintain its operations.

Officials proposed placing the monument south of the university’s hospital, located about a mile away from where Silent Sam once stood. According to the proposal, the new site will be “the next area of growth for campus.”

News of the board’s recommendation led to demonstrators converging at the barricaded area that formerly housed the monument on Monday night. There was a heavy police presence at the site, and when the assembled crowd began pushing on the barricades, officers put on riot gear. Maya Little, a graduate student and prominent activist, was arrested in connection with the protest. Another graduate student faced numerous charges, including assaulting a police officer.

Explaining the unrest on campus, associate professor of art Cary Levine told Levenson and Vera that students were “riled up and just don't understand why the university is committing to building a $5.3 million building to house what to them is a symbol of pain and white supremacy.”

“I think that I sympathize with that point of view,” Levine added.

Silent Sam was erected on the UNC campus in 1913, with support from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The statue depicts a soldier holding a gun without ammunition—which is why the statue is known as “Silent Sam”—and a panel on the side of the monument shows a woman, representing the state, urging a student to join the fight for the Confederacy.

The final say in what happens to the monument rests with the Board of Governors, a body that oversees the state-wide university system. The board will consider the issue when it meets on December 14.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/unc-plans-house-confederate-monument-5-million-building-angering-protestors-180970959/#QEH6C00epyw882y4.99