Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lincoln lotto spot

An Illinois lottery commercial, in which a ginormous orange Powerball rolls through the Land of Lincoln and past a statue of the Great Emancipator himself, has Professor Owen Youngman pretty upset.  “The state of Illinois’ using images of Abraham Lincoln in TV ads to sell lottery tickets,” he writes, “is (to borrow a phrase from a recent presidential debate) as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”

Here’s the ad:

Personally, I don’t get the outrage, unless one objects to the very notion of a lottery.  There are indeed a good many arguments against lotteries which are worth considering, but in the ad Lincoln’s face is just one among many features of the Illinois landscape.  They don’t go so far as to specifically invoke Lincoln, unless the crack about “dreaming bigger” refers to the famously ambitious and upwardly mobile Abe, who was a firm believer in America as a haven for aspiring self-made men.

This strikes me as much ado about nothing.  Now, that upscale Lincoln eatery in D.C., on the other hand…

Hat tip: Abraham Lincoln Observer

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, History and Memory

A new collection on Rev War cavalry

…is coming out this fall.  Cool!

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Filed under American Revolution, Historiography

A group of reenactors wanted to do some good

…and rather than put up a flagpole, commission a statue, or get politicians to issue a resolution, they did something that actually needed doing.

RALEIGH — A coat worn by a North Carolina officer who was badly wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg has been stowed away at the N.C. Museum of History since 1914.

This week, a group of Civil War re-enactors will donate $10,000 to the museum so Collett Leventhorpe’s coat can be preserved and put on display for the first time.

The 1st North Carolina Volunteers of the 11th Regiment has already donated more than $18,000 toward preserving artifacts from the war to be featured at the museum. Among them was the battle flag Leventhorpe carried at Gettysburg, now on display at the museum.

After the flag, the 1st/11th re-enactors group, which has about 90 members from eastern and central North Carolina and Virginia, wanted to donate money for another project.

That rare conjunction of traits—not only the desire to do something and the gumption to see it through, but the wisdom to undertake something worthwhile.  Too bad there aren’t more folks like that.

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Filed under Civil War, Museums and Historic Sites

Imprisoned Patriots

Carl Borick has a new book out, examining the plight of Revolutionary War prisoners in the South.  This one ought to be worth a read.  Borick previously published a book on the 1780 siege of Charleston, which I recommend, and organized a fantastic temporary exhibit on the occupation of that city at the Charleston Museum.

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Reconsidering Andrew Johnson

Dr. Paul Bergeron probably knows more about Andrew Johnson than anyone else does, so his newest book ought to be well worth a read.  Check out this article on Bergeron’s work in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Filed under Civil War, Historiography, Tennessee History

The Farragut Folklife Museum is back in business

…with updated exhibits.  If you’re interested in learning more about the community that Admiral David G. Farragut called home—site of the infamous disappearing monument—then stop by and pay the museum a visit.  Admission is free.

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Filed under Museums and Historic Sites, Tennessee History

“End Black History Month,” says black filmmaker

WaPo has a piece up about the debate within the African-American community over whether to continue observing Black History Month.

One person who wants to scrap the observance altogether is Shukree Hassan Tilghman, who has created a documentary about his campaign to do away with it.  The St. Louis Beacon talked to him about the project:

“I really loved it as a kid. I loved the sense of empowerment and learning about all these people who were superheroes like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But as I got older, I felt like I was just learning about the same thing and I got kind of tired of it,” said Tilghman. “Then I heard Morgan Freeman criticizing Black History Month, and it was a pivotal movement for me because someone else said what I was thinking in public.”

I can understand where Tilghman is coming from.  Black History Month has become something like the Athenians’ altar to An Unknown God.  In fact, in some ways, the very ubiquity of “Black History Month” celebrations has eroded any real contribution the month might have made.  Like Christmas, it’s becoming divorced from its original meaning, and is transforming into something you just do because that’s what we’ve always done.  The intention was to get people thinking about black history, but now it’s something we do without thinking.

Maybe instead of a Black History Month, we need some sort of “Black History is American History” Month, where the focus would be on the integral role the African-American presence has played in every stage of American history.

You can learn more about the documentary at the official website.  It airs on PBS this month, so check your listings.  Looks interesting.

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Filed under History and Memory