A few items relating to the Civil War and the ways we remember it caught my attention lately.
First up, when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia, he’ll be speaking behind the same podium Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address. Right now it’s at the city’s Union League for safekeeping.
By the way, the Union League is worth a visit if you’re ever in Philly. As Dimitri Rotov noted recently, it’s got a fine collection of Civil War art and memorabilia. I got to spend some time there a few years ago on a business trip (one of the perks of working for a Civil War museum is traveling to neat places for work), and it’s a fantastic building to wander around in if you’re a history buff.
Second item: an opera based on Cold Mountain just premiered in Santa Fe. Seems like a suitably operatic subject, but I doubt they’ve found a way to pull off the Battle of the Crater inside an auditorium.
Third, it looks like Jefferson Davis will be staying in the Kentucky Capitol for the foreseeable future. The state’s Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted to keep the Davis statue while adding some “educational context.” As I’ve said before, I think leaving historic monuments intact while providing some interpretation to put them in their context is the best course of action in these situations.
One thing that really surprised me about the Davis issue was the reaction among black Kentuckians. In one poll, they were pretty evenly split between support for keeping the statue (42%) and support for removing it (43%). The percentage of black Kentuckians in favor of keeping the statue was much lower than that for whites (75%), but still a lot higher than I would’ve expected.
Reflecting Kentucky’s Civil War divisions, the Davis statue shares the Capitol with a likeness of the state’s other wartime president, Abraham Lincoln.