Monday, 26 November 2012 10:36
by Brett Zongker, Associated Press
Library of Congress shows diaries from Civil War
WASHINGTON (AP) — Letters and diaries from those who lived through the Civil War offer a new glimpse at the arguments that split the nation 150 years ago and some of the festering debates that survive today.
The Library of Congress, which holds the largest collection of Civil War documents, pulled 200 items from its holdings to reveal both private and public thoughts from dozens of famous and ordinary citizens who lived in the North and the South. Many are being shown for the first time.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, for one, was grappling with divided federal and state allegiances. He believed his greater allegiance was to his native Virginia, as he wrote to a friend about resigning his U.S. Army commission.
“Sympathizing with you in the troubles that are pressing so heavily upon our beloved country & entirely agreeing with you in your notions of allegiance, I have been unable to make up my mind to raise my hand against my native state, my relatives, my children & my home,” he wrote in 1861. “I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army.”
Lee’s handwritten letter is among dozens of writings from individuals who experienced the war. They are featured in the new exhibit “The Civil War in America” at the library in Washington until June 2013. Their voices also are being heard again in a new blog created for the exhibition.
For a limited time in 2013, the extensive display will feature the original draft of President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and rarely shown copies of the Gettysburg Address.
Beyond the generals and famous battles, though, curators set out to tell a broader story about what Lincoln called “a people’s contest.”
“This is a war that trickled down into almost every home,” said Civil War manuscript specialist Michelle Krowl. “Even people who may seem very far removed from the war are going to be impacted on some level. So it’s a very human story.”
Curators laid out a chronological journey from before the first shots were fired to the deep scars soldiers brought home in the end.
While some still debate the root causes of the war, for Benjamin Tucker Tanner in 1860, the cause was clear, as he wrote from South Carolina in his diary.
“The country seems to be bordering on a civil war all on account of slavery,” wrote the future minister. “I pray God to rule and overrule all to his own glory and the good of man.”
A personal letter from Mary Todd Lincoln in 1862 was recently acquired by the library and is being publicly displayed for the first time.
In the handwritten note on stationery with a black border, Mary Lincoln reveals her deep grief over the death of her son Willie months earlier. Krowl said Mary Lincoln’s grief is also evident in the new movie, “Lincoln.”
“When you read this letter ... you just get a palpable feeling of how in the depth that she’s been and she’s now finally coming out of her grief, at least to resume public affairs,” Krowl said.
All the documents in the exhibit are original. They include a massive map Gen. Stonewall Jackson commissioned of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to prepare for a major campaign.
The library also is displaying personal items from Lincoln, including the contents of his pockets on the night he was assassinated, and the pocket diary of Clara Barton who would constantly record details about soldiers she met and later founded the American Red Cross.
Some of the closing words come from soldiers who lost their right arms or hands in battle and had to learn to write left-handed. They joined a left-handed penmanship contest and shared their stories.
“I think this exhibition will have a lot of resonance for people,” said exhibit director Cheryl Regan. “Certainly soldiers returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going to be incredibly moved by these stories.”
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
APR 18 So Gov. Jindal's new press secretary already has blocked blogger CB Forgotston from her Twitter account, CB tells us in this post. Sure, CB hasn't exactly been sugar sweet to the lady, but if his blogs are all it takes for her to get in a huff she better find some intestinal fortitude somewhere, because that's just the tip of the iceberg.
APR 18 Pooyie! Robert Kennedy Jr. isn't pulling any punches in this column on Huffington Post about the flood board's lawsuit against Big Oil and Bobby Jindal's involvement in efforts to kill it. Kennedy, who is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, describes Jindal as 'genuflecting to Big Oil's pressure' and 'the industry's chief indentured servant.' Dang!
APR 18 Here's a video of UL Coach Mark Hudspeth showing he can pump some serious iron. It sure impressed the Dr. Saturday blog, which calls his press of 370 pounds a "ridiculous" number for a coach -- and opines that no other college coach could beat ours.
APR 18 Columnist John Maginnis offers some advice to Vance McAllister on this post: Don't quit. Republicans have demanded he resign, but offer no "sensible answer" to the question of why David Vitter shouldn't leave, too, he says. McAllister needs to do his duty and serve out his (abbreviated) term, Maginnis says.
APR 18 Blogger Lamar White Jr. comments upon the plan to make a Bible Louisiana's "official book" in this post. He argues his point by telling us the story of an immigrant couple who moved to Louisiana: Amar and Raj, whose oldest child is now our Governor. This action would have a much larger impact, he opines.
APR 18 There's only one major bill left defending public education, blogger Mike Deshotels writes in this post. He's also got a few choice words for state Superintendent John White, who implies that Louisiana teachers would be thrown into chaos and disarray if they didn't have a test to teach. (Maybe kids would actually get an education then? Nah!)
APR 18 An effort to set up speed cameras on the Interstate has been shut down before it even got started, columnist Stephanie Grace tells us in this post. A bill to block the practice is sailing through the legislature -- where apparently no one wants visitors to our fair state to arrive home to a ticket. (These guys must never drive on I-10 with people from Texas).
APR 18 Blogger Tom Aswell reassures everyone worried about the staffers for Rodney Alexander -- the ones who didn't go to work for McAllister or Candid Camera, anyway -- with this post. Apparently one staffer for the retired Congressman (who also worked for a preacher accused of sexual assault) already has been hired by Alexander in the state department he now runs, Aswell says.
APR 17 At the start of the Tuesday board meeting that ended with his removal from the President's post, Joe Aguillard told the governing board of Louisiana College that SACS, the accreditation agency, requires the board to adopt a confidentiality agreement regarding board actions. Later that day, SACS told the Town Talk that confidentiality agreements would never be required. Calvinist or not, isn't lying wrong?
APR 17 Here we are, looking like backwater dummies again in the national media. This story on Huffington Post tells the nation that our legislators are so scared of the Louisiana Family Forum that they won't vote to repeal a law that was ruled illegal years ago. (Guess these particular Christians don't cotton to that "love one another" thing.)
APR 17 Here's an interesting column from Paul Stanley, political opinion editor of the Christian Post. He breaks down the differences between David Vitter and Vance McAllister, in terms of political realities. What he found surprising was the fact that many GOP leaders are swinging a self-righteous sword at McAllister which had remained sheathed when Vitter's "sin" was revealed. He does have an interesting theory -- that Jindal's people want the Vitter issue to be revived.
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly