A Student of History

January 15, 2008

Marketing the South

Filed under: The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:00 am
“The historical, competitive, and ideological factors that structure the practices of commercial mythmaking remain largely unexplored and undertheorized. Now, a study from the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research investigates these interrelationships by performing a comparative analysis of two prominent New South mythmakers – editors of nationally distributed magazines about the South – who are seeking to ideologically reconstruct the historical legacy of antebellum, confederate, and segregationist South in ways that serve their commercial agendas.”
More here….

December 26, 2007

Nathanael Greene Essays

Filed under: Early America,New books,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 2:48 pm


In 2006, I was involved with the planning and conducting of a symposium in Camden, SC on the subject of Nathanael Greene, which was well attended and featured speakers including Dennis Conrad and Larry Babits.  Two of the speakers, Jim Piecuch and Greg Massey, took the lead in collecting most of the papers and soliciting a few more (including on from me) from those who did not present at the symposium, in order to produce a book of collected essays on Nathanael Greene in the Southern Department.  Jim & Greg signed contract on it last week with a university press, and plan to have all the essays in by late February, then edit them, and have the contributors make any needed changes.  Prof.  Charles Royster of LSU will write the introduction.  Hopefully the manuscript will ready for submission by late fall. Then it will go to peer review. Everything after that depends on how long the reviewers take and what changes they recommend.  No title has been selected for the book, but hopefully we can give it a catchy name from a Greene quote.  It should have 7-8 essays, as well as the introduction.

December 4, 2007

This Birthday Party is “Killer!”

Filed under: The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 3:45 pm

Now, you can experience all of the horrors of war…at your child’s birthday party!  That’s right, have your 8-12 year old celebrate their joyous, fun-filled birthday among the killing and slaughter of the American Civil War.  Just $10 per person at Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, Va., site of months of horrific destruction and death in 1864 and 1865.  All you need to do is bring the cake–the park supplies the rest, including a harmonica for each party-goer.  Isn’t that awesome!?!?  What better way to recognize and revere “these honored dead” than to have a hollering bunch of pre-teens eat cake, run around, and play their new harmonicas at the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier?  As the Park says, the exciting experience “lasts two hours,” so come one and come all.

More fun details here.

November 23, 2007

History of Augusta

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 4:46 pm

New Website Showcases History of Augusta, Ga.

City Selected for Ongoing NPS “Discover Our Shared Heritage” Itinerary Series

(Washington, D.C.) – The rich history of Augusta, Georgia can now be explored on-line at the new National Park Service website http:www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/augusta.

The on-line travel itinerary highlights 39 sites in Augusta listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The website provides descriptions, maps, photographs, visitor information, and links for each place. There are also essays which chronicle the city’s history, historic preservation, African American community, and religious institutions.

The National Park Service’s Heritage Education Services, Historic Augusta, Inc., and the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area produced the itinerary in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. A tourism grant from the City of Augusta and the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau provided part of the funding to produce the itinerary.

Augusta is the 45th itinerary featured in the ongoing Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series. The series was developed by the National Park Service to promote public awareness of history and encourage visits to historic places.

November 21, 2007

A Defeat of Historical Proportions

Filed under: The strange place called the South,What is History? — John Maass @ 5:12 pm

At a recent news conference, a defeated commander described his side’s loss by trying to place it within the outline of history.

“Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event,” he said. “It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.”

What was this debacle the leader refered to?  

The University of Alabama’s loss to the University of Louisiana-Monroe on the football field last weekend.   To be accurate, Alabama Coach Nick Saban didn’t compare the embarrassing 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe to those events, but picked those historical references to illustrate that this could be a pivotal week for the Crimson Tide.  Nevertheless, it goes to show us that a little knowledge is dangerous, and that some folks have lost all perspective.

Mind you, Saban is the highest paid coach in NCAA football, and his team has lost 4 games.

November 14, 2007

The Spanish in Georgia

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:51 am

Update on an earlier post regarding the Spanish in Georgia during the colonial period:

What a high school girl found in 6 inches of South Georgia dirt last year may help rewrite the history of Europeans’ earliest forays into the great, green New World that greeted them half a millennium ago.

The discovery is a glass bead no larger than a pencil eraser. It and four other beads, plus two ancient slivers of iron, may prompt historians to reconsider the presence of Spaniards in Georgia five centuries ago.

Archaeologist Dennis Blanton of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History considers the finds, which he could easily slip in his pocket, “world history in the making.”

Click here for the rest of this story.

November 9, 2007

Last Rebel Widow “Found”?

Filed under: The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:03 am

From Arkansas, we get the following report:

Some might think it is impossible a Confederate widow is still alive. However, it was recently discovered that a Confederate widow was residing in an assisted living facility in West Helena. Maude Hopkins of Lexa, is very much alive. Mrs. Hopkins married her first husband, Confederate William M. Cantrell, an aging widower, in 1934.

She was 19 and he was 86. Living alone and in his 80’s, he employed Maude to cook and care for him. Being mindful of the moral standards of the time, they agreed to marry so as to not bring disrespect upon her name. Confederate Cantrell was in French’s Battalion, Company A, of the Virginia Infantry. Maude cared for Cantrell until his death on Feb. 26, 1937, at 90 years of age. Following his death, she remarried and had two daughters.

Recently members from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis Chapter #2191, New Orleans, La., visited her.

Members Lea Martin of Mandeville, La, Lynn Dowdy of Jonesboro and prospective member Dayl Taylor of Trumann spent time with Mrs. Hopkins and her granddaughter, Donna.

Mrs. Hopkins was presented with a fall arrangement for her room. During the visit, they learned about her marriage to Cantrell and what life was like when she married him. Mrs. Hopkins was made a member of the David 0. Dodd Chapter #212, Pine Bluff in August of 2004.

October 25, 2007

Reading the Man

Filed under: Early America,New books,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 11:18 am

The LyceumOn Wed. night I attended a presentation made at the Alexandria Historical Society at the Lyceum, by Elizabeth Pryor.  She is the author of Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters.  It was excellent, as Ms. Pryor is a superb presenter (if not sufficiently loud!) and has done a remarkable job with the “truck letters” recently found at Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria.  Among the more interesting points she made:

  • Lee was pro-slavery (this flies in the face of some well-know Lee quotes)
  • Lee was bitter after the war
  • He regretted his decision to enter a military career
  • Lee may actually have been born in 1806, not 1807
  • Lee’s religious beliefs were complicated and evolving

Here’s some info from the publisher:

Robert E. Lee’s war correspondence is well known, and here and there personal letters have found their way into print, but the great majority of his most intimate messages have never been made public. These letters reveal a far more complex and contradictory man than the one who comes most readily to the imagination, for it is with his family and his friends that Lee is at his most candid, most engaging, and most vulnerable. Over the past several years historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor has uncovered a rich trove of unpublished Lee materials that had been held in both private and public collections. Her new book, a unique blend of analysis, narrative, and historiography, presents dozens of these letters in their entirety, most by Lee but a few by family members. Each letter becomes a departure point for an essay that shows what the letter uniquely reveals about Lee’s time or character. The material covers all aspects of Lee’s life—his early years, West Point, his work as an engineer, his relationships with his children and his slaves, his decision to join the South, his thoughts on military strategy, and his disappointments after defeat in the Civil War. The result is perhaps the most intimate picture to date of Lee, one that deftly analyzes the meaning of his actions within the context of his personality, his relationships, and the social tenor of his times.

Robert E. Lee Photograph

October 11, 2007

Only in Arkansas!

Filed under: The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 6:18 am

Also from Fox News:

An error in a new law that allows Arkansans of any age — even toddlers — to marry with parental consent must be fixed by lawmakers, not an independent commission authorized to correct typos, a judge ruled Wednesday.  The law, which took effect July 31, was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry while also allowing pregnant minors to marry with parental consent. An extraneous “not” in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age with if the parents allow it.

Maybe they could have the wedding receptions at Chuckee Cheese?

October 4, 2007

Most likely to secede

Looks like a new secession crisis brewing, but this time on both sides of the M-D line.  From Fox News:

Tired of foreign wars and what they consider right-wing courts, the Middlebury Institute wants liberal states like Vermont to be able to secede peacefully.

That sounds just fine to the League of the South, a conservative group that refuses to give up on Southern independence.

“We believe that an independent South, or Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont would be better able to serve the interest of everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Michael Hill of Killen, Ala., president of the League of the South.

Separated by hundreds of miles and divergent political philosophies, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention starting Wednesday in Chattanooga.

You know the Vermonters are crazy and self-delusional when they consider the courts to be “right wing.” 

I love this quote from the article’s author, presented as background fact:

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession, but few people think it is politically viable.

The Constitution doesn’t allow it either!  In fact, wasn’t there a war over this issue in the 1860s?

September 24, 2007

Is the South “dead”?

Filed under: The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:02 am

Well, if you read this opinion piece, you’ll find out about one perspective that thinks so.  Gerald Baker of thetimesonline states that the Democrats and the Republicans have abandoned the South and the values most southerners stand for, and in a sense he states that politically, the region has become less important, if not down right irrelevant.  He writes:

Dixie is in eclipse. With the Democratic victory in the mid-terms last year the leadership in Congress has passed into the hands of Westerners from California and Nevada with an agenda – antiwar, liberal on abortion and gay rights – wholly at odds with the South.

Even more striking, the Democrats look likely to nominate as their presidential candidate someone from outside the South – Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama – and, at least on current form, she or he is the firm favourite to win next year.

September 5, 2007

Job at Swamp Fox U.

Filed under: Employment,The Academy,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 8:02 pm

This job opportunity may interest some readers here, as it is Rev. War related and in the South.  A little warning though: they posted the exact same job last year, let the search go on forever with little or no info on the status given to applicants, then cancelled the search.  Bad form, as they say.

U.S. South/Public
Francis Marion
Florence, SC

Position #08-01. Francis Marion University, a state-supported institution in northeastern South Carolina, invites applications for a tenure-track assistant/associate professorship in U.S. South/public history to begin in fall 2008. The successful candidate will teach one-half time in the history department and will work one-half time with the Francis Marion Trail Commission, established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2005, to research and document historic sites related to the career of General Francis Marion. Applicants should have a specialization in American South and preparation/experience in public history. The successful candidate will teach upper-division courses in American South and both halves of the U.S. history survey. Preferred subfields are African American history and South Carolina history. The teaching load is two courses each semester. PhD in history required. The history department expects excellence in teaching and a strong commitment to scholarship. Rank and salary are dependent upon qualifications. Screening of applicants begins immediately and will continue until position is filled. Send letter of interest (referencing position # 08-01), c.v., FMU Faculty Application, copies of transcripts, and three letters of reference to Dr. Larry E. Nelson, Chair, Search Committee, in care of Dr. Charlene Wages, Vice President for Administration, Francis Marion University, P.O. Box 100547, Florence, SC 29501-0547. Please visit the web site at http://www.fmarion.edu/about/hr. Faculty applications can be obtained from this site. Also, visit http://www.fmarion.edu/about/hrlinks to obtain information about the State of South Carolina, and other support services for state employees. An AA/EOE.

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