The book as a whole demonstrates several ways to probe the history of memory, to understand how and why groups of Americans have constructed versions of the past in the service of contemporary social needs. Topics range from the writing and thought of Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to a comparison of Abraham Lincoln and Douglass on the level of language and memory. The volume also includes a compelling study of the values of a single Union soldier, an analysis of Ken Burns's PBS series The Civil War, and a retrospective treatment of the distinguished African American historian Nathan I. Huggins.
Taken together, these lucidly written pieces offer a thoroughgoing assessment of the stakes of Civil War memory and their consequences for American race relations. Beyond the Battlefield demonstrates not only why we should preserve and study our Civil War battlefields, but also why we should lift our vision above those landscapes and ponder all the unfinished questions of healing and justice, of racial harmony and disharmony, that still bedevil our society and our historical imagination.
Some essays in this collection disrupt the traditional story and time-frame of emancipation. Others offer trenchant renderings of emancipation, with new interpretations of the language and politics of democracy. Still others sidestep academic conventions to speak personally about the politics of emancipation historiography, reconsidering how historians have used source material for understanding subjects such as violence and the suffering of refugee women and children. Together the essays show that the question of freedom—its contested meanings, its social relations, and its beneficiaries—remains central to understanding the complex historical process known as emancipation.
Contributors: Justin Behrend, Gregory P. Downs, Jim Downs, Carole Emberton, Eric Foner, Thavolia Glymph, Chandra Manning, Kate Masur, Richard Newman, James Oakes, Susan O’Donovan, Hannah Rosen, Brenda E. Stevenson.
The Columbian Orator presents 84 selections, most of which are notable examples of oratory on such subjects as nationalism, religious faith, individual liberty, freedom, and slavery, including pieces by Washington, Franklin, Milton, Socrates, and Cicero, as well as heroic poetry and dramatic dialogues. Augmenting these is an essay on effective public speaking which influenced Abraham Lincoln as a young politician. As America experiences a resurgence of interest in the art of debating and oratory, The Columbian Orator--whether as historical artifact or contemporary guidebook--is one of those rare books to be valued for what it meant in its own time, and for how its ideas have endured. Above all, this book is a remarkable compilation of Enlightenment era thought and language that has stood the test of time.