tv The Civil War CSPAN June 27, 2015 6:57pm-7:59pm EDT
>> coming up next, a portion of a conference on the end of the civil war. historians discuss the cultural environments in the north. the virginia sesquicentennial organized this event. it is about an hour. >> our topic is of the union the war and within the framework of how americans remembered it from the wartime generation and later. everybody is awake. matt john, and joan are our panel this time around. the first question i want us to
talk about is what union meant to the loyal citizenry during the war. to begin, i would like all of you to discuss what "loyal" mea nt within the context of the u.s. effort during the war. joan: i will start. one of the members of the audience came up to me and asked me to make sure there were more jokes in the session. [laughter] i will try. i think at a very basic level, i think these concepts are very tied together, union loyalty and sacrifice, patriotism, nationalism. it meant loyalty or country, loyal to the country that was founded in the revolutionary war and was established by the
constitution, followed through by george washington. that is what northerners thought. keep the union whole. american exceptionalism was popular back then. i think we can look at the speeches of abraham lincoln for that. the point is that it was a country that was very well aware of that history and the importance of keeping the country together. john: not just the confederacy. i agree. the union is looking back at that as well, the common heritage. i would like to suggest that loyalty probably depends in many respects on your relationship to the coming war. border states, for example, who might be loyal to the union, but at the same time, feel that perhaps a war against slavery
would not be particularly welcome. gary: let me interrupt. it is a misnomer to say there is a war between the north and south because three southern states remain loyal to the united states. missouri kentucky, maryland, delaware. john: absolutely. we even have northerners who are -- a few northerners who make statements to suggest that if they are entirely loyal to the nation. they are not necessarily willing to oppose it militarily. wayward sisters, go in peace. gideon welles. loyalty itself, though i think we will use it in the shorthand term, talking about the way the jones talked about it, there are places where it is the union as it was, the union as it might be the union with slavery the union without slavery. it is complicated. matt: i would say at a base
level, the actual expectation is really much lower than we might think. to be a loyal citizen in the union is to support the war. when a friend says, if you are in favor of the war, you say yeah. be honest. don't cheat. there are multiple ways where you can be dishonest and keep this -- cheat the system. you can't do that. the last thing, the second half of the war don't whine. a loyal citizen doesn't whine. that is articulated over and over in all sorts of ways. you don't have to do anything, but follow the rules and don't whine. gary: that would mean, don't sell shoddy goods to the government for use in the war effort. is that something you could do to break the rules?
matt: it is fine to profit off the war and sell stuff. it is built upon capitalism. it is not fine to cheat by selling goods that fall apart. it is not fine to sell materials that don't match the contract. it is fine to get filthy rich off the rules. gary: is it fine not to put on a blue uniform? [laughter] i don't want everyone to talk at once. in the first rush to the colors, there is no conscription, of course, on either side. the absolute majority of all men on both sides were true volunteers. they went in before there was conscription. the confederate states have been established. the nation is raising armies to repress the rebellion. can you be a loyal male citizen and not offer military service? joan: the answer is yes.
i am still thinking about the "don't whine." that is a low bar for loyalty. i think things that john and matt brought up occurred during the war because the north was so big, had so many citizens. so many citizens especially in ohio and indiana, and other states with people who settled there before the war. yes. there were divided loyalties complicated loyalties. if we think about what unified the northern section of the united states after fort sumter we have to think of the amazing level of patriotism, the recognition that this was real. all the stuff that happened in the 1850's, the debate about the union, now it was happening.
i think at that moment, people did reflect on what it meant to be an american. they also thought about god and how god would favor the united states because it had so far in the country's history. i think that perhaps in 1861, more people thought every man should in list. we will see that change over the time because there simply wasn't enough room. gary: i want to build on the theme of getting right with the founders. both sides believed they were carrying forward the tradition of the founders. the confederacy put george washington on the great seal. they would argue they were aligned with the founders, and so would people in the united states who are geared or union -- argued for union. what particularly would unionist have said, this is important and why we cannot let secession go unchallenged?
so what if south carolina secedes? john: it is constitutional. the political constitution system. it is very unlikely that many northerners come daily into contact with the federal government. almost none. maybe a trip to the post office and there is a flag. on less you are importing or exporting, you will not have much contact. there are no taxes in the sense that we know them. they are excise taxes. your connection to the nation's political. political participation. i think of bellows, who was responding and saying, of course we are obsessed with politics. every man in the united states feels himself to be a part of the government. gary: which set them aside from every other society in the western world. joan: the last best hope on earth. if we don't preserve democracy
now, it is lost. gary: europe was going the other way in the wake of the revolution of the 1840's. they did have a sense of that, a sense of economic possibility. matt: i would agree with all that. the constitution creates a government. the union constitutes the embodiment of this government. secession has broken the nation but it has challenged the solidarity. we get ahead of ourselves there. john: on the same sentiment of not getting ahead of ourselves this is the transgression of secession. you are no longer following the laws. you are no longer under the constitution. sherman is communicating with hood outside atlanta and that is what he is saying. if you want us to go away, return and follow the laws.
that is a pervasive connection. gary: the problem with the constitution as it did not clearly say you can or cannot withdraw from the union constitutionally. that is what they would argue. john: true. it does provide for conventions of states to occasionally unamended correct the constitution. that was not the avenue chosen the option chosen, guide the -- by the confederacy. joan: an election that was held legally and resulted in the election of a republican president, largely due because of the split of the democratic party, is no reason to secede northern people would argue. gary: can we agree that initially in the war, it is a war to restore -- there is no question there are issues related to slavery that brought on secession and by extension
trigger the war but in terms of motivation of citizenry, is it a war for the union to begin? joan: i agree. matt: when we analyze historic accuracy, we need to keep in mind that they frequently misconstrue that which they are seeing. i think most of these rank and file northerners in favor of the union don't see the seceding states as acting in this way. they see them as being led astray by a fairly small number of crazy slave-ocracy types. therefore, the enemy is not a bunch of southern states, but rather a much smaller body of anti-democratic types. gary: if it begins as a war for the union, does it turn into something else?
does the conception of union turn into something else? two parts. a could take us off in any direction. matt: the obvious answer, with the emancipation proclamation, some aspect of the global aims changed. the army of emancipation. i think that trumps the prior and ongoing commitment to union. that is the add-on. it is less significant to the rank and file northerners. joan: the unintended consequences of great wars that you alluded to in the earlier panel addresses this issue directly. as the war proceeded in 1861, slaves were coming behind union army lines. the first occurred in virginia. benjamin butler eventually declared them contraband.
it was already unraveling. it brought the united states into a situation where they had to figure out a way to legalize this movement. that didn't necessarily change the aim of the war to preserve the union. at that point, it meant to the means were going to be a little bit different and unanticipated. until 1862, i would say the majority of northern people expected the union to be restored as it was. john: i would agree with that. 1862 becomes a pivotal year almost by default. the secession and the removal of political opposition in congress. a lot of the law was having to
do with the abolition of slavery in the district of columbia, the territories, the employment of black men for military services. there is actual legislation written. the window of opportunity has presented itself. republicans and some democrats jump in in that opportunity. lincoln also seize that opportunity. gary: he did not wanted to degenerate into a remorseless revolutionary struggle. he changes his mind in the early summer of 1862. why? what changes in the early summer? joan: george b mcclellan. [laughter] you know what i am saying? gary: i do know what you are saying. yes. joan: his failure to take
richmond. the seven days in the summer of 1862. it played a big role in hastening the process by which lincoln decided that we need to think about emancipation. gary: the united states was absolutely winning the war to that point. you are smiling, john. it is a symphony of catastrophe in the west. john: winning the war, coming hot on the heels of mcclellan. gary: you need mcclellan, but you also need joseph johnstone for that to work. we don't like counterfactual's, but if he had not been wounded i can't imagine -- joan: if only -- we would have won the war. john: if johnstone is not wounded and mcclellan is --
johnstone woke up every day and said, what a great day to retreat. matt: the seven-day signals that it will be a longer war. --gary: the seven-day signals that it will be a longer war. you will have to do things you did not do before. joan: the chronology is important. i've been researching for donaldson, which occurred in february of 1862. the follow for donaldson, the first big union victory engineered by u.s. grant. what the aftermath to that also showed was how difficult this war was going to be to bring to a close the union as it was
because right away, the slaves demanded attention. the slaves came to the union army in tennessee and in terms of the overall occupation policies had to be developed for them. slavery was diminishing at that point. gary: thousands of black refugees present the u.s. government with a topic they had to deal with. john: having derived the system of thinking about fugitive slaves as contraband, property, using the laws of property against the confederacy in the context of war, combined with mcclellan, allows lincoln to think about the emancipation proclamation being an act of war rather than an act of social or racial policy. gary: talk about the democratic party a little bit and how you have this one-dimensional view of the party in many ways.
can you complicate that view of the peace of the electric that made up 45% of the voting public in the united states? matt: in the first two years, the federal government talks about legislation. much of that is barely tied to the war effort. it is tied to antebellum republican platforms. it seems pretty clear that the rank-and-file democrats that you could be in favor of the union and winning the war. in terms of complication, one of the biggest errors we make, broadly speaking, is thinking of the democrats as being copperhead. i think there is a substantial body of people who are pretty nominally pro-war.
their thought is don't whine. there is a substantial body of people who are democrats by tradition, by family, and by ideology who still think the war ought to be won but you can still object to an awful lot of things, even the name of the war, including emancipation and construction -- conscription. yeah. i think democrats are going to be in many ways a loyal opposition and not -- john: this takes us back to the original question about loyalty. we have never as a nation had a well-defined policy about what is permissible in terms of defense, especially in times of war and when we think national security is at risk. a lot of the democrats we think
of as copperheads or edging toward some kind of disruptive national behavior actually, most of what he is saying is something most of which some republicans are saying. there are some moments where he transgresses that line. for the most part, what he is talking about is not action. it is not disruptive let's associate for the purposes of destroying. he's talking about trying to bring the union back in the sense of its own values. those are the moments of transgression, without necessarily being in favor of the war. that is the one dissent i would have from you. you said loyalty could be determined by your support of the war. i think loyalty to the nation might actually include, if you feel the transgression is late enough -- great enough, lack of support for the war. joan: i think the democratic
party has a hard time placing itself in opposition, especially in the early years of the war because they did not want to be considered disloyal. this can be compared to a similar process in the confederacy, where the other side of loyalty issue had to be secured as well. there is a positive way of attaching the citizenry to feelings of nationalism and support for the government and the war, but there is also, what do you do with the people who are not loyal or seem not to be loyal? the democrats had to -- most of them supported the warped or not all of them, but most of them supported the war in the early years, but were bothered by the lincoln administration's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. the opposition found more resonance. this was especially true with emancipation. that was, and we can go into the
draft later, but that gave the democrats -- it sounds odd to say it, a winning issue against the republicans. some legitimacy among the electorate, who at this point may be did not -- maybe did not want to stop the work, but didn't like the direction it was going. gary: conscription and emancipation came together in a toxic way from lincoln's point of view, gave the democrats two big issues. the armies are losing at the same time. all of those things together. lincoln cannot win the war with only republican supporting the war and only republicans in the army. if we track his statements through the whole war, would we see a consist and see and how he uses the union to try to garner the widest possible political support for the war? that got no comments.
joan: yes. you have studied his messages to congress. go ahead, john. john: no, i wasn't -- i was agreeing wtih you -- with you. matt:gary: this is not where i wanted it to go, but i think he does have a consistent -- my point i was hoping you are going to make me agree with -- [laughter] was going to be that he always uses the union because he knows that well, that is the best chance even as he grows disenchanted with the border states. as late as december of 1864, he says, in a great war, there has to be one thing that basically everyone agrees about. in this war, it is union but one of the means to achieve union at that point was the 13th amendment because the 13th
amendment and killing slavery would help defeat the rebels and help save the union. joan: that was one of lincoln's great characteristics during the war, as a politician. he thought of himself as president of the whole country. he wanted to appeal to as many different groups as possible in this diverse united states of america. just the contentiousness and the very nature of the large area made it a difficult task. in the civil war strive for unity wherever you can. that is what he did. in his messages, he did. as the war went on, we are seeing a mystical union, a transcendent unionism that we remember today so well from his speeches. matt: in lincoln's writings he
articulates his vision of what a good citizen is. when he does, it is very rare. a good citizen is somebody who is engaged in the political discourse. they pay attention. they read the news. they have an opinion. they vote. he writes this wonderful letter to a minister in new england who walks two miles to vote be lincoln writes a letter to him saying, thank you so much for being a good vitis -- good citizen and voting. he never suggests that citizenship requires sacrifice for the war, other than being not outright treasonous. gary: talk about the special problems that unionists in border states opposed. -- posed. how does your war unfold?
you decided to stay loyal to the united states and the war unfolds. what are the conditions? john: in kentucky, one of the big issues as slaveholders, slaveholders who want to be loyal and stay in the union but at the same time, hold the property. that is problematic. the further you go into the war lincoln is already -- lincoln has already tried several times to say, let's work out a gradual emancipation system and compensate you for the ownership of slavery. time after time, they fall act on their border state identity and the border state need to keep slaves. their economy is built around that. not to plug for -- hi, amy. i have a grad student writing a great dissertation. she has a chapter on george, an
important figure, a painter, who becomes involved in the military service for a short time. can you be a loyal citizen without putting on a uniform? he did put on a uniform, so that does not work. he went on to be state treasurer. loyal, can it be an enthusiastic republican during the war? it came to blows almost with thomas ewing. the idea that there are moments that the military, for what it believes and advertises as military necessity, takes on an excess of power, exercises the excess of power, that turned being him against the war effort in missouri. today, we think of him as a pro-southerner person, which he never was. matt: a simple addition for the
northern states, you go through four years without ever being in fear of -- in the border states, not only are you likely to encounter guys with guns, you might well encounter them with guys -- encounter people with guys onns on either side. if you are living in maine, you are not worried about guys with guns all that much. joan: that is an excellent point. i also have a graduate student writing about missouri during the civil war. we should talk about a different point of view. as she is looking at the counties that comprised little dixie. she is examining the nightmarish situation that so many civilians
found, women in the older men who stayed at home, which does make it very different than the border state of maryland, which felt the extremely heavy hand of the federal government from the beginning. in these civilian communities, it could be that the u.s. soldiers would come by, breeze by occupy, then they would leave. because the confederates ran them out, these citizens were caught in between and in between. some of them were slaveholders, some were for the united states. you wouldn't have that problem in st. louis. but certainly in the countryside. john: in western maryland, he's going to recruit men out of western maryland.
no one shows up. the rifles go back to the south -- gary: bragg took been to kentucky. -- took them to kentucky. matt:john: kentucky becomes more confederate after the war. in missouri, despite all of the absolute horror that many of the citizens face, once clayborn is chased out of the state and the confederate government is formed in taxes -- texas, missouri remains loyal. gary: we've talked about how individuals fit into the different themes. i would like to talk about how important to figure u.s. grant was in terms of a union formulation of the war. what is he represent -- what
does he represent people of united states? john: i can take that question. gary: take it. [laughter] john: i have tracked his career throughout the war. what is remarkable to me -- u.s. grant, the top union general of the war, the most successful general of the war by far for lincoln. the one who ended up in the east directing all the u.s. army's, however, when he seemed to symbolize -- one of the things if you want to talk about the architects of the union cause and look at the military, grant to me and the people back then represented the citizen soldier fighting for democracy. fighting to save the republic. he was immensely important in consolidating support. he didn't have the union army
camp was compared to the confederate army or the army of northern virginia. under lee, as far as the passion had for the confederates -- the confederates had for him. you cannot discount the union army. i think grant became a symbol of the union army and the symbol of the country staying together. gary: he appealed across political lines for most of the war. john: democrats -- joan: democrats and rebut lukens wanted him to run in 1864. he declined. matt: -- john: in addition to the political structures, you are right. when the war begins, the military becomes a third part of that. we talked in the lost cause being rooted and admiration for the confederate soldier and his officers. think during the war how the war goes how the military is
successful or unsuccessful is directly related, as seen by the loyal north as an indicator of their cause as well. matt: if we have been able whole loyal citizens -- gary: if we had been able to pull loyal citizens, what would be major elements of the response speed? -- responses be? matt: the top answer is going to be restore the union. those people would go on to say ended slavery and punish the people who started this thing. killing slavery does punish the people that started this thing. matt: -- john: is the destruction of the institution. joan: i agree. it securing the union, however by 1865, i do believe that a sizable number of white northerners had come to very
much support emancipation as a part of that goal. i think increasing numbers after the war, they would be proud of their role in securing emancipation. although their support did not extend to equal rights, securing equal rights. john: the trick is with those two things, what is obvious, the destruction of slavery is obvious. 4 million people aren't out of jobs and new jobs. -- are out of jobs. and need jobs. you can see the result almost immediately. how do you see a union? how do you measure it. they are not shooting at us anymore. that seems like a low threshold for unionism. that is really one of the conundrums that plagues the united states. for the next several decades.
gary: most loyal citizens said there was unfinished business before johnson goes off track in the summer of 1865. gary:matt: right after the war? except to the extent that some portion of them say more people need to be honda h --ung -- hung . i do think at the end of the war people were saying if we had six more months, we could get the thing done. joan: chronology is everything. if you asked them on april 10, 1865, he would be exhilaration of the country can be seen healing. if you asked them after lincoln 's assassination, that would be different. if you asked them during the
summer of 1865 and through 1866, living through andrew johnson's reconstruction, where it seemed it that the x confederates were emboldened to such an extent that the ignored -- it seems that they not only ignored but disrespected the results of the war, i think a lot of northerners would be upset. and in fact, they were. we know the results of the vote that was cast that gave the vetoproof congress for andrew johnson to deal with for the rest of his administration. however, i'm going to follow this to the bitter end. in 1868, when it seemed that once again, the country was on the right track and u.s. grant was president, the vote for him by the northern -- the united states people in the north and
african-americans -- it's over. we secure the union, we stabilize the south, and now we can go back to our lives. matt: -- john: northerners are aghast at the behaviors they seem politically by white southern democrats. are they surprised by that? if you skip ahead a year, i think the northern voters were thinking i didn't see that coming, to the extent to which they did it. gary: they were surprised by the behavior of southerners. matt: sherman marking -- marching to the south, the idea that they seem to be completely without weapons weren't optional
recourse. john: the military defeat seemed to be overwhelming to northerners. the second is not just oh, you do have the wherewithal to try to put the society back together very quickly, the other is disrespecting of the victory. that was talked about earlier panels, the repudiation of appomattox. when mississippi becomes the first aid to jump out in front of the black codes problem and try to reestablish a racially hierarchical society without slavery, i do think a lot of the war aims, even those who perhaps relate getting on the bandwagon for emancipation are suddenly believing that southern obstinacy connection to derail some of this. gary: to what degree do you see the 14th and 15th amendments as a follow-through, more about punishing or dealing with the white south they would have a different formulation for them
than we would have looking backward towards them? how much of that is to continue the process of making certain former confederates not go too far in the wake of defeat? john: i think it's essential. the passage of those moments are driven by the idea that we have to get the constitution changed with the understanding that a sufficient majority of states to overturn an amendment would have been almost impossible. it's a race. the stronger the south seems to get, the more and more by the time you get to 69, 70, 71, states are being remitted into the union and beyond the realm of congressional instruction. there is an absolute panic to get that amendment, and in order to do what can be done within the limited scope, what they're thinking of the limited scope of construction. joan: the radical republicans that backed the 14th and 15th
amendment, and the republican majorities in the states in the north ensured that these amendments would pass. they didn't put it to a vote because it probably would've lost, if they put it to a vote in the northern states. the radical republicans, their agenda predominated from 1868 -- 1866 to 1868. they envision the south, made in the north's image, and with the help of black men voting, the republican party would have a chance to establish itself. a real two-party system. they got it, the republican party is in the south now. [laughter] matt: maybe not exactly the way they envisioned it. [laughter]
matt: one could argue that the 14th and 15th amendments are an active punishment, but they are also a useful route rather than pursuing treason and other forms of retribution. we can in a sense, punish them this way rather than with a bunch of court cases and show trials. all of which would be difficult in multiple ways. the 14th and 15th amendments conserve multiple purposes that are comparable. joan: i agree with you, and bill blair. i agree with everybody. but the fact that, to perhaps the taking away temporarily the vote of the southern white males in preventing certain categories of x confederates from holding office was considered a great
punishment, greater than perhaps, treason trial. the problem from the perspective of the radical republicans is based saw their program unravel and ultimately end in some failure. they didn't do it long enough. because that would transgress one of the goals of the war, which is reunion. john: since we had a panel that dealt with assassination surrenders, i have a question. if the retribution in terms of trials, treason trials was plan a comment that was shut down largely by andrew jackson's -- andrew johnson's proclamations which created a program for amnesty, the 14th 15th amendment then plan b? and that doesn't go very well so what his plan c? is there one?
gary: there is not a plan c. joan: what about plan z?i don't know. john: since we don't have the retribution, is it reasonable to then think about the lack of a more militaristic retribution punishment? is that a plan b that doesn't work? gary: it's absolutely essential to understand there was not going to be a major military presence in the former confederacy. even republicans in congress were not going to vote the money for that the people weren't interested in it. they -- the government's budget went to $1.3 billion in 1865 and that wasn't going to happen. part of the question is what can you do with the u.s. army that only has 50,000 soldiers in it. any huge proportion of them are
deployed to the west? i think the amendments are a way to do a great deal when you know you are not going to do -- certain options really aren't options. in a true occupation, i think is really not an option. we use that word lightly when i think we talk about a postwar occupation. they are united states soldiers there, african american soldiers, white soldiers, but there were one million u.s. soldiers deployed in may of 1865, they didn't occupy all of the south area. joan: they were deployed on an ad hoc basis. john: if you think of the rank-and-file white northern voters, at the beginning of the war, we can picture them favoring union. matt: we can picture them favoring emancipation as well as union. in 1868, reconstruction is we
can of it as foreign policy. do we really want to be spending our money on alabama? especially free blacks in alabama. it's no longer a union question it's a very different kind of ideological question for these folks. gary: i want to move to something else here. and that is how did proponents of what we will call the union memory of the war, the war that did this and did that, how did that play out the rest of the 19th century? while the wartime generation lived? everyone knows about lost cause monuments in the former confederacy. we have four of them in silence filled -- in charlottesville. we have a confederate statue in the university library in the university cemetery -- not in the library. joan: just in your office.
[laughter] gary: i will be sending my resume around beginning on monday. [laughter] gary: in the cemetery. john: i think you succeeded more jokes. gary: they talked about the decoration day, confederate memorial day and so forth. what is going on in the way of commemorating the union cause while the wartime generation still lives? what are some of the things that went on? joan: most of what i know is from reading john neff. [laughter] gary: one of you please say something. joan: i'm going to throw it to you. then that is the idea that somehow exists today, and was present in the discussion of the
lost causes is that is the most powerful cause, and it sprang full-blown in 1865, it's simply not true. all you have to do is go to national battlefield parks, see monuments to the citizen soldier of the army, the generals, the fact that the union cause preserving the republic, bringing emancipation, destroying the oligarchy that threatened the sanctity of the american union was gone forever was something that was of concern to millions of northerners come a they put just as much effort into writing textbooks and building monuments and holding memorial day celebrations commemorations as did the south. john has a brilliant phrase for it, the cause victorious.
matt: talk about the handling of the union dead after the war. john: if you were to go to the list of things that happen right away, one of the things is concern about the northern dead. gary: where were they buried, how with a buried throughout the war? john: buried in seven states, tended to be buried ad hoc, just by comrades. sometimes the comrades had to leave too quickly, so burial crews came in behind them. no one likes these burials, they seem fragile, the scene immensely susceptible to loss of identity. so very early after the war, in andersonville, the summer of 65, regularizing the cemetery at andersonville, trying to bring order to that chaos. by 67, congress has passed the national cemetery laws which create 722 national -- 72
national cemeteries. they were created with much the same kind of motive, which is to protect the loyal soldiers beginning of united states from the enemy. from the depredations of the minute -- the enemy in mexico and the south. postwar, this is still a moment where the soldiers themselves are being singled out as being worthy of protection. at the same time that that process is going on in the jr, the -- the gsar is formed. they are pushing for not only making sure the national cemeteries don't turn into government potters fields, but are intended -- instead protected. at the same time they are pushing for pensions. what about the living soldiers and veterans that went and sacrificed arms and legs, and no
longer are employable in some fundamental way. they pushed for pensions eventually they will enlarge the pension demand to include women who served, nurses. much of what we think of in terms of veterans benefits and the obligations that the nation knows to its citizen soldiers, even today, all had their birth is government actions post-civil war. gary: what about public ceremonies in commemorations? joan: we can talk with the most splendid one, the grand review that was held at the end of the war in washington, d.c. my favorite banner in that review that featured one day the western army under sherman, wendy the eastern armies passing in review, the president and grant and others, the great banner was the only debt we could never repay is the one we owe to the veterans.
i think that brings out sacrifice that had to be honored, had to be remembered and commemorated. that is just a small example of the passion that fueled people in the north it in their desire. matt can talk about the commemorations and the growth of memorials. gary: articulate that question more. joan: memorial day. matt: which began as decoration day. john: theg -- the gar will go to local cemeteries and honor their dead. matt: a key component of all of that is they are not just soldiers, their citizen soldiers. the monuments make that clear. these are citizen soldiers, not
just soldiers. john: echoing off the lost cause panel, william lambert who gives a rather stirring memorial address in philadelphia in 1879 has some interesting ideas. he says you have to look at what the nation is after the war. to see what is it that you can't see. there isn't a victorious arch or monuments to union success of the national capitals. it is said of being behind bars, southern leaders are now making the nation's laws. they are not in the nation's presence, they are making the nation's laws. they're not been, he said, this massive executions and concerns for treason committed during the war. on and on, he goes on for a long time in that vein. and then he suddenly stops and says, however, we can never forget that our cause was right and their cause was wrong.
he invokes this image that we see a lot. we see still a lot of the flags battle flag on one flagpole american flag on the other, they are always shown coordinate. he says as if these were warring powers now at peace. and his point is, one of those flags no longer has an issue. -- that no longer has a nation. it is a symbol of something that is no longer around because of the war. the only one of those two flags that has any legitimacy being flown as the american flag. gary: we are almost at a time. i want to bring this down and talk about birth of a nation and "gone with the wind." this morning, do filmgoers or have film goers over the last several decades been able to get a sense of what union meant in the centrality of union during the war from films?
take any films. matt: i don't think so. we talked about spielberg's most recent union -- most recent movie, but the takeaway is about african american soldiers. that's a movie that also is about union. i don't think there is a comparable -- gangs of new york is a movie that is only set there during the civil war very but it really happens in the 1840's. john: you get a very confederate version of the union in gangs of new york because of the wonderful shot in new york where the immigrants are coming off the boat and they are being hustled over and put in uniform and put back on a boat from which they are taking union soldier coffins. it's a very lost cause. matt: those are literally soldiers you don't know what they are fighting for over there going. joan: i think once reconciliation became the
dominant way of interpreting civil war from the earliest 20th century through maybe the 1960's, the union cause was demolished, diminished vanquished. it really is not cinematic as well. lincoln is the only i think constant in portraying the union cause in a number of remarkably horrible movies from the 1930's and 1940's and 1950's. until steven spielberg's lincoln, which is wonderful. that film i think more emphasizes emancipation. matt: is it that the word and term union loses its meaning after the wartime generation? gary: if united states, is not unit anymore. john: the south in the north
have a postwar myth. the north's is the one that came true. you search in of unity, the assertion of the nation, the assertion of a more diverse policy, a commitment to the 14th amendment was just come true in the nascent century. someone argued as an completely come true, but we're working on it. because of that, doesn't fade into the background, it becomes the background. it becomes the context in which everything else is operated. i don't think the union causes disappeared, it has just become ubiquitous. in a way that would make it cinematic, wouldn't make it worthy or interesting to see in the film. joan: it's the norm. matt: i was in the best movie about the civil war is "little women. " it's an articulation of people living in the midst of wartime and sacrificing, and missing their loved ones and all that but keeping on keeping on. and incorporating the war effort into their daily lives. but living a life that is
largely untouched by war. they are not scarlett o'hara. but the best articulation of the north. gary: some of the mn l going to the army, they go to harvard. -- some of the young men don't go to the army, they go to harvard. the civil war was not a war the college men avoided. the memorial hall at harvard in front of the rotunda of a show that. uva incredibly shut down in 1861, there was hardly anyone left here. no more thoughts about popular culture, current popular culture? let's go to the sesquicentennial , i left an entire minute for us to talk about that here. [laughter] joan: this is great. john: i think we in the nerve center of it.
i think virginia and here. matt: i'm from florida, we didn't get the memo. [laughter] joan: california didn't either. vicksburg wasn't even commemorated on the day of the actual surrender, july 4, 1863. for those of you don't know or don't care. matt: black people who lived in vicksburg did commemorate. john:gary: what about california? has there been a big sesquicentennial push? joan: by me. gary: she has her own logo. i have been asked to remind you again that you still have time to put your questions in if you like, blue sheets out in front. those of you who are watching on c-span, you have the two ways i mention this morning, e-mailing
lectures in history with top college professors delving into america's best. and also archival and relevant films from the 1970's. c-span3, created by the cable tv industry and provided by your local satellite provider. like us on facebook or follow us on twitter. >> each week, american history tv sits in on election with one of the nations college professors. you can watch the class every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern. next, a georgetown university professor talks about sex education used across the country in the 1950's, and why such courses had become legally divisive today. -- politically divisive today. she explores how they were used to instill gender norms and racial divides. the class is about one hour and 10 minutes.